This morning, we had an unexpected guest of honor in our morning worship service. Our District Superintendent Dr. Jeff Norris happened to be in the area on some personal business, and decided to spend the morning with us. During the service, he shared a little bit about how God has been working on him in recent years. He reminded us that as worthy and important as it is to do things for God, it is equally important that we spend time with God.
Everyone is busy. It might seem like a big chore just to make time every day to pray. But don’t forget that prayer is supposed to be a conversation. As good as it is to take our concerns to God and share what is going on in our lives with Him, we also need to give Him a chance to talk.
Recognizing God’s Voice
The Bible is full of admonishments to listen for God’s voice. For Moses, that meant going up Mount Sinai when the thunder was raging. For Elijah, that meant ignoring the flashy fire and wind to hear the still, small voice. It doesn’t matter how God speaks to you. The important thing is that you listen.
In John 10, Jesus reminds His disciples that He is the true shepherd who has come to lead His sheep. The defining characteristic of a sheep in this passage is that it recognizes its master’s voice. The sheep follow where he leads because they know him by the sound of his voice.
God is speaking to you. If you can’t hear Him, perhaps you just need a little more practice in recognizing His voice. Here are a few steps you can take to start hearing God more clearly:
Be Open to God’s Voice
The first thing you have to do is believe that God wants to talk to you. As Dr. Norris said, God not only loves you, He likes you. He wants to spend time with you. God promises that “you will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Don’t hold anything back from God, and don’t expect Him to hold back from you. You’ll never be serious about listening for God until you fully believe that He will speak.
Be Serious About the Bible
One of the most common ways that God speaks to us is through His word. It is also our best tool for determining if any message we’ve received really is from God. He will never steer us in a direction that goes against Scripture. The more time you spend reading and studying the Bible, the more open you will be to God’s voice.
We are more likely to hear from God when we are walking in step with the Holy Spirit. If we are willfully ignoring sin in our lives or stubbornly going our own way, we’re probably not going to hear from God. God won’t waste His time talking until we are ready to listen.
When you’re praying, give God a chance to talk. If you have a hard time praying because you don’t know what to say, that’s fine. Don’t say anything. Just listen. It’s helpful to set a timer when you start, because it might feel like you’ve been sitting there waiting for God to speak for hours, but it’s probably only been about thirty seconds. Three minutes is a good starting time, and be warned, it will feel like an eternity until you grow comfortable with the silence.
Be patient with God and be patient with yourself. God might not speak the first time you try to sit silent before Him. Sometimes you might come away with a clear message and sometimes you might feel like you just wasted your time. You didn’t waste anything. God will speak when He is ready. Be patient with yourself as well. The first time you try to sit silently in prayer, your mind will probably go running in a million different directions. Focus it on God. When you catch your attention wandering, reset the timer and try again. It’s okay if it takes you thirty minutes to get your three minutes of silence in. It’s a habit, and like any habit it will take time to build. Wherever you start is a great place to begin.