Hearing from God
Somewhere a radical change in our prayer life needs to take place. Many of us take to heart Paul’s words in Philippians 4:6
Don’t worry or get upset about anything, but no matter what is going on let the Lord know your viewpoint about everything, not forgetting to thank Him constantly.
This is good and a major step in your Christian growth. But there is nothing here about listening. At this point we are still talking about monologue.
Developing dialog: The practice of prayer
Experience is required and this is only developed through practice. You need to be trying to hear from the Lord on a moment by moment, hour by hour, daily, monthly, yearly basis for a long time before you will get any good at hearing from God.
By now we should be longing to hear from God. He rarely speaks to us audibly—though that is surely possible. We’ve read about Him and what He did with the Jews and the early church as we studied the Bible—very important, you should also read it as a good book, like you would curl up with an exciting novel. The result will be that we know quite a bit about Him. But we want to talk with Him. This is where our true knowing begins.
None of the required knowing of God can happen unless you can hear from the Lord. The problem of hearing clearly from the Lord is always with us. I want to share some practical tips that might help you do this better in your own life. They are not infallible but they have worked for me for over three decades now.
Discerning your thoughts
Have you ever wondered why you have such evil thoughts? Consider that some of them might be demonic. Of course, the human heart is capable of horrendously evil thoughts all on its own. But not all the garbage comes from within. The good news is that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you can get control over that evil.
I do not want to get into arguments here. Some people get really freaked out at the suggestion that demons can speak to you in your mind. Your theology does not concern me. The reality is that it happens. Just remember Jesus’ strong admonishment to Peter in Matthew 16:23 “Get thee behind me, Satan.” It is obvious that the enemy was using Peter to talk to Jesus. He probably used thoughts in Peter’s mind to trigger the outburst.
It has been clear to me for a long time that my thoughts have three sources:
- the Lord: Father, Son, &/or Holy Spirit
- the enemy: Satan and his minions
So when I am looking for guidance and seeking to hear from the Lord I need to be careful. As I make my daily, moment-by-moment decisions I need to be careful. I must discern the source of my thoughts.
More than that, I need to seriously practice hearing the Lord. I’ve mentioned this in passing several times already. You will never hear clearly from Him unless you practice hearing His voice and learning to recognize when it is Him and when it is not.
With practice you can definitely learn to recognize who is speaking to you in the answers you get to questions you ask in your thoughts. You need to pray a lot about many things and carefully observe the results. You need to ask questions, and then listen for the answers you get.
Some sample questions to ask
- What do you want me to do next? This is a super question to ask.
- Which fruit should I buy? (in a pile of fruit at the grocery store—you do want one that is ripe, that is not spoiled, and that will not spoil quickly, right?)
- Which book should I read?
- What movie should I see?
- What TV show should I watch?
- How should I design the cover for this book?
- What do you want me to do to help get my grandson saved?
- Should I take a vacation? You certainly don’t deserve one, so you better ask if He wants you to take one.
- Should I move? If yes: Where should I move to?
- Which courses should I take? Which teacher would be best, Lord?
You will be surprised to discover how many of your answers come from spiritual sources outside your mind. It will always be a walk of faith. It will rarely reach certainty. But there are clues and the personalities of the thought providers are very different from each other.