Imagine being out in the cold for hours in a heavy snowfall. Doesn’t a roaring fire sound amazing? The comfort brought to long winters by warming at a fire is all but universal. But without knowing how to make one, you’re out of luck! A good fire doesn’t happen by accident. It takes time to learn how to turn a match stick into a blaze. A similar feeling of comfort comes to the children of God when we enter into communication with him, both speaking and, in turn, listening to what he has to say. But what good is knowing that it is a comfort if you don’t know how to have that closeness?
Do you find yourself in times of prayer and not knowing what is from God and what is just your own thoughts? Do you know the voice of God? Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”(John 10:27). God is beyond our ways and higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9) but even still he made us to commune with him, it has been his desire for us since the beginning of humanity’s existence. Make no mistake, God wants to speak to you, he wants you to know him. “How can I hear from God?” you ask? Well buckle in, this might be a surprise…
For starters, read the Bible. Like for more than five minutes. Scripture is God’s words to his people (2 Timothy 3:16), to overlook that is like overlooking a letter or biography in trying to get to know someone. Everything you read in the Bible is a look into the very nature of God. He is the same now as he was when those words were first written down (Hebrews 13:8). In order to know the voice of God, you must know who he is. When you’re praying, start by speaking the attributes of God back to him and reflecting on those things.
Next, approach your time of prayer anticipating God to speak, even if it’s something you already knew about himself or you. God is the author of truth so all true things are from his own authorship. Some of my most intimate times of prayer have been God simply reminding me of who he is and my identity he’s given me. I’ve discredited God speaking to me because it didn’t sound “mystical enough” because my expectations were wrong. Rather than seeking spectacle, let your prayers be similar to those of David: “Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart” (Psalm 51:6), “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11). Expectation for God to speak and knowledge that God is who he says he is and knowing him more deeply will help discern if you’re hearing from God.
Then, after asking God to speak to you, meditating on his scriptures, and posturing your heart and mind to receive from him, listen. You may not hear anything in your head or out loud, maybe all you hear is just the words of the scriptures you read. The only way to know how God will speak is to stop the one-sidedness of your conversation with him. Listen to him, dwell on his character. As a child of God, you have Holy Spirit dwelling within you, you can be very sure he hears you, and will help you in understanding what he is speaking (Romans 8). This is the hardest part for me, my mind is constantly racing with images and sounds and I’m sure some of you relate. Ask God to provide a place of quiet for you, whether a physical place or in your mind, so you can be still to listen.
To you who desire to hear God and haven’t, do not be discouraged. God is not hiding from you. Come before him, confess anything that brings you distance from him. Read his words, meditate on his character, observe the beauty of his creation. Then, ask him to speak to you, to give you more understanding. I encourage everyone reading, including myself, to take extended time to be silent before God and really listen. Make time in your routine to be ministered to by God. It's what you were made for.
Love you all!