Part II – Conditioning and Positioning Ourselves to Hear From God.
So as promised (although I’m a little late but who’s watching?) here’s the second installment of “God, is that you?”
Now I’m no pastor. Or teacher. I’m just a girl who likes to blog. I’m definitely not the resident expert on the Bible or doctrine and I’m still learning to navigate my own way. But one thing I know for sure: Jesus is my very best friend. He leads me, guides me and speaks to me and even if I’m confused or wrong – I’m never in the dark for long. This relationship works for me not only spiritually, but in my practical everyday life as well. See, a lot of what I’ve realized from listening to or being around Christians is: we either do “church” really well, with little to no Monday to Saturday application or we “attempt” to do life really well and “church” is just something we fit in on Sunday’s – either ritualistically or if we have time.
But I firmly believe that my spirituality should feed and govern my everyday practical life – from the major life decisions to the most minute, seemingly irrelevant detail. And so for me, there’s hardly any point in having a God that only whispers to me about the sweet hereafter, if I’m left powerless to live out my life here on earth. In my relationship with God, I need him to talk to me about the day to day things that concern me – school, work, parenting, my relationships, finances and pretty much everything else. I need a faith that works – that gives me the tools and the answers I need to be empowered to live my daily life and ultimately fulfill my purpose.
I believe that is what I have. I believe that is what I have found in my relationship with God through Jesus Christ – that he is not just some high and mighty God sitting on a throne in the faraway spheres in the skies – but a father, a personal coach and friend.
Now with that disclaimer 🙂 – I’ll attempt to give some personal practical tips that worked for me in positioning me to hear God’s voice and hopefully they will work for you too.
#1 – Establish a Relationship With Him
What is the status of your relationship with him? Dating, married or it’s complicated? One of the major reasons I believe it’s so hard for us to hear God is because we don’t know him. It is unreasonable for us to think that we can readily know or discern the voice of God when we have no ongoing intimate relationship with him. In life, in order to know people we have to spend time with them. It is only after spending time with them that we are able to easily recognize their voice.
For instance, my son often goes outside to play with the neighborhood kids. They are almost always all screaming, talking or laughing at the same time and listening from my window I never know know who’s who but as soon as my son opens his mouth – even if it’s an unintelligible shriek- I recognize HIS voice because he is MY child. I’m his mother and I know him.
I believe God is always speaking. The problem is we often times don’t recognize it. As a loving Father, he longs to talk to us, to be intimate with us and to tell us his secrets. But this necessitates relationship – which by the very nature of the word is continuous, consistent and requires commitment.
We can’t spend our whole lives doing our own thing not ever being mindful of him but yet we expect that as soon as we run to him with a question or a problem he will answer us. We have to seek him. Otherwise, he becomes our personal genie and God is not interested in that. He’s not interested in telling you whether or not that man you’re asking him about is “the one” just so you can get your answer then go off and do your own thing. He wants to be in relationship with you so that even before the man enters your life he can talk to you about him, either to warn you or approve him.
And this isn’t about control as some people erroneously think. It is for our benefit. God, our creator, knows that the only way to true happiness, wholeness and fulfillment in this life is through a relationship with him. And so he will lovingly delay a response or a revelation of himself just to get us in the habit of daily seeking him and clinging to him. Our power is in our dependency on him. Once we realize this and get serious about drawing close, he’ll then begin to speak and reveal things to us.
#2 Read your Bible. Everyday.
The first and foremost revelation of God, his ways and his will is the Bible. It’s the best, most foolproof way of hearing God. You can’t close the bible and then say God doesn’t speak to you. You have to read it. That is God speaking. The Bible is your guide and your qualifier. It’s how you learn the character of God – and how you will be able to discern what he would and would not say. He will never contradict his word and so that is how you will know if what you are hearing is from him or not. (Even if it is through self proclaimed prophets.)
