Friday, May 15, 2015

2015: The Year of Prayer - Week 19

How do you hear from God?

That maybe the second most asked question in the history of religion, right behind Does God exist?

It is not an unfamiliar search for the answer, either, as every new Christian has to figure out the way God speaks to them.  The key to hearing Him, though, is faith.  Believing He will speak to you.  Frankly, if you never believe He speaks or take the time to listen...He will be speaking but you will never hear Him!

The next question is: What do I do when God speaks to me?  That's an easy one: you shut up and listen....then do what He tells you (or at least begin the work of how to obey...but you should obey!)

This week has been about re-examining if I hear from God and how.  The end result is: Yes, I do hear from God and I can trust that I do.

The most common way I hear from Him is through His Word.  That is the fail-safe.  You can never, ever, ever go wrong when you read The Word!  A (good) article I found on hearing from God says this about hearing from the Lord through Scripture: In order to actually "hear" from God, we have to know some things about God's character. We have to develop an understanding of who God is, and the way he does things. Fortunately for us, all that information is available in the Bible. The Book goes into a lot of detail about how you can expect God to react, what kinds of expectations he has for us, and most specifically, how he expects us to treat other people.  (Read the article in its entirety here.)

When we know God, we will begin to discern His voice from the other influences "speaking" into us.  I've told my girls I typically know the difference between God's voice and my own not because it really SOUNDS any different but usually because the Holy Spirit tells me things I wouldn't normally think, say or do, in and of myself.

There was one situation a few years ago I went back to this week.  We were really struggling with a major life decision and I could get no peace about it in prayer.  Early one morning, I got on the treadmill in our garage.  I was running along, having this running dialogue (no pun intended) when I felt - more than heard - the question:

Do you trust Me?

Now, that is not something I would say to myself because the answer would quickly be "No."  There was something so solid in this "voice," in the question itself.  It was like 11 years ago, after being called a hypocrite, I first felt Him probing me to answer the question, "Who do you say that I am?"  Answering that question put me on my current path of faith.  It was the same voice as before - not said to make me feel bad; only asked to reveal the content of my heart.

Occasionally, God wants to reaffirm Who He is - not for His benefit but for ours.  After I picked myself up from the shock of nearly being thrown off the treadmill, I got down on my face and said, "YES, LORD.  I trust You!"  The difficulty of our circumstances was in no way changed, but my perspective was completely altered in a way that equipped me to walk in a manner worthy of my calling - namely walking full of peace and hope.

The voice of God empowers us.  It fills us with life so we can act in loving, caring do what Jesus did.  The voice of the enemy only tears us down.  You see, the enemy doesn't speak about things like trust, faith, hope, love, goodness, decency, purity, excellence.  Those are not things he wants for us!  Hello!  He is the father of lies!  So while he might lead with a little bit of the truth, you won't hear life in his words.  Evil is only about death.  The enemy and his agents make statements which leave us feeling condemned, hated, ugly, unworthy, guilty and shameful (to name a few).

This week has been another lesson of trust - trusting His voice over the voices of others.  I have had to dig in deep...lots of conversations in prayer - both voiced and silent.  It was an effort to confirm the direction I'm headed is indeed the right one.  I got shaken up and unsure.  In the first letter to the Corinthian church (which I've been reading this week) the Apostle Paul gives them an earful on how to operate in the Spirit.  Right in the middle of establishing how things should run in a church (orderly, as in, we should take turns), he writes,

...for God is not a God of confusion but of peace...(1 Cor 14:33)

If I'm walking around confused and out of whack, upset, frustrated and without a shred of peace - that's not God.  Even if the Holy Spirit has asked me to do something hard (and He has) - even when I have heartburn and can't see how this is possibly going to work out - His peace will override my flesh.  You know....that peace that surpassing all understanding?

This week was an exercise in confirmation that the Lord will never leave me.  He will not forsake me.  The truth of Isaiah 30:20-21 in full effect:  He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher. Your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right or to the left.

In the midst of questioning, doubts and internal wheel spinning, there has been peace at the core of me.  My own internal compass is pointed in the right direction, even when other voices were telling me it wasn't.  He primarily used His Word (as it is the most reliable source) but I experienced other ways too: His people, His Presence, circumstances, dreams and visions.

They have all been in full effect this week!

All these verses I quote, all these promises in Scripture - they aren't just for me.  They are for every believer.  The Lord wants to speak to us. Hearing from God isn't rocket science but it does require risk.  The risk is: when you ask the Lord to speak, you have to be willing to listen.  If He speaks to me, He wants to speak to you too.  I've written about how 3 times my father has heard an audible voice from God (read that here.)  I have too - once.  But 98% of the time, I hear from God by the tried and true methods I've mentioned.

(Bob Mumford has a great book on this called Take Another Look at Guidance, if you want to dig deeper.)

Walking through this challenging week in prayer has lead me back to one certainty: God does speak.  I do hear Him.  He loves me and I love Him.  I know and can trust His voice.  Lo, He is with me to the very end of the age.  (Matthew 28:20)

Hearing from God is a learned skill.  I will continue to learn but He is faithful to teach.  The struggle this week was worth it as I am more secure in what He is doing in and through me.  

My ears are open - speak, Lord, for your servant is listening!  (1 Sam 3:9)

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