How can you describe to someone what it is like to hear God speak to a person if they have never heard his voice? I believe God speaks to us much of the time, unfortunately we do not hear his voice because of the many distractions and troubles we have in our lives. Busyness is probably the greatest threat to western society today, and this is not a criticism of non-believers alone. Christians can be equally busy, so busy sometimes they do not hear God; I speak from personal experience of this myself.
Hearing God voice is essential to the Christian’s life. If we are not listening to God how can we follow what he says? I want to be absolutely clear on something here and that is this: reading the Bible is not listening to God, nor is listening to the message on Sunday at church; even thinking about the words in the Bible or what has been said is not listening to God. Many people have read the Bible and done a great many things, both good and evil. That does not mean that they heard from God. Hearing from God is more than mere words. We must not rely on the revelation that someone else has received, nor must we rely on someone else’s testimony. God wants to speak to us personally; he wants to perform his miraculous, life-transforming work in our lives so that we have our own testimony.
Now this does not mean there is no value in going to church or reading the Bible, these are vitally important aspects of the Christian life. Hearing God’s voice comes first from hearing his word, either spoken by someone or thought by us. Then we must allow it to rest on our mind and work its way into our hearts. We need openness, patience and preparedness.
When the God’s Word leaps out at us we need to be ready to grasped hold of it. Then it needs to be mulled over, chewed slowly, pondered upon. Too often we rush quickly onto the next thing and the Word does not stay with us. This grasping and chewing is meditation.
Meditation is not a test of the intellect. It isn’t a kind of puzzle where we are looking for clues to work out the solution. If you are a teacher studying the Bible in the preparation of a message then this kind of textual analysis may be a very worthwhile activity, but it is not a prerequisite for meditating on the Word of God. Intellectual capacity has little to do with it; our natural minds have no capacity to know how God feels or what he is thinking.
God can speak to us in an instant. One day I didn’t know God and didn’t know his voice then, in a moment, he reveal to me the truth of who he was. In a blink of an eye the course of my life was changed and I knew that something wonderful had happened. I didn’t have to work for this revelation. And God can speak to us in that way but that is not what we are talking about here.
Meditation is the deliberate act of the Christian to weigh God’s words and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the heart of God.
No-one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
I Corinthians 2:11b
Find a quiet place.
Remove distractions. If you’re a morning person like me you may have a hundred things running through your mind that you have to do today. I personally have to go straight into my time with God, because if I start my list writing beforehand I am continually distracted with thinking of more things I need to do. Find a method of removing this kind of distraction, try different things.
Write down what God is saying. This is so important. Have a pen and notebook handy. Sometimes I find it particularly useful to write down my thoughts as God is speaking to me. I will read a passage of the bible with my pen and notepad in hand and begin to write what God reveals.
A few years ago my wife’s sister asked what I wanted for my birthday. All I wanted was a stack of notes books so that is what she got me, and I use these to record what God is saying, people and things I am praying for, visions and dreams, key events in my life and so on.
If you don’t speak with someone on a regular basis it’s hard to develop relationship. Most relationship fail because of a lack of communication. People can grow apart. It’s no surprise then that the same is true of God. Not speaking with him and taking the time to listen with create a gap in your relationship with him. Conversely, making time regularly for God will bring you into closer relationship with him and there is nothing so wonderful as being close to God. Make him your priority every day.
Have a plan and stick to it, which for me is easier said than done. Don’t flit or rush. by all means take time to read large passages of the bible. Pick a verse of passage and stay with it. It’s very easy to have too many inputs at once. I have various websites that I read, daily notes, bible passages that I have started, Sunday sermon notes that I’ve yet to re-read. Before I know it I am jumping from one thing to the next and not spending any quality time with God. I have to make a real effort to slow myself down and focus on just one thing.
Don’t be legalistic – don’t feel condemned if you miss a day. Daily readings notes that are tied to specific calendar dates can be good for some, but I do not find them helpful myself as I feel obliged to try and stay with the date written on the page (which I rarely manage to do.) Reading plans are better. Tips: Whatever plan you are following do not do catch-up and ignore the date written on the top of the page. When you feel that you have gotten what you can from the reading mark the page off (if using printed notes) or move onto the next reading on your computer or website. As we grow in our faith and we grow closer to God we will desire to spend more regular time with him. Don’t worry if it take you a month to complete a week’s worth of readings. YouVersion has some guidelines on their daily reading plans.
Read different translations of the bible. Personally I tend to use the NIV, The Living Bible, The Message and The Amplified.
Move it action. Respond to what is being said. Question your motives, prejudices, preconceptions.
Give God your best. After all he deserves nothing less. This means not fitting God into the time available but making time for God and putting him first in our list of priorities.
We are all called to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. Some are specifically called to teach others about the word of God. Teachers will be judged more strictly which means that we had better apply God’s teaching to our own lives before trying to educate others. There is a place for academic education of the Bible but such education within a church should be complimented by Spirit led preaching from personal experience.
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
I believe that every mature believer can hear God’s voice at any time, and with support a young believer can too. If we are determined to put our own agendas to one side and seek after God with all our strength, then He does not disappoint. God is not hiding as some would suggest. “If God is real then why doesn’t he show himself.” Apart from the fact that Jesus has already shown himself (and was murdered) and the miracle of creation is all around us every day, are people really suggesting that the creator God of the universe prove his existence to his creation? The most amazing fact is that he is willing to humble himself and reveal himself to those who truly seek him!
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Barrier of Sin