When was the last time you heard from God in a fresh way? Do you seek Him throughout the day, longing to hear from Him, and do you feel like He is giving you clear direction? Or has your relationship with Him become stale, your Bible reading unexciting, and your prayer life rather dry?
           If your walk with God isn’t vibrant and you’ve stopped sensing His presence, maybe it’s because you’ve stopped listening to Him (or maybe you never really started listening in the first place). “But I read my Bible,” you say. “He speaks to us through His Word, doesn’t He?” Absolutely. In fact, it’s the primary way in which He speaks to us. But it’s still very possible to read the Scriptures and not experience the depth of what God desires to communicate to us.
           Don’t despair – there are ways to hear God better. But first, let me explain what I mean when I say we can miss God’s voice… And let me share with you some changes I made in my own personal life which have completely transformed the way I relate to my Heavenly Father. These changes took my relationship with Him from lukewarm to a place where I literally can’t wait to spend time with Him each day. Having been a believer for over 20 years, I think I understand for the first time what it means to be truly in love with Jesus! And it’s all because I finally started hearing His voice. Mind you, it’s not that He was quiet before – God was speaking all along – it was me that wasn’t listening.
           Before, what I used to do, was that I’d dutifully say a short prayer and do my Bible reading in the morning – not so much because I longed to hear from God but more as a way of clearing my conscience. When prayer and a quick time in the Word were off my mental check list, I felt, I suppose, like I was being a good Christian. Naturally, I didn’t experience much spiritual growth during that time, and I felt as if God was very distant.
           But over a period of weeks and months, as I was going through some trials in my personal life and became desperate for direction, God showed me a new way of seeking Him. Most importantly, He showed me how to listen. He showed me how to come before Him in Spirit-filled prayer, with a humble heart, not asking for anything, not rushing before His throne with a long list of requests, wants, and perceived needs, but with wide open ears, just ready to listen… Listen to whatever He wanted to say to me.
           My living room sofa at night, about an hour or so before bedtime, became my private little sanctuary. It became the sacred time and place where I’d seek God every day. (I still do!) And oh how I look forward to this time with Him! It is just so incredibly sweet, so filled with peace and joy… I dim the lights, lie down, close my eyes, and quietly enter His presence. I always start by thanking Him. I look back on my day and thank God for every little blessing, anything I can think of, big or small… The more I count my blessings, the more of them I discover, and sometimes I don’t even get beyond giving thanks as I fall asleep with a smile on my face, relishing in the goodness of my Savior.
           Even if I fall asleep like this, I’ve done something very important: I’ve taken a posture of humility before my Father and opened myself to receive instruction from Him. And His instruction may come at any time during the day or night. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, hearing God speak loudly to me in my conscience. Other times, when I get up the next morning after spending an extended period of time in prayer the night before, some spiritual truth will all of a sudden hit me… It’s not for me to say when or where God is to speak to me, but speak He does!
           But, again, it always starts – at least for me – with thanksgiving. You see, when I come before Him with a heart filled with gratitude, what I do is I acknowledge who I am in relation to Him – merely a creature; an undeserving sinner. He, on the other hand, is beautiful, gracious, faithful, just, loving, and holy – the all-knowing, all-good, all-wise Creator of heaven and earth. Everything He does is good, and although I deserve nothing, He has given me so, so much. By humbling myself this way, agreeing to see myself the way He sees me, I open myself up to receive instruction from Him – because “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).
           If I come with pride in my heart, I’m never going to recognize my spiritual need. I’m not going to be receptive to God’s guidance, correction, or rebuke. If I approach Him with an attitude of humility, on the other hand, I’ll be teachable. And if I’m teachable, He’ll speak to me, and when He does, I won’t reject His voice.
           Of course, God does not speak in a random, confusing, or mystical manner. Nothing He ever says to our hearts through the Holy Spirit will contradict what He has said in the Bible. Our minds need to be properly informed by His infallible Word if we are to know whether it’s really God who is prompting us. That being said, when you are in the Word, the Word will be in you… You’ll know the truth instinctively when facing various situations in life, and you’ll often find yourself mind-blown at how God will speak to you at the most unexpected times – often as clearly as if He were standing right next to you.
           More on that later…