The key practice is to pray before you read it. Here’s an excerpt of a prayer I wrote that I would read religiously before I read the bible:
“Father I pray for a Supernatural outpouring of wisdom in my spirit
Open the eyes of my mind to know your will your purpose for my life and to know what I should be doing in this season of my life;
Each day I strive to learn your Word on a deeper level
Open The eyes of my understanding
Touch my mind to receive retain and reproduce your Word.
May this word become alive in me to mature me to strengthen and anchor me in You and for me to see its fruit in my life not just for me but for all who I touch.”
As you read, the Holy Spirit will begin to open up the scriptures to you and give you revelation about whatever you are going through. Often times we go to God with questions the bible has already answered. For example: Lord should I marry this man? Well, first what does the bible say about husbands- their character and their role? Does he exemplify that? If not – there’s your answer. If he does, you may still need to pray and ask for Holy Spirit guidance because he could be right but not right for you. But now with the bible as your foundation, you have a basis for judgment.
Oh yeah, and get a translation you can understand. Please.
#3 Pray. A lot.
Tell God everything – as you would your best friend. Tell him about your day. Tell him about the thing that ruffled your feathers or made you laugh that day. Tell him your deepest desire. Ask him for that impossible thing you wouldn’t even dare tell anyone you dream about. Tell him when you’re afraid, worried or confused. By doing this, you invite him into your life then suddenly he doesn’t seem so far away. You then learn to talk to Him more and to people less.
Don’t just talk – listen. Quiet your mind and be still. You may not hear anything right away but that is OK, just stay still. At first it may feel strange. Your mind may even try to inject a response but just listen. I usually like to say out loud (no real rhyme or reason) “Holy Spirit you are welcome here,” then I just get quiet. As you keep doing so you invite him to speak and soon you’ll begin to get insight and revelation on just about everything you gave to him. After doing it consistently over a period of time, it will feel more natural and less effortful and you will find it easier to just slip into that quiet space inside where you can hear from him. Also, get in the habit of journaling. Whatever you thought you heard – write it down. Even if it’s a bible verse or just a word that’s resonating, write it down and ask the Lord what is he trying to communicate to you by putting this verse or word on your mind.
#4 Have Date Time (or that’s what I like to call it).
It’s the most exciting part of bonding with your spouse or partner and so it is with God as well. Set aside consistent quiet time to meet with Him at the same time every day. I like to have coffee with Jesus every morning. I play my worship music and talk to him about whatever is on my mind while I sip my coffee. I also like to have bed talk or I use my lunch hour. It can be whatever you decide but make sure that it is consistent – same time every day and same place if your schedule allows. There should also be a place in your home where you meet with him – prayer closet, bathroom, a window or corner – whatever you choose. I believe setting aside a specific place creates an atmosphere of holiness and reverence and positions you to hear and receive from him more clearly.
#5 Feed your spirit, starve your flesh. Seriously.
Start by emptying your life of fruitless distractions. What are you watching, reading, listening to consistently? Don’t be deceived… there is no such thing as mindless entertainment. Whatever you feed your mind, you will ultimately reproduce so make sure you are intentionally filling it up with the things of God. Be mindful of your void fillers and your choice of “fun.”
You can’t hear God in a mind full of muck. Discipline your mind and focus your thoughts. If you took inventory of your thoughts on a day to day basis you’d be surprised at the thoughts you have that aren’t actually yours but are a result of all the other voices you hear on a consistent basis- whether your family, friends or choice of entertainment. Disciplining your mind and filling it with things of the Spirit enables you to focus your thoughts and gets rid of the other voices. Then, when you have a thought that doesn’t belong you’ll be better able to identify it and bring it captive. Or when you hear God’s still small voice you will not ignore it as just another random thought of yours.
Which takes us to Part 3: Ways in Which God Speaks, which I will post in a few days.
Until then, remember that a relationship with God is critical to our personal growth and development and our success in Christ. It is key to finding out who we are in him and unlocking the details of our destiny. The mystery to who we are is shut up in our Creator and the only way to decoding this mystery is through a solid relationship with him where we abide in him and he speaks to us and tells us his secrets.