Hearing God’s Voice, Part 2

Hearing God’s Voice, Part 2

Does the Holy Spirit really speak to people? And if so, can everyone expect to hear God’s voice?

In my last post we talked about hearing God’s voice and I told about my pastor’s experience of hearing God give him clear life direction while standing up high, overlooking an Asian city. For some of us, that kind of specific and piercing direction from God, though not necessarily a daily occurrence, is something we have experienced from time to time as we’ve traveled life with God. For others of us, we’ve not once heard God speak in such a direct and unmistakable way.

What gives? Do some “have it” and some just don’t when it comes to Dallas Willard’s second “light” along the path of hearing God? We can all learn to look objectively at our circumstances and find the promptings God might be offering through where he’s placed us and who he’s made us to be (the first “light,” see my last post). But this second light of listening to the promptings of the Spirit–what if that one feels like a black hole rather than any kind of light to our path?

I learned something about hearing God many years ago, when I was in my early 20’s and was in a job that felt like a dead end. I was far from home working with words, but the words were about fishing and bowhunting, day in and day out. More than any non-outdoorsportswoman could ever want to read on these subjects, and then some. I had many passions and great energy to put somewhere, but I couldn’t figure out where or how. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I followed job leads only to reach more dead ends. I pleaded for his guidance, and felt like I was in a wrestling match with God trying to understand what he wanted from my life.

One evening I was sitting at a weekly church gathering of singles and my roommate was playing piano as the group worshiped. She asked me to sit with her and turn  pages. As I sat at that piano, an impression came to me so strongly and without warning that I knew it was God, speaking in gracious answer to my pleading. “Of course I am going to show you my will. Don’t you know that I want my will for you infinitely more than you want it for yourself? And if I want my will for you, then you don’t have to fight me to get it. I will work it out for you in my way and my time.”

It wasn’t profound, and yet, for me at that time it was deeply needed. I’ve gone back to that message many times in my life. What God said once, he reaffirms again and again as I yearn for his leading in all sorts of circumstances. Something else I learned in that experience is that God speaks when he knows we want to hear. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

Hearing God’s voice happens when we ask him to speak! When we set our hearts on wanting his will and when we put our time and energy into looking for his answers and listening for his voice, he responds.

Like anything else, hearing God’s voice is something that we grow into. As we get to know God better, we learn what it feels like to hear his voice. As we get to know his character, his history with his people, and his Word given to us in the Bible-as we fall more and more in step with God in a daily way–we become increasingly able to hear him when he speaks through his Spirit. Sometimes there are shortcuts and God chooses to speak clearly to those who have never known him, but it’s much more common for God to reveal himself increasingly to us as we grow in relationship.

A word on laying out a fleece: We talked last post about Gideon and how he literally laid out a piece of fleece at night to test God’s leading. If God made the fleece wet, it meant God was affirming his earlier word to Gideon. If God did not wet the fleece, then Gideon would assume he’d misheard God. While Gideon is a model for us in many ways, this area of laying fleeces and testing God through randomly chosen instructions can be dangerous.

When Satan tested Jesus in the wilderness and encouraged him to throw himself off the highest point of the temple, Jesus responded, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Matthew 4:7) God is abundantly capable of ensuring that we hear his voice. We can trust him to confirm in the ways he chooses rather than devising our own tests and demanding that he cooperate.

Finally, as is always necessary when  we seek to hear anyone, we need to quiet our lives in regular ways if we want to give God space to speak. Slowing down our pace and turning off the noise are two essentials in ordering our lives so that we can hear God’s voice. {Find more on ways to seek quiet with God in a post on Centering Prayer and one on Meditative Prayer.}

Hearing God’s voice … listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. If it feels like uncharted territory for you, or if you’re in a rut and have stopped listening as closely, let’s join together in community, across the internet waves and the miles, and begin afresh to follow after God’s voice. Yes, everyone can expect to hear God’s voice. He loves us. He is the Word and he gives ears to hear.

Can you recall a time the Holy Spirit spoke to you? In what way are you listening at this place in your life for his voice? If you can share here, your experiences will encourage others.

If you’d like to read more on hearing God’s voice, see this excellent magazine article (http://www NULL.charismamag NULL.com/site-archives/554-charisma-channels/spriritled-living/6642-did-god-say-that-fine-tune-your-ability-to-hear-god) written by an author who has written a book on hearing God and whose ministry focuses on this topic.

Come back again and let’s talk about Willard’s third “light,” hearing God through his voice in Scripture. All three are vital, and you won’t want to miss what Willard has to say about this last one.

{In case you were wondering how God moved me off that piano bench and into a new job, the short version is that within a few months I was hired at World Vision for a writing job that offered much variety and focused more on people than on animals. I look back on that position as a richly shaping and life-giving period. God did work his will in better ways than I ever could have. I will always be grateful.}

[Thank you to Flickr/estimmel for the use of your photo!]

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