Earley appears to advocate “fleece” praying, stating “Before you get hung up on the legitimacy of putting out a fleece…” Take a position on “fleece” praying; is it correct in the Church Age? Should it be taught to congregations? Is it a lack of faith if “fleece” praying is employed? Support your answer well; include additional source information as necessary. Use parenthetical reference to cite your sources.
Since first hearing about the famous story of Gideon in Sunday School, many believers have likely considered putting out a fleece to determine the will of God. In a reference to Judges 6:36-38, Dave Earley (2008, 118) appears to support fleece praying by explaining that before Gideon moved to rescue Israel from the Midianites, he prayed for confirmation, and God answered. However, the question remains as to whether fleece praying is appropriate for modern Christians. First, the literary context surrounding the story of Gideon’s fleece suggests that God had already revealed His will to Gideon when He stated, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian” (Judg 6:14 [NASB]). Accordingly, K. Lawson Younger (2002, 187) explains that “contrary to popular interpretation, these fleecings have nothing to do with discovering or determining God’s will. The divine will is perfectly and absolutely clear in Gideon’s own mind (note the wording in v. 36).” Furthermore, God provided plenty of evidence regarding His will through the appearance of an angel, a miraculous fire, divine speech, and protection for Gideon and his men after destroying the altar of Baal (Judg 6:11-27). However, none of these occurrences satisfied Gideon, who found it necessary to request two additional tests of God. Daniel Block (1999, 272-273) recognizes that Gideon’s additional requests were “not a sign of faith but of unbelief,” and that Gideon used “every means available to try to get out of the mission to which he had been called.” The context of Judges 6 suggests that Gideon used fleece praying because of his lack of faith. Therefore, encouraging congregations in the Church Age to follow the example of Gideon’s fleece praying, when God’s will is already evident, would be ill-advised.
Earley (2008, 118) also compares Judges 6 to Jesus’s teaching in Luke 11 by suggesting that Gideon’s prayer requesting “one wet fleece” was “exactly as Jesus would later instruct,” when Jesus advised His hearers to pray for “three loaves.” Earley is correct that both prayers assert numerical specificity, but that is where the similarity ends. Gideon’s prayer was built on questionable motives and a lack of faith. Alternatively, Norval Geldenhuys (1952, 324) explains that in Luke’s story of the friend at midnight, Jesus encourages praying with good motives and a strong faith. The distinction is palpable.
At this point, the question remains as to whether fleece praying would be appropriate if built on pure motives and a strong faith. Nothing in Jesus’s teaching in Luke 11 seems to preclude a believer, who has good motives and a strong faith, from praying for guidance from God for a specific situation, and then asking God to reveal a sign in response to that prayer. Accordingly, fleece praying within the context of the story of Gideon should be avoided, but fleece praying within the context of Jesus’s teaching about the friend at midnight may be appropriate in certain circumstances in the Church Age. However, the utmost caution must be taken as a fine line appears to exist between appropriately seeking God’s will and inappropriately testing God (Luke 11:9-10, 4:12).
Block, Daniel Isaac. 1999. The New American Commentary. Vol. 6, Judges, Ruth. Nashville: Broadman & Holman.
Earley, David. 2008. Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders. Chattanooga: Living Ink.
Geldenhuys, Norval. 1952. Commentary on the Gospel of Luke: The English Text with Introduction, Exposition, and Notes. The New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans.
Younger, K. Lawson. 2002. Judges and Ruth. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.