Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Spiritual Breakthrough - The Power of Listening Prayer

http://vimeo.com/20741551   Check out this link on the subject of listening prayer

As most of us know, talking to God is one thing but listening is something entirely different. It has been noted that “in Western culture listening has never been a prized pursuit, the way, for example, teaching or preaching has been." There will likely never be any awards handed out for the “The Greatest Listener.” However, one of the most important qualities that we need more in our relationships is the ability to not just to hear, but to listen - a fundamental human need! 

However, the challenge of this is that someone has to stop and listen!

We have become so accustomed to the noise in our lives that we’ve learned to accept it and in doing so we have hampered our ability to hear His voice.

You may be sitting here and you have that ache, that longing for God’s presence, but I want you to know even more than you want it; He wants you to know HIM!

Can  you say that you have heard God’s voice?

Was it audible, an impression on your mind, a divine nudge?

I believe that God wants to have a real two-way relationship with each and every one of His children.

Many godly people through history spoke of God’s personal communication to them.  Jesus, in his revelation to John said, “Let him who has ears hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”  Brother Lawrence talked about, “a continual conversation with God.”  A W Tozer stated, ‘God is speaking, and doing so in every facet of the human experience’.  Bill Bright called it, “Spiritual Breathing.”  In a recent book, Bill Hybels calls this listening to the, “Whispers of God.”  Charles Stanley in his book, “Hearing from God  refers to, “Impressions upon my spirit or mind.”  Watchman Nee writes about, “The light of God’s revelation.”  

A.W. Tozer said this: “The Bible will never become a living Book to us until we are convinced that God is articulate in His universe. To jump from a dead, impersonal world to a dogmatic Bible is too much for most people.” Such a person “is the victim of a divided psychology. He tries to think of God as mute everywhere else and vocal only in a book.”

Our ability to hear God is not only conditioned by our culture but also by our view of God’s nature. For example, do we believe that God speaks in the present, or do we believe that God’s voice is solely bound to the past between the covers of our Bible?  The answer to this question may provide an important starting point in discerning how we seek to listen to God.

We are going to look at three different layers to listening to God’s voice as they come to us through non-verbal communication, the Written Word and His spoken voice and we will start with the posture that leads us in all three areas of listening to His voice.

A Posture for listening…

1 Samuel 3:1 The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.

I believe today that is changing as we move closer and closer to His return.  I have heard more people share about visions of Jesus in fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel 2.  We have heard more and more people from other world religions testifying to hearing God’s voice.

10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

  Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

The posture for listening is the expectation that God wants to speak!

David expected God to speak to him when he asked in Psalm 139 – search me and try me and see if there be any wicked way?

The expectation to sense God’s voice comes as we are bold enough to ask the question.

If we are too busy to ask, chances are we are not going to hear with the clarity that He wants to bring in our lives’

So, I challenge you…ask the question!

God is there someone here that you want me to speak to?  God, what do you want me to say to that person?
God is there something that You want me to know?

Layers of Listening

1.      Non-verbal communication

Scripture is pretty clear on portraying a God who longs to communicate with us.  In Psalm 29, we see that the whole world is filled with God’s voice and that He speaks to us through His creation.  The gospel of John puts it this way,  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  It is God’s nature to speak.

In Psalm 32:8,9 it says, “The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you.  Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”  

What do you have to do with a horse to steer it in the right direction.  It takes a gentle tug on the reign unless the horse is unruly and senseless.  I call those God ordained wake up calls when He really has to buckle down on us.

And in these verses, God is saying, “I want to guide you along the best pathway for your life. 

Non-verbal communication speaks to how God works in our lives through divine nudges, promptings of His Holy Spirit, the peace of God that rules in our heart

So, how do we test those divine nudges, visions, dreams or when God speaks to us through nature?

It takes us to our next layer of communication and that is

2.      Written Communication

The Word of God

God wrote a book.  It’s a best seller.  And the place to start when you need to know the direction God wants you to go in life is to pick it up and get to know him. 

After all, if you want to know what somebody really thinks about something, what you really want to check out is what they have written on the subject.  The apostle Paul says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  2 Timothy 3:16,17

The Lord spoke in the Bible and he revealed his will there for all time.  When I was in Bible College and Seminary, I am very grateful for the professors who taught me the importance of doing careful Bible study with good principles of interpretation as we have done with our recent course on How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth.

We need to remember that God does not change his character.  He does not speak right NOW in a way that is out of keeping with the way he spoke back THEN.

God is not going to tell you something that contradicts His Word. 

God does not change.  Hebrews 3:13 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Do you know the Scriptures?  Do you read them?  Have you read the Bible through?  Getting to know God and hear his voice means that you become familiar with the book that he wrote. 

Now, some people will say that all we need is the Bible.  At one point, I would say that I was pretty satisfied with non-verbal and written communication.  And I have heard some people basically say, “God only spoke back in Bible times.  And since God does not change… I don’t need to hear his voice today.” 

Now, if you think about that… just on a logical basis… it can’t be true.  If God revealed himself to people in the Bible who then wrote down what God revealed… and if God does not change… then we would expect that God would continue to be a God who reveals himself to people today.  Right?  I mean, the only way God would NOT reveal himself today is if he has changed.  And if God has changed… then what confidence do we have that the Bible still reveals God? 

