Recently a friend called to share she was going through a rough time. I listened to the many difficult things going on, feeling her pain. At one point she asked my opinion, but before I had a chance to answer, our call ended abruptly. Ugh, the dreaded dropped cell phone call!
I waited a while, but she never called me back.
I suppose she just needed someone to listen and pray for her. But I never got my turn to speak. And she did ask for my opinion, after all.
How many times do we pray and ask the Lord for help, but don’t wait for the Lord to speak?
“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” James 1:19
Ever feel like you do most of the talking and very little listening to the Lord?
Let’s face it, listening is a lost art.
Hearing and listening are two different animals. Hearing refers to the sound that enters your ears. Listening, however, requires more. It requires focus and concentrated effort, both mental and at times physical.
There is an art to listening for God to speak.
In order to truly hear God, we must “tune in” to His frequency. Like a dial on the radio, there are many choices of what station to listen to.
How to Listen to God
We must desire to listen.
“My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.”
We know that God uses His Word to speak to us. But are we reading as if we are listening to the Lord speak into our lives?
If you knew Jesus was sitting at your kitchen table each morning to meet with you over coffee, would you join Him?
Here’s the thing: He is waiting to join you and speak to you whenever you read the Bible. The question is: do you want to hear what He has to say? Like the Scripture above, do we long to hear from Him?
I have a few godly friends who are good at “telling it like it is.” There have been a few seasons where I wasn’t walking closely with the Lord even though I was still attending church and all looked “put together” on the outside. I found myself avoiding the friends who would notice I wasn’t in a good place. Why? They would call me out. And at that time, I wanted to hide.
God’s word is like that. Sometimes I think we avoid God and His word because we want to keep our secret sins in the dark. We avoid the things that will shine a light on it.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17
We must humbly submit our entire selves.
This means even the hidden stuff—although nothing is really hidden since God already know everything. But He wants us to bring our stuff into the light because the light is healing and freeing. With all the junk out of the way, we are better able to “tune in” to His voice.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139: 23-24
Listening requires silence from us.
Mastering the art of listening through meditation is one of my greatest challenges. You see, really listening for God beckons me to an uncomfortable place: Silence.
At first, I hear the lawnmower next door, the ticking of the clock on the mantle. I squirm and try desperately to ‘be still and know He is God.’ I counter the distractions with a prayer, “Please help me Jesus to concentrate on you and hear you.”
I must close my mouth in order to open my heart.
I like to wait on God with my pen and journal ready. I also have my to-do list handy because inevitably my mind will wander to the tasks of the day. I will simply pause and write down a reminder to buy milk then go back to meditating.
Sometimes after a period of silence, I will meditate on an attribute of God I read from Scripture such as faithfulness or grace.
Hearing from God is about our internal posture.
We must desire to hear from God, humbly submit and confess, and be willing to silently wait on Him.
“Our spiritual ear will never be sensitive to his voice if we have a personal agenda to which we are already committed. God leads and speaks to the humble who have surrendered their plans and want to do His will. With an ‘open heaven’ and a surrendered will, we will be able to clearly hear God’s voice in our hearts.” ~Jim Cymbala
What ways have you learned to listen to God? Are you giving God a chance to speak? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Pray requests are always welcome!
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