Are we really listening?
Real listening is like an art form, it is not something that comes easy to many of us. When we encounter someone who truly listens to us, we notice, I am sure we all know those people who just seem to always listen naturally to hear, rather than just respond.
There is a saying that goes, we have one mouth and two ears, this is because we must listen more than we speak! Now if we find listening difficult with actual people who are physically standing in front of us, it is hardly surprising that we can find listening and hearing God difficult too!
I wonder how many times you have heard God clearly?
God speaks to us in many different ways, we see examples of these in the Bible. We have Moses and the burning bush, Abraham saw the Lord physically, we read about Angels appearing to Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds. The wise men saw a star, Daniel had visions and Solomon and Joseph had dreams. We also have the booming voice from the sky as Jesus was baptised. The way God communicates is indefinable, and varies from person to person but what is clear is that He does communicate, we just need to learn to listen.
I recently attended an online retreat day; this was something completely new to me. One of the sessions was devoted to listening to God. I joined in, not really knowing what to expect, but knowing that when I hear God, I can sometimes miss it, or convince myself it was not Him. Something that was said really struck me, discerning His voice takes practise and we need to want to hear Him.
I would like you to get yourself comfortable, maybe close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Clear your mind and imagine yourself in a safe place that makes you happy, maybe a garden, or somewhere else. You look up and see Jesus walking towards you. Notice, His face, His features, What is He doing? Greet Him and invite Him to sit next to you, the ask what is on His heart, what does He want you to hear today?
This was one of the exercises we did on the retreat (our cameras switched off) as weird and awkward as it felt, many of us did experience the presence of Jesus in that moment. This may be something that you would like to use again, to help you on your journey to listening to Him, or this may feel far to strange so perhaps there is another way that would suit you better.
One thing I know, is that listening to God is not something that comes to all of us naturally, it takes work, He is always there, we just need to find a way to tune ourselves (like a radio) to hear Him clearly.
I came across this article on All About God.Com that I found really helpful, I hope you find it helpful too.
Listening to God – Preparing Your Heart to Hear Him
Listening to God is like listening to anyone-before you can hear Him, you must be ready to listen. Just as in a conversation, you cannot hear the other person if you are talking or if your mind is distracted. So it is with God. If you want to hear Him speak, you must be quiet and you must be focused on what He is saying. Regular conversation with God can transform your life! Consider identifying a place and time to meet with God everyday.
Prayer is how you begin a conversation with God. Think of it as saying “hello.”
Listening to God – How Can I Hear Him?
Listening to God requires a deliberate choice to shut out the chaos around you and focus your thoughts. Is God someone you can hear? The Bible says He is, and the Bible is one of the main tools through which He speaks.
We live in a world of noise. Almost everywhere we go, we find sounds competing with our minds, keeping us from letting our thoughts get below the surface level. Hearing God’s voice means not listening to the noise of the world around us. It’s not easy, but it can be done.
King David, author of most of the book of Psalms, gave us a model for meeting with God, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul” (Psalm 143:8).
He sought God’s direction in the morning, at the beginning of the day. Like a general in God’s army, he wanted to hear from his Commanding Officer before he entered into battle. Beginning each day fresh with God is a great reminder that, as the Scripture says, His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22, 23). You must find the time of day that works for you, but morning is the best time if that is possible.
Do you want to hear God speak to you? Listening to God requires regular Bible reading, since the Bible is the Word of God. To listen to the Bible, click here.
Listening to God – Get the Picture
Listening to God requires a heart committed to understand His message. God often speaks to us in visual images. Consider the example of the prophet Habakkuk, in Habakkuk chapter 2. The prophet longed to hear from God! He was so determined that he was willing to stand and wait as long as it took. “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me…” (Habakkuk 2:1).
Habakkuk found that God was faithful. “Then the LORD replied, ‘Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:2).
Listening to God – What Now?
Listening to God requires a right attitude in our hearts. In order to listen to God and receive His instruction, we must want to do His will, much as Habakkuk did. God honors the heart that is fully surrendered to Him. If we are stubbornly clinging to our own desires, we are likely to get a garbled message that will not be God’s voice at all. As a result, we are likely to continue pursuing a path that is contrary to the one God has designed for our lives.
Psalm 40:8 says, “I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”
Do you desire God’s will for your life above every other desire? If you do, you can trust that He will direct your path. Listen to His message, and be quick to obey. Write down what He tells you and be ready to share it so that others may understand.
When you listen to God and obey Him, you will discover a life that is full and rich with purpose, confident you are following the Master’s plan.
Help us to learn to listen,
Tune us in to your voice,
give us the discernment, strength and courage to respond
All for your Glory
In Jesus name