Archive for April, 2012

God, Can I Hear You?

Posted: April 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

Spiritual Discipline: Listening to God

“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9).

Do we really hear from God anymore? Does God speak to us as He did to Moses? Or to Paul? Or to Mary? Or to Peter? Or to John? Perhaps the question we need to ask is: are we listening to God as they did? Is our relationship with God just as intimate as theirs? Is it so wholeheartedly devoted to Him that when we hear His voice, we immediately know that it is God who is speaking? Does God’s guidance or answer to prayers sometimes get dismissed as coincidence? Do we sometimes claim to not hear from God because what He is saying goes against the way we want things? Perhaps we justify this by saying, “this can’t be from God because I don’t have peace.” Sometimes peace won’t come until we obey Him. Hearing from God requires listening to God; listening to God requires desire, discipline, and devotion to doing life His way, in relationship with Him.

So often doing God’s will and obeying His word will not necessarily feel like the right thing to do. That’s why it’s so important to be in such an intimate relationship with Him that we know His voice, we know His word, we know His nature and can thereby make godly decisions and live holy lives. This sort of guidance typically does not happen unless we are a fully engaged disciple of Jesus Christ—committed to being like Him, to being His lifelong apprentice.

Imagine if your spouse, or someone important to you, only talked to you when they wanted something—and only for a few minutes a day. What sort of a relationship would that be? Or, how does it make you feel if you are trying to tell someone something important, and he/she turns away to do something else or talk to someone else—never to return to what you were saying? I believe we all have a desire to be heard, to be listened to. Why would God be any different? But so often we treat the conversation as if it is one-sided—we tell God what we’d like Him to do for us, and then it’s off to our day or off to bed. Ever think God may have something to say in response?

Desire for God, not for what He will do for me, is the first step in hearing from Him. So many people just pour out requests to God. Few just pour into God because they love Him regardless of what He can or will do for them. Dallas Willard says, “Few people arise in the morning as hungry for God as they are for cornflakes or toast and eggs.” Sadly, we are more faithful to our own desires than we are to God. But, when our greatest desire is just to be in a relationship with Him, He shines His radiant light into every situation we encounter, and we naturally respond according to His will. When we delight in Him alone, extraordinary things happen.

Discipline, namely practicing the spiritual disciplines, is another necessary component to hearing from God. Being disciplined in the Word is not about reading the Bible every day. Being disciplined in the Word means experiencing the Bible, meditating on certain passages, opening up the heart and mind to what the Holy Spirit is revealing. When questions arise from what we have read, meditate on them, allow the Holy Spirit to answer them and most often He brings even deeper revelations. Being disciplined in our spiritual walk tells God how much we love Him, how much we appreciate and want to spend time with Him, and that we desire our walk with Him to be the most important relationship in our lives. Study the disciplines, practice them, ask God to reveal which ones He wants you to work on and engage in. You’ll be amazed at how God transforms and speaks to the disciplined disciple.

Devotion to living holy lives worthy of the gospel, to seeking communication with God, and to a willingness to wait and listen for Him is significant to hearing from God. Also, devotion to God over devotion to self must take precedence. Oftentimes, devotion to God means forsaking our own ways, or it may mean giving something up that we simply don’t want to give up, or handling a situation differently. When pride or self-will has a stronger influence over our lives than heeding God’s will, we may not want to hear from Him. Willard says, “Perhaps we do not hear the voice [of God] because we do not expect to hear it. Then again, perhaps we do not expect it because we know that we fully intend to run our lives on our own and have never seriously considered anything else. The voice of God would therefore be an unwelcome intrusion into our plans.” Being devoted to God means we have been “crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). If Christ truly lives inside of us, we no longer desire to submit to our own ways, only to Christ’s.

God can and does speak to us today the same as He did in biblical times. The question is, are you listening? Do you want to know what He says? Do you want to have an intimate, conversational relationship with your Savior? Keep in mind, He died so you could. To get a better understanding of listening to God, I highly recommend reading Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God by Dallas Willard.

Challenge: Go one day without asking God for anything except that He speak to you. Start the day uttering the verse, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Throughout your day, thank God. Praise Him. Meditate on a couple verses of Scripture. Listen to God in His word, in nature, in songs, etc. Declare that nothing is off –limits for God to speak.