One of the defining characteristics of the Christian faith is our belief in a loving God who desires to have a relationship with us. From the moment of our creation on, God laid the foundation for this type of intimate relationship by His very first actions toward us.
They were not the actions of a cold and distant God, who set things in motion and then stepped away, but of a close and personal God who created and then came near.
Come with me to Genesis 1 to see for yourself…
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them… Genesis 1:27-28 (emphasis mine)
Immediately after creating us, God came near to us. Near enough that we could hear Him speak, learn His voice. Take a look at verse 28 again: God blessed them. And God said to them.
In the Beginning God Spoke
Since the very beginning, God’s blessing of us has been made manifest through His speaking to us. Mankind was only moments out of the dust of the Earth when our creator began establishing the nature of our relationship with Him.
He would relate to us, seek relationship with us, guide us, direct us and care for us, through speaking to us.
But how often do we neglect this reality? How often do we fail to listen or respond to this God who speaks? Do we even believe that He speaks to us at all?
Maybe your first instinct is to default to the “religiously correct” answer and say, “Yes! Of course I believe that God speaks.” Maybe you’ve even got some serious Bible skills and can quote a verse or two to prove it…
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…Hebrews 1:1-2
For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. Psalm 33:9 (emphasis mine)
Indeed, God has spoken. But what I’m concerned about here is not so much your belief in the fact that at one time, “long ago,” God “spoke,” but if you believe that God present-tense SPEAKS to you. Now.
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Does He personally and presently speak?
And maybe that question requires a bit more gut-level honesty from all of us, so let me ask it again. Do you believe that God speaks to YOU right now?
I wish I could pull up a chair and sit across from you a bit. I wish I could see your face and hear your story, listen to where you are and where you’ve been and how you have perceived God to be active (or inactive) in and through all of it.
I know that as life goes on we all fall and fail and get busted up something fierce. I also know that in the midst of all the trials and troubles and heartbreak of living we sometimes begin to believe the lie that God is far-off, distant, unconcerned or silent. But that is so far from the truth.
God is speaking. To us. Right now.
If you’re having trouble discerning His voice, here are some things you can do to put yourself in the position to hear.
The primary way in which God speaks to us now is through His written word.
Friends, if you are not reading your Bible, you are not putting yourself in the position to hear His voice. Knowing God’s word is a crucial component to hearing God speak.
I know Bible study can be intimidating, and I know that it can be difficult to know where and how to start (check out our free Scripture reading plan HERE), but there is absolutely no substitute for our individual study of God’s word.
No matter what your level of education, intellectual ability, cultural background, or religious pedigree (or lack thereof) - you can understand God’s word. He has specifically designed it as such. His word is the means through which He has chosen to make Himself known to us.
Meditate on it.
Come to know the God of the Bible. He will speak to you through its pages.
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work”
2 Timothy 3:16-17
As you read, posture yourself to better hear God speak by following these reading tips:
1. Read with humility.
The one thing that opens our ears to hear God speak more than anything else is a posture of humility. We humble ourselves in submission under the authority of God’s word as we read the Bible, not lord ourselves over it. We allow His word to speak into our lives as it is, not demand that it change to fit the cultural norms of our day, or our own needs and desires. By all means, be thoughtful, inquisitive, and teachable as you read - and there is most certainly a correct way to ask questions and wrestle with understanding, but in all this, you must not be arrogant, presumptuous, critical or even casual in the way that you approach His word.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God…
1 Peter 5:6
2. Read with diligence
Each of us is capable and able of reading and understanding God’s word, but that is not to say that it won’t require effort. The Bible is not a magic eight ball that instantly reveals to us all that we hope to know. We learn to hear God’s voice and gain insight into His will through our consistent and careful examination of Scripture. The learning curve may be steep, but there is a cumulative effect to the study of God’s word. Keep at it, patiently persist. The more you read and study the Bible, the more your understanding of it will unfold.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.
3. Read with expectation
As you read the Bible in the hopes of hearing God speak to you through His word, expect that He will do just that. Read with a readiness to hear whatever it is He wants to say to you. Read expecting Him to speak to you, teach you, comfort you, confront you, strengthen you and transform you. Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that, “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (emphasis mine). We read the Bible faithfully expecting Him to speak.
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.
4. Be Listening
You can’t hear if you don't listen. So once we’ve committed ourselves to consistently reading God’s word, we must turn our attention to listening for and listening to His voice.
Listening is a complex process that involves selecting, attending to, constructing meaning from, and even remembering a message. It is a required ingredient in the formation and maintenance of every single human relationship you have - at home, at work, with friends and family members - and it is equally required in the formation and maintenance of your relationship with God.
When God created us as relational beings, he opened up communication between us and Himself as a mutual endeavor. He talks to us, we listen to him. We talk to him, He listens to us. This is how a relationship with God works. Like anything else in life worthy of our pursuit, listening to hear God speak through His word requires time, intentionality and purpose. It requires that we lean in and tune our ears to hear Him speak.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
5. Be Praying
Hearing God speak is a spiritual endeavor. Therefore, any difficulty we have in hearing or comprehending God’s voice is much more a spiritual matter than an intellectual one.
As we open our Bibles, listening to hear God speak, we should pray over our time and efforts knowing that it is only by His grace and mercy that we may hear.
Here are a few verses you might want to pray as you prepare to hear God speak to you through His word:
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18
[Pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him…Ephesians 1:17
May your word be a “lamp to my feet and light to my path” Psalm 119:105
Lord, give me ears to hear, eyes to see and a heart to understand so that I can turn to you and be healed. Matthew 15-17
God’s word is clear that He seeks to make Himself known to us. His word speaks to us right now, right where we are, no matter where that may be. Open His word with humility, diligence and great expectation, eagerly listening to hear His voice. Pray for a willing, pliable and attentive heart so that you may hear Him speak.
"Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
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