“A wise man listens to advice.” Proverbs 12:15
Are you uncomfortable with the idea of listening to God speak? Have you ever tried, during prayer and quiet Bible reading time, to actually listen for God’s whispers? There are Christians who have been earnest believers for decades but have never experienced hearing directly from God. Admittedly, it takes faith. And, if you aren’t already familiar with God and His Word, you can mistake your own wishes for the voice of God, so it’s not surprising that some choose not to even try and hear a personal word for themselves. Generally, however, people who do not “hear” the voice of God (and it may not be an audible voice), do not hear it because they do not listen for it.
A: They don’t really believe they can hear from God.
B: They’ve never experienced it. Just as people laughed at Noah when he said it was going to rain, some people scoff at the idea of listening to God simply because they’ve never known of it happening. Which brings us to the third reason some people never will:
C: They’re secretly afraid to. (What if God tells them to go be a missionary to Africa? Horrors! On a less extreme note, what if God simply tells them to do something they don’t want to do? What if their nice, ordered world is disturbed? )
Actually, the Lord is much more likely to gently encourage you in baby steps of growth that will lead you to become more like Him, garnishing favor with God and man, becoming more fully the person he has always intended you to be.
Do some people abuse the notion that God speaks to his people? Absolutely. The person who constantly says, “God told me this,” or, “God said that,” (who wears green socks instead of black because “God” told him to) is likely mistaken. Great errors have been made based on someone’s mistaken idea that “God” told him or her to do something. This is why a knowledge of scripture is vital for listening. The Lord will never direct anyone to do something outside of his revealed will in His Word!
The best way I know to “listen” for God’s voice is to keep a pen and notebook with me during prayer and Bible study time. It is during those quiet times with the Lord that I get thoughts for the devotions I write. God is giving me the lesson, and I simply share it with you. So try it. Keep a pen and paper handy. Jot down the names of people the Lord brings to your mind while you pray, or during your reading. Be willing to stray from your own prayer list as the Holy Spirit reminds you of other needs. Often, I am reminded of unfinished business with a person, and sometimes I stop right there and then to shoot off an overdue email, or pick out the right card to send to someone later. I do this trusting that the Lord knows the important, whereas I usually respond only to the urgent.
“Wise men store up knowledge.” Proverbs 10:14a Next time you pray and read the Word, have a pen and paper with you, make an effort to “listen” by just keeping an open mind; and see what happens! Use a notebook just for this purpose, and soon you’ll be storing up knowledge–right from the mouth of God!