Not sure if it’s you or God?
Most of us have been there—probably more often than we care to admit. If you have struggled to know whether or not you are hearing from God, you’re in good company.
(read part one of the series HERE)
Jesus tells us in John 10:1-5 that His followers will recognize His voice. But in 1 Samuel 3, Samuel hears God’s voice three times and still doesn’t recognize it until Eli, the priest instructs him. These two stories give us valuable information. First, it is possible to be a follower of God and also be immature about recognizing His voice. Secondly, we can learn how to recognize God’s voice.
Practice ‘Tuning In’ to God’s Voice
Learning to recognize the voice of God takes practice. We must regularly exercise our spiritual muscles in order to strengthen our ability to discern when God is speaking.
Think of it this way. Radio and television stations are constantly transmitting, but we only hear them when we “tune in” the receiver. Failure to hear the signal doesn’t mean the station isn’t transmitting. Often times we are busy tuning into other stations, or we’re caught up in “transmission” (pleading with God) when the problem is the “receiver”.
3 Ways to ‘Tune In’ to God’s Voice Through Prayer Journaling
1. Fix our eyes on Jesus with Journaling Gratitude
This requires focus. It actually starts with a posture of the heart before I even begin journaling. Have you ever heard the song Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus? Here’s the chorus:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
For example, think about one of those “find the hidden object” pictures. Perhaps it’s the picture of a gorgeous Victorian house. But within the picture, there are hidden objects: a hammer, balloon, and so on. When you are looking for the hidden objects, you’re no longer focused on the house.
Often times, we desire to hear from the Lord, but our focus is not on Him alone. There are things in the way: worries, sin, needs, and desires.
We must quiet ourselves before the Lord and focus on Him. There are many things to distracts us. I have found I’m my own biggest distraction.
I find a quiet place and picture myself sitting at the feet of Jesus (I truly picture this in my mind’s eye) before I open the journal.
The first thing I do is write at least 3 things I am thankful for.
Perhaps it’s things from the previous day. Or maybe the day was pretty bad so I focus on writing about God’s faithfulness to me: His presence in a difficult situation, a Scripture, etc. It might be as simple as, “thank you for giving me a good night’s sleep, Lord.”
2. Journaling Scripture
God’s main way to communicate is through the Bible. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 2 Timothy 3:16
It is true that the Bible gives us warnings, encouragement, and lessons. However, we must not only look at scripture as merely instructions and rules. If that was all God wanted us to know, that’s all He would have provided. But God tells us story after story about the lives of real people with real problems and real lessons so that we can relate. We can relate to not only the people and their situations, but to the character of God that is demonstrated through the stories themselves. In fact, the Bible is HIS story—written in love to help us know Him.
The more time you spend in the Word, the more you get to know God, and the more you are able to discern when He is speaking to you.
Journaling Scripture looks like this.
I use the SOAK method which is an acronym:
K—Kneel (in Prayer)
I divide a page of my journal into four quadrants. I literally draw a cross down the middle of my journal page.
In the first space: I write out the Scripture. That’s it. There have been many studies done on how writing something down increases the likelihood of remembering it later.
In the second space: I write what I Observe without using a commentary. This means to write what stands out. Did I learn something about God’s character? Is there a promise? Are there repeated words?
In the second space: I write out the Application. What is God saying to me? How can I apply this? Are there changes I need to make or an action I need to take?
In the fourth space: Kneel in prayer. I cannot kneel and write at the same time. This is more about the posture of my heart. I take this time to write about confession, praises, thank Him for answered prayer, and ask for His help to accomplish the things He is asking me to do or change. Sometimes, I will close my journal and get on my knees if I feel prompted.
I wrote a book (with a few other godly women) using the SOAK method called Legacy: Living NOW for Future Generations.It is a devotional study journal through 2 Timothy.
3. Writing Prayers, Answers, and God’s Response
Prayers and Answers
I like to write out my prayers and answered prayers in a journal for two main reasons: It helps me stay focused (otherwise I find myself distracted in my thoughts with things like my grocery list), and writing answers builds my faith.
For more specifics, see my post 3 Ways to Keep A Prayer Journal.
Writing God’s Response
Over the last 20 plus years of prayer journaling, I have experienced God impressing His thoughts back to me. The key is making sure we are hearing Him and not our own thoughts or what the enemy wants us to hear. Friends, we can have the mind of Christ.
How to Know I’m Writing God’s Response
God impresses thoughts as we journal. My own thoughts are analytical. However, while prayer journaling, I find that I also tend to write more spontaneous “heart” thoughts. Here are ways I have found God speaks through the journaling process.
- It’s like my thoughts but spontaneous and not so analytical.
It’s still how I speak but usually kinder, and more directive. The gospels were written by different people and tell the account in the author’s “voice.” Luke’s approach is different than Matthew’s and yet it is God speaking through them using their personal mannerisms.
- It always corresponds with Scripture.
God will never go against His Word. I know what I have written is my own thoughts (or the enemy) and not His if it doesn’t display God’s character and commands.
- God’s response may be in the first person.
Example: “Daughter, I love you. I have called you to write.”
- It may have unusual content: Be kinder, wiser, motive oriented, directive.
Example: “I am proud of you, daughter.” Or: “Go to the new Mormon neighbors next door and share about your faith.”
- It may cause a special reaction.
Example: Excitement, conviction, faith, awe, peace, etc.
My friends, the Lord is speaking. I have found prayer journaling to be a helpful way to focus and “tune in” on what wonders He has to share!
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