Listening to God
Last month I did a daily reflection on Listening to People. Today I am thinking about Listening to God.
It is often when we are worried, anxious or overwhelmed that we cry out to God to speak to us. We look for his voice for guidance when we need something. The good news is that God always wants to hear from us and speak to us.
God is constantly speaking to people. Unfortunately they often miss out on hearing God’s messages because they seek his guidance only occasionally – usually when they are going through a crisis or facing a major decision. Then, with a dire need to hear from God, people become confused and frustrated when they don’t clearly hear what they should do. They start to wonder how to hear from God and why it isn’t happening. It doesn’t have to be that way. God wants everyone to hear his messages clearly. The key is to forget about formulas and gimmicks for hearing from God, and to focus instead on developing the kind of relationship with God that will enable you to hear God speaking regularly. The closer you get to God, the more you can enjoy ongoing conversations with him, and the more God will use those conversations to transform you into the person he wants you to become.
Here are some thoughts on how you can listen to God and recognize his voice:
1. Recognize that God has created you for a close friendship with himself.
The way you hear best from God is in the context of a friendship with him. God intends you to figure out his will freely and intelligently as you engage in regular conversations with him. God’s will is to be personally present with you and speaking with you moment by moment as you go through life. Then you’ll grow to understand him more and become more like his Son Jesus.
2. Consider your motives for wanting to hear from God.
Honestly reflect on why you want to hear from God. Is it because you are open to whatever God has to say and committed to putting his guidance into action, even when to do so is challenging? Or is it for a selfish reason, such as wanting to feel righteous or comforted? Confess and repent of any wrong motives. Ask God to give you an openness to hear and respond faithfully to what he wants to tell you.
3. Recognize that God communicates in many forms, but most often through your mind.
God may choose one of many different ways to communicate with you, according to what’s best at particular times and in particular circumstances. People may sometimes hear God’s message in dramatic ways as in the Bible, such as through angels, visions, or miraculous events. However more often you will hear God speaking through your thoughts, and he will use ordinary practices such as reading the Bible, praying quietly, learning from circumstances, or seeking advice from other Christians to reach out to you.
4. Invite Jesus to help you as you read the Bible.
The Word of God is a living, creative force – Jesus Himself – and he is actively at work when you read God’s written word – the Bible – prayerfully. When you read the Bible, ask Jesus to make the Bible’s words come alive for you and pray that you will hear the voice of God speaking to you.
5. Recognize God’s voice above all others.
By experience, you will learn to recognize God’s voice when he speaks, and to confidently respond to what he says. When thoughts occur, pray to discern if they are coming from God. Keep in mind that God will never send you a message that contradicts the teaching of Jesus. The best way to discern God’s voice from your own is to practice stepping out and acting on his voice when you think it’s him. As you take those steps of faith, he helps you sort out and recognize his voice through a process of learning.
I hope these thoughts will help you in your times of prayer and reading the Bible.