1.      God revealed himself in the past as a God who personally speaks to people.

2.      God does not change.  Hebrews 3:13 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  And so our CONCLUSION is…

3.      God must still personally speak to people.

Now, you might be wondering, “How did I know that I was hearing the Lord’s voice and not the voice of – say – the enemy?”  Well, by this time... I knew the written communication quite well.  I knew that there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ.  So if I felt just a general feeling of guilt and condemnation… I could be confident that was NOT the Lord speaking.  But if I felt convicted yet loved… if only one sin was mentioned at a time…then I would confess them one at a time and receive joy. 

With thanks to Steve Kerr

3.      Spoken Communication

God speaks.  When I say “spoken communication” I am not talking about audible speaking.  I have never heard God’s voice with my ears.  I know people who have and I don’t have a problem with that.  But in my experience, the Lord does not speak audibly to me.  He speaks directly to my mind and heart.  And it’s not a voice I hear in my head.  He brings thoughts to my mind and – over time – I have developed a sense in my spirit that they are his thoughts.  They ‘light’ up on my mind as spontaneous thoughts as best described by Mark Virkler.  The first response I find myself in is to prayer

I have challenged us in the past about four keys to hearing God’s voice in an even more intimate way than I was hearing…

1.      Withdraw and Wait: Be still and know that I am God” the Bible says.  Jesus tells us to go into our private closet and pray.  Psalm 46:10
2.      Watch:   Fix the eyes of our heart and mind on Christ.  Get a vision of Christ in your mind.  Hebrews 12:2  We learn to picture ourselves in His presence.
3.      Be Willing.  Let the Lord speak.  Like Samuel, say “Lord, speak for your servant is willing to listen and obey.”  John 10 – We have to ask the questions
4.      Write.  In my case, I started journaling in a notebook and today I have a little notebook computer in the corner of our living room  where I do my Bible reading and I write out my prayers.  Habbakuk 2

These thoughts come from a name that He has laid on our heart to actual words and affirmations that He has for us.  There have been a group of 12 of us who have been learning to hear God’s voice and they have given me permission to share how they are discovering His voice!

Remember when I was asleep in the boat during the storm? I knew that the storm was coming yet i slept. You remember the power of a storm when you're sailing on a lake!
Remember, My power is greater - then you will rest & not fear during the storms in your life. Even when you don't feel Me remember this: I love you. I care for you. I have the power in all situations. Even when life doesn't make sense TRUST Me! Know My Father's love toward you.  Things don't  always seem reasonable from your perspective. When I stood on the shore & told professional fishermen where to put their nets, they didn't get all proud & say 'we know what we're doing .
You're only a carpenter' . They listened & obeyed. This is what I want you to do. Keep your inner eyes on Me, trusting My love, wisdom & power. Trust & obey ME - not your own logic. Pas every thought & plan by Me. Let Me fill the center of your being, displacing the worry you so often indulge in. I have said ' when you week Me you will find Me & find rest for your soul.

My response was (if you need it) Thank you Lord that You told the stories of real events when You were on earth. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit  that uses these to teach me. Abba, help me .


I used to say I so wanted to hear God's big booming voice over all the clutter and distractions "Diane, this is my way, walk in it".    As I progressed on my faith journey with My Lord, I learned I needed to draw near and make choices.... For me I am deeply impacted by music and lyrics- the words....I choose to have Christian music on in my car, at home, everywhere possible because God speaks to me through them or a message.   I choose to read and study the bible because God speaks to me through these.....I have learned ... If I am hearing something for the third time....God is saying is this loud enough!!!!!
As I  pray through the day I know He is with me, that He becomes clear as I disappear, that I will praise Him in this storm, that healing comes through the tears....
As our small group has worked on journeling...this one area I'm not real good at.....first, I think in point form....and in one of our first journeling times....God is so cool!....he spoke to my mind...in point form!  
I admire those in our group who have such wonderful words and paragraphs woven together I love to hear them share....I also love that God made me just the way I am and he gives me just what I need...just enough light or words for the step I'm on.  I just need to be intentional to be still myself and be willing to ask God, and be willing to be quiet and willing to listen.
I'm going to talk about my question "How do You see me?"...God showed me a a mirror which was prefect and whole..  That's how He sees me.(my reflection was perfect)  He sees me for what I am. But when I see the mirror it's dirty and cracked. That's normal to me (Out of shaped, hazy, and a little distorted).  As I  go through life I  look at the  mirror and see my life - some are good days and some days they are bad. 
God wants me to remind myself that I am perfect in His eyes.  And that's what matters.   I know what the mirror can represent and I will strive towards that.   One day We can both stand in front of this mirror and see each other for who we really are.

1 Corinthians 13:12
The Message (MSG)
 12We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

The Takeaway

Prayer was always meant to be a two-way conversation!  He speaks and I obey. 

The power of listening to the voice of God comes as He calls me to become the person I was created to be and I change to become just that!

We’re not asking for times and dates…this is not a glass ball.  We are simply just giving God the floor!  We are affirming that He has the freedom to speak in our lives.  


Anonymous said...

A blessing.

Anonymous said...

A blessing. Thank you.