I still feel somewhat weird when I talk to friends and family and I say “well God told me..” and they look at me funny. Or sometimes, in my meditation time the Lord will reveal something to me that excites me so much that I just want to tell someone but because I know how “spooky” it sounds to them I just don’t. Truth is, in my circle of close family members and friends I’m pretty much the only “saved one” and so conversations with them about what God told me can be pretty awkward. I usually get the blank stare followed by “you mean God talks you.. Like how?” And then I’m usually fumbling for words trying to explain just how and what that means.
Then there are those whom I kinda sorta “mentor” who are struggling to hear from God. They usually marvel at just how “easy” it seems for me to ask God a question and get an answer or ask for clarity about an issue and he responds to me, but yet they feel as though God never speaks to them. In fact, my sister and I were having a conversation recently and she expressed her frustration with trying to hear from God but yet he seemed silent. “But why won’t he speak to me?!” She asked in frustration. “Shouldn’t he want to make it easy for me to hear from him?” None of my responses would pacify her so, after praying, I decided to tackle it in this blog post. Besides, as unbelievable as it may seem I’m not that articulate in person and trying to explain just leaves me sounding like a gibbering, stuttering mess so maybe after writing it out someone will be blessed.
Also, this is such a multi-faceted topic. Hearing from God entails so much more than just asking him a question like you would a friend and getting a clear, audible response. It involves, faith, relationship, and maintaining a lifestyle such that your heart and mind are free from distractions so that you can actually hear him and know. It involves discernment. There are many different ways that God communicates with us and so we need to be so spiritually in tuned that when God uses a different means to communicate than he typically does, we can know and discern his voice. As such this will be done in three parts.
Part 1: My journey and personal testimony
Part 2: Ways in which we can both condition and position ourselves to be able to hear Him.
Part 3: Ways in Which He speaks
I first got saved in March of 2011 at home in my living room, by myself. (For real.) However, it took me a while to really become spiritually mature and commit myself to my walk and to Christ. By 2012, I think it would be safe to say that I had completely backslidden. (I’m sure that’s the correct tense but feel free to correct me.) I’d gotten into a new relationship and let’s just say that what that relationship required of me and what God wanted from me were two very different things. I chose the relationship. Of course, it failed. (There’s a lesson here if you’re willing to grasp it.)
Around 2013, I’d had enough of that life and I was ready to re-commit myself to Christ. In January 2013, I distinctly felt like the Lord spoke to me in a dream. But as I wasn’t too familiar with the whole God speaking to me thing – I didn’t quite know what to make of it. Nevertheless, I decided to heed the call because it just “felt” real. I knew that in order for me to really trust God with my life and hand over the reins to him, I had to be able to hear him. I remember distinctly knowing that I couldn’t continue on the path that I was on and that the only way to unlocking my destiny was to get the details from God himself. Problem is, I didn’t know what that looked like and I didn’t know any Christians to ask. I also didn’t belong to a church or hadn’t been inside of one for a number of years for that matter, so I was basically on my own.
However, I remember that an old friend of mine had given me a book called “Woman Thou Art Loosed” written by some preacher called TD Jakes and it was a great book. Besides, I’d seen this TD character on Oprah, so he had to be legit. (I mean it’s Oprah.) I took to YouTube and listened to his sermons all day. I mean all day- I was hooked. Well, as God would have it, one of the most memorable sermons I listened to was called “Can you hear me now?” and it was about hearing God. So that gave me the starting point I needed. From there on out I would google articles and other sermons about hearing God but I didn’t quite feel as if any of it was helpful so I decided to pray. Here is an excerpt of the “letter” I prayed to God back then:
“Lord help me to know when it’s your voice. Teach me to listen and know so that when I receive instructions from You I don’t ignore or delay it because I am not sure. Jesus said “my sheep know my voice and another they will not follow.” I am your sheep. Teach me to know and listen and recognize.
Help me to quiet the chatter in my mind, to rid my life of fruitless distractions and stay focused on you.”
I prayed this prayer for weeks. (Looking back, I now realize that maybe the reason I was stripped of everything “fun” was a result of this prayer- so if you are going to use it be prepared.) I would read John 10 constantly and rehearse in my mind “my sheep know my voice”. I did this for a number of weeks, maybe. I can’t say if God spoke to me anywhere in between then. I know he’s always finding ways to speak to us but I cannot say that I recognized his voice at that time. I was mostly experiencing Him through TD Jakes and whatever he said in his sermons. I do remember hearing the message “Nothing just happens” and I cried so hard because I knew somehow God was speaking to me through that message. But other than that – nothing that I can remember.
Until one Friday evening I was sitting home reading the book of John. I had plans to go to a lounge with some friends but somehow I found myself buried in the Bible. I remember it was almost time for me to get ready to go out and my friend called but I lied (don’t stone me) and told her I had no baby sitter. My son wasn’t even home, he was with his dad. I just couldn’t put the Bible down. I literally felt as if I was experiencing it in a very palpable way and I could not pull away. Mind you, I’d read the book of John several times and I can’t even remember why I was reading it again.
But then I came to John 15:16, “You didn’t choose me, I chose you…” I read it but somehow I heard it. Over and over I kept hearing it “you didn’t choose me, I chose you.”
You didn’t choose me, I chose you.
You didn’t choose me, I chose you.
The tears started to flow. It was so strong that I spoke back. “But nobody ever chooses me.”
And he said it again “I know. But I chose you.”
It was as if a light bulb went off and certain things about my life and my past INSTANTLY made sense.
I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. Was the Almighty God of this great grand universe seriously speaking to me? He was. I cried and cried and cried some more. All I can remember saying over and over is “OMG, Jesus is the Son of God and he chose me!”
As if that wasn’t dramatic enough, I go to church on Sunday (by now I’d started attending Christian Cultural Center) and what does my pastor preach? You guessed it, John 15:16! Mind you, my pastor is a teacher he almost never preaches but he preached that day about divine election and I cried the entire sermon. I remember there was a young lady next to me, she had to be in her teens and I had no idea who she was.. She put her arm around me and held me the entire time and after everyone left she gave me the tightest hug. We never spoke a word and I’ve never seen her since.
For sure that was my confirmation from the Lord that what I experienced that Friday night was very real.
I believe The Father saw me drawing close and he revealed himself to me. James 4:8 tells us that if we draw close to God He will draw close to us. From that day on it was a process – sometimes by trial and error- but that’s really the basis of it all. He promised if we seek him with all our hearts we will find him (Jer. 29:13). And so to hear him, we have to seek him diligently and to develop the kind of prayer life where God speaks and reveals things to us, we must have a solid personal relationship with him.
I’ll post Part 2 in a few days but until then, be blessed and be encouraged and just know that if you are struggling to hear God’s voice in your situation just keep praying. He is a rewarder of those who DILIGENTLY seek him (Heb 11:6). As with most things in life your reward is in your diligence.