Tuning In Part 4: Are we paying attention?
As we continue our exploration of different ways that we can tune into God and listen to him, in this blog we’re looking at ‘hearing’ – revelation that comes in the form of words, phrases and sentences. The Bible is full of stories of people ‘hearing the word of the Lord’ though we’re rarely told the exact nature of these experiences. As is true for us today, I’m sure that in some of these it was the audible voice of God that was heard, but others would have involved the internal voice.
I’ve never heard the audible voice of God myself, though I know a number of people who have. But I have heard God speak to me many times through a word or phrase resonating in my mind and spirit. One thing that has helped me in my own journey of hearing God better is the realisation that most of the time God speaks in whispers. He’s the God of the still, small voice, and so to tune in to him requires us to be attentive to those quiet nudges and prompts that are so easy to miss. Most of us live in a very noisy world, full of competing voices and a myriad of distractions, so we have to be very intentional about creating space and a quietened heart to hear him. Remember: there is nothing wrong with God’s voice. He is speaking much more than we realise, we’re just not always very good at paying attention.
A great way to grow in hearing God’s voice is to ask him questions. It’s important that we don’t lose the child-like freedom to ask questions of our heavenly Father. After all, the One we worship has the answer to every question we could ever ask:
“Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!”
“Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
The Holy Spirit, the Counsellor and Spirit of Truth, lives within each of us, and Jesus promises that the Spirit will teach us all things (John 14:26). So let’s be confident that if we inquire of the Lord he will have an answer for us.
Journaling is one of the best ways to listen to God’s answers: this is where we write down our conversations with God. I love to sit in a quiet place with my journal, and after a time of simple prayer and worship, start to write down my conversation with the Father. Sometimes the answers come straight away; sometimes they emerge over time as I take note of the different things he draws my attention to in scripture and as I go about my daily life.
As well as journaling there is also the habit of asking questions of God in the moment, throughout the day. Wherever we are we can ask, “Holy Spirit, what are you saying or doing here? How can I join in?” Practising this form of dialogue with the Spirit will sharpen our ability to stay tuned in to his voice. The ability to discern his voice from our own thoughts grows as we step out in faith and act on the whispers.