My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27
Good conversations involves active listening. The same is true about prayer. Devoting ourselves to prayer means spending time actively listening to God.
But how do we actually hear from God?
More often than not, we don’t hear an audible voice from God that reaches our natural ears. Instead we learn to listen with our hearts. Believers have been given a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26); this is what it means to be new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Through this new heart and new spirit, we are fully equipped to hear God through His Spirit that reveals God’s very thoughts to our spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10-11; Romans 8:16). As incredible as this truth is, it is also true this is a very unfamiliar and new way of listening for many Christians.
That is why it is important to spend time learning and developing this ability to hear and listen to the Spirit.
Firstly, you must trust (there’s that word again) that as a believer you’ve been fully equipped to hear and listen to God. At the moment of salvation, God has already given you this incredible ability by exchanging your heart of stone with a tender, responsive heart (Ezekiel 36:26 NLT). Your new heart is designed to be responsive to Him. You must put your faith here first. Everything starts with faith because “without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him” (Hebrews 11:6 AMP).
Second, in order to develop this new sense and ability, you must be taking in God’s Word daily. This is how we as sheep learn what the Shepherd sounds like. We need to know the difference between God’s thoughts and other thoughts. Meditating on God’s Word day after day attunes our inner ear of the heart to the heart of the Father. Just like we all can pick out our friend’s voice, spouse’s voice, child’s voice, parent’s voice in a crowd of many other voices, we have the same ability to do that with the voice of our Shepherd. But it begins with reading God’s Word and devoting ourselves to constant communication with Him. You do not need to read giant chunks of Scripture to do this. It can be as simple as meditating on a Scripture that God brought to you through a daily Bible reading, a sermon, a Bible study, or a brother or sister in Christ.
Is there a verse of Scripture that comes to mind to meditate upon today? Take some time to remember, find, and take in this part of God’s Word now.
When you allow God’s Word to work deeper into your heart through meditation, the Spirit of God begins to open your eyes to its relevance in your life and personalizes God’s word in you.
Therefore and lastly, listening to God is not, and should not, be limited to reading and meditating on God’s Word. Jesus repeatedly instructed his disciples to “watch and pray” (Matthew 26:41, Luke 21:36). This means we need to pray with our spiritual eyes wide open. We do this by looking for patterns we see God weaving in our life based on the Word He is personalizing in our hearts.
Being in God’s Word daily, watching and praying in the Spirit are both vital in learning how to listen to God with our hearts. Having God’s Word in our minds day after day sharpens our discernment and keeps us from interpreting every random thoughts, feelings, and activities in our life as “God speaking.” Equivalently, when we prayerfully and actively watch for God’s movements in our life, we are able to catch the unfolding story of God’s work in us and around us, ensuring logic and reason does not limit God’s ministry of truth into our hearts. God’s Spirit often works and moves way beyond our human understanding.
What do you see with your spiritual eyes happening around you? We encourage you to write this down and bring it to our prayer and praise meeting on Saturday evening.
Do these activities connect with anything God has been bringing to you in His Word? Take some time to pray this Word back to God in light of what you are observing. Listen with your heart as you pray upon these things.
As you get hungry you may also feel short tempered, easily upset, angry etc. This is a great opportunity to take these feelings to God and ask Him to help you know how to deal with them.
If you fast tea or coffee you may experience headaches as your body comes of caffeine. Don’t take painkillers if you are fasting food – this can damage your stomach. Choose if you want to detox from caffeine or reintroduce it into your diet.
There is no reason for fasting to negatively affect your work or your appearance (apart from losing a few pounds). Jesus said we are to not draw attention to our self when fasting. Actually you will find that your mind becomes clearer and more alert, especially if your diet normally includes various “junk foods”.