LISTENING TO GOD
“Hearing God’s voice requires a listening heart. Mastering the art of listening is one of my greatest challenges.” -Unknown
John 10:27 says, "My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me."
Listening to God is a very important part of the Christian life. God wants to speak to us and we should desire to hear what He has to say. William Barclay said, "Prayer is not a way of making use of God; prayer is a way of offering ourselves to God in order that He should be able to make use of us. It may be that one of our great faults in prayer is that we talk too much and listen too little. When prayer is at its highest, we wait in silence for God's voice to us.”
Listening to God is like listening to anyone else…before you can hear Him, you have to be ready to listen. Just like any other conversation, you can’t hear the other person if you are talking over them or if your mind is somewhere else. It is the same with God. If we want to hear Him we have to be quiet (so hard in a time in history that is rarely silent) and you have to be singularly focused on what He is saying.
A conversation goes two ways and involves speaking as well as listening, but a monologue is one-sided where there is only one person talking. Chances are that most of us monologue with God instead of conversing with God.
Regular CONVERSATION with God will transform your life! We all need to find…no, MAKE time to meet with God everyday. It is essential to being successful in this Christian life.
Is God someone you can hear? The Bible says He is, and the Bible is one of the main avenues through which He speaks to us. We live in a world full of noise. Almost everywhere we go, we find sounds and images competing for our attention and focus, keeping us from letting our thoughts go past the surface level. Hearing God's voice means choosing to not listen to the noise of the world around us. It's not easy, but it is critical and it can be done. King David gave us a model for our time with God… “Let me experience your faithful love in the morning, for I trust in you. Reveal to me the way I should go because I appeal to you." (Psalm 143:8). He is seeking God's plan and direction in the morning… at the beginning of the day. Like a soldier in the army, he wanted to hear from his Commander before he entered the battle. Beginning each day with God is a great way to start your day! Scripture says that Jesus went off in the mornings to a solitary place to pray. Lamentations 3:22-23 say that “His mercies are new every morning” and “His faithfulness is great!” You have to find the time of day that works for you, but morning seems to be the best time, if that is possible. Do you want to hear God speak to you? Listening to God requires regular time in reading and studying the Bible since it is the Word of God. Listening to God requires that our hearts are committed to hearing and understanding the message that HE has for us rather than what WE want to hear.
God can speak to us through visual images. The prophet Habakkuk experienced this… in Habakkuk chapter 2. He was longing to hear from God! He was longing to hear so much that he was willing to stand and wait as long as it took."I will stand at my guard post and station myself on the lookout tower. I will watch to see what He will say to me and what I should reply about my complaint" (Habakkuk 2:1). Because he was willing to wait and hear, Habakkuk found that God was faithful. "The Lord answered me: Write down this vision; clearly inscribe it on tablets so one may easily read it. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it testifies about the end and will not lie. Though it delays, wait for it, since it will certainly come and not be late." (Habakkuk 2:2-3).
Listening to God requires a right attitude in our hearts. Not only do we need to be open to hearing what God has to say but, when He speaks, we have to be willing to do what He says. We have to determine ahead of time that we will do WHATEVER He asks or tells us. In order to listen to God and receive His instruction, we have to WANT to do His will… like Habakkuk did.
God blesses and honors the heart that is FULLY surrendered to Him. If we are stubborn and we are still clinging to our own will and desires the message will be confused. The message we get will be an unclear or wrong message that will not be God's voice at all but rather WHAT WE WANT God’s message to be. The likely result will be that we will continue pursuing a path that is not what God has for us but rather what we think it should be.
Psalm 40:8 says, "I delight to do YOUR WILL, my God, and YOUR INSTRUCTION is deep within me."
In Luke 22 Jesus is praying in the garden and He says “not my will, but YOURS, be done”
Do you desire God's will for your life above your will? 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 can understand and be encouraged to obey.
When we listen to God and obey Him, we will find a life that is full of purpose and blessing.