My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart.Proverbs 4:20-21 [niv]
The idea of listening to God’s voice can really intimidate many of us, generally because we’re anxious about what will happen if we perceive we have not heard anything. My encouragement to you would be that God seeks an intimate and personal relationship with each and every one of us. It says in Exodus 34:14 “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” God, the king of the universe, longs to be what your heart is wholly captivated by. He desires to speak with you and be known by you. There is a song called ‘How He Loves’ by the David Crowder Band which I would recommend listening to, if you want to understand more about what it means for God to be a jealous God. So, let our anxieties not turn us away from fellowship with our Father but turn us toward Him, allowing our faith to flourish.
Personally, I have never heard the audible voice of God, yet I have received words, pictures and visions. When I was eight years old I was attending a concert by the Watoto Children’s Choir, which as a church and family we were involved in hosting for numerous years. The concert was the second or third that I had been to that week, so I had seen it before. But I wanted to go anyway to see my friends and to support the girls in the choir who were staying at our house. It was during this concert that I had a vision. It was of me as an adult surrounded by young children of 0-4 years of age at an orphanage and they were all around me laughing and smiling. I had been given the privilege of being able to show them that they were cherished and loved by their Father in heaven.
Now, you may be asking, how on earth has this girl never mentioned that she runs an orphanage? As much as I wish that was in fact reality it is not, when we hear from God we must keep in mind the bigger picture of the entirety of our lives. I would be lying if I knew what that vision means for my life, but I would be foolish to ignore it because it doesn’t fit with what I imagine my life to look like. I have never been surer that God has spoken to me than that night as an eight-year-old girl who didn’t even know what a vision was. I remember on the way home in the car my dad gave me a great piece of advice which is to always write down anything you hear from God, for the very reason that for most of us we won’t hear a booming voice from heaven describing exactly what we need to do and when. Unfortunately. Yet hearing God’s voice for many of us will be through walking faithfully with Christ, and as we do, we will see His goodness and provision by seeking that our lives be an act of worship and surrender.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 [NIV]
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honour God with your bodies.”
We are not our own, yet our lives are in the hands of the omnipotent God who is benevolent towards us. A friend recently put it so well;
I have often found answered prayer has come with a longer narrative and has been, instead of a divine revelation in a single moment, an unravelling of an answer over a period of timeKaitlyn Bickersteth
My prayer is that we can take reassurance from this. Some of us may have this crazy moment of hearing the audible voice of God speak into an exact situation right then and there. But be encouraged that for many of us it is through continued prayer and petition that the voice of God is sought and heard.
We are all capable of listening to what God has to say to us no matter where we are in our journey of faith. I would love to list out a three-step process that is successful every time, but it just doesn’t work like that. We were all created uniquely, and God too communicates with us each differently. God can talk to us in many different ways, a few examples are, through an audible voice, words, other people, and pictures. Below are listed some practical methods you could try which may help you begin being more attentive to the voice of God. Do however keep in mind that this list is far from exhaustive and there are many other approaches to listening to God. I do believe there are times when God speaks to us when we are least expecting it, but I also believe He desires to speaks to us when we actively create the space for Him to do so. As any relationship is a two-way street so is yours with God.
Reading the Bible is an amazing way to hear what God has to say to you because it is the word of God. Don’t discredit what God will speak to you through the Bible because you may think it is old or outdate. It is far from outdated and still applicable to our lives now. “My son, if you accept my word and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:1-5 [NIV]
Find a quiet place, close your eyes and visualise where you feel most at peace. Then just allow your mind and body to relax. Imagine God is with you and be still in His presence and listen to hear what He has to say to you. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35 [NIV]
Many people find that they connect best with God when worshiping through music. Music allows you to focus on one thing, and if you are easily distracted it’s probably best you don’t try sitting in complete silence to begin with. “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16 [NIV]
I hope you have been encouraged today and find that these practical methods of listening to God help you.