14 Nov Listening for God Takes Time
During the sermon this past Sunday, I (Jim) was talking about silent prayer. Within that, I talked about how God speaks and how important it is that we listen for God’s voice. As I then talked about how we can know it is God speaking to us, I forgot one of my points. I had three words written down on my paper; test, time and trial.
I knew that ‘test’ meant that we were to test what we felt we heard from God by what we know and see in the Bible (Does this word I heard from God fit within what is said in the Bible and what I know of God’s character from the Bible?) and also to ask others we trust in our family and community of faith how what we’ve heard sounds to them and what they know of God. One author, Brad Jersak, also suggests that we ask God if that was Him who spoke rather than our own thoughts or a deceptive spirit. For example, if we felt like we heard God say to us something like, “This person is bitter towards you for this thing that you did and you need to admit your mistake to them,” we can then ask something like “Is this really you Lord Jesus?” As God cares about us hearing Him clearly so we can know and follow Him well, He will often answer a question this direct. “When in doubt, just ask (Jersak, Can You Hear Me?).”
I also knew that “trial” meant that, to a certain degree, we’ll never know if it was God speaking to us unless we are to pursue or do what we think we’ve heard from Him. This is most easily done in smaller things like “talk to so and so” or “give some money to this cause”. The larger things in life such as “sell all your possessions and move to such and such a place” would definitely need more testing, prayer, discussion as well as time. I would say.
But I couldn’t remember what I meant when I wrote down ‘time”. One of the drawbacks of my preaching style is that, while there is a plan in place, I am mostly working off of teaching points and haven’t always refined what I am actually going to say during each point. This sometimes leads to moments like this past Sunday when I simply forget what I had wanted to say. I still feel that this is outweighed by the benefits of the style which can help to keep the sermon from feeling too polished and can keep things feeling more like a conversation and have a high level of authenticity and candidness. But that is a bit of an aside…
I said on Sunday that I would write something about ‘time’ once I felt I had figured out what I intended to say. Here’s what I figured out…
Listening for God takes time. It is something that requires an investment of time on our part. Similar to the idea of waiting on God within the sometimes elusive nature of God, to listen for the specific voice of God in our lives and circumstances can take time. This means we shouldn’t be discouraged if we do not always hear clearly or if hearing can sometimes take awhile. I think God wants us to seek after Him with all we are. But we can also trust that He will not remain elusive and difficult to find. He desires to be known.
Listening for God also takes time in the sense that it takes practice. It takes time to get used to hearing the voice of God and identifying it as God. Just as it can take awhile to first identify someone’s voice over the phone (if you remember talking on the phone!), after you have talked with them several times, it can be very easy to identify who is on the other end of the line after just a few or even one word. As we get used to hearing God, it takes us less time to identify that it is actually Him talking to us. His words will sound familiar, His way of speaking consistent. The more we take time to listen for His voice, the more easily we will hear Him and identify His words as His own.
I hope this helps. Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment below or engage with us on our Facebook page or even chat with us via email or in person.