Listening to God
When I was a new Christian, and attending my first church services in the strange new world of what Christians do, I felt God speak to me. It was an odd experience. I felt quite sure that God was asking me to speak to a particular church member and tell them that God loved them. The difficulty was, this particular church member was on the leadership team. He was someone I looked up to. It felt a little scary to relay a message from God to him. However, I reasoned that as God loves everyone, that even if this wasn’t God asking me to do this, it certainly would do no harm whatsoever to tell someone that God loved them.
Taking courage, I walked up to the person concerned, sat next to them, and said, “This sounds a little strange, but I think that God wants me to tell you that he loves you.” The man gave a great snort, and I turned to him to apologise that of course he already knew that, only to find tears running down his face. He poured out his heart to me, difficulties he was facing, how God seemed so distant to him. He was emotionally overcome to know that God loved him so much he had sent someone to let him know how much he was loved.
As you might imagine, this event had a profound impact upon me. It was a revelation not only that God wishes to communicate with us, but that when he speaks his words to us, even through another person, they are accompanied by a powerful anointment of blessing. And so began a hunger within me to get to know better this God who speaks to us and to find out how to listen to his voice.
Listening to God is not the easiest thing to do. Yet when we seek him, he longs to be found by us. I think therefore that God helps us to learn to hear him and to recognise his voice. I like to make it a daily habit to spend time in God’s presence. Somewhere without distractions, where I can sit and be still before him. Perhaps a corner of the garden, a church building, a quiet room, with a candle, or some music, or the words of Morning or Evening Prayer - and always with a Bible. As I begin to read the Bible I ask God to speak to me, to open up the meaning of the Bible to help me understand better. As I read I have paper and pencil beside me to jot down any thoughts (or write down anything that seeks to distract me, like remembering to ring Maggie or order more chicken food).
After reading, I begin to pray. Either through the notes I’ve made or anything which has come up in the reading, or that is topical or on my mind. I continue to ‘listen’ to God as I pray and write down any thoughts, ideas, images or words that come to mind. Sometimes I write down what I imagine God might be saying to me. It can be whole sentences such as in Journaling - a practice of writing down phrases coming from a place of prayer. Sometimes I am not sure if this is God speaking, sometimes it seems to be a mixture of my own thoughts and his, but nearly always there is something new - an idea, a thought, an insight - to treasure and take away from the time of prayer.
Prayer is such a rich treasure trove. We give ourselves to God and he gives so much more back to us. Let me invite you to a great journey of discovery as we learn to listen to God’s voice and hear the eternal song of God’s love for his creation.
May you be richly blessed,