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Hearing God

I don’t know why (it’s probably because of too much other stuff swirling in my head), but sometimes when I hear the voice of the Lord it is crystal clear and undoubtable, and other times I have to wrestle with whether it’s me or Him.  I mean, seriously, why doesn’t He just drop audible voices or angelic visitations on us regularly if He really wants us to do His will?

I believe that Jesus Himself, through Himself - the written Word of God - has given us the answer to this very question.

“And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him,
    though He bears long with them?
“I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”  - Luke 18:8

Jesus gave this teaching so

“…that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,”  - Luke 18:1

The Lord desires people who will press into Him.  Even though He may take a long time (”bears long with them”) to answer them clearly, when He does move it will be decisive and quick.  But, the real question is, will we keep praying and believing that He really will do what He said He would do (”will He really find faith on the earth”)?

“But, Aaron, you started off talking about ‘Hearing God’ and now you’re talking about ‘prayer and faith’.  Did you forget what you were typing, or do you just like taking verses out of context?”

To that, I ask you the question, “What is prayer?”

Even though we know better, most of us still think of prayer as “talking TO the Lord”, when in fact, it is “talking WITH the Lord”.  It’s the great dialogue that the Lord desired from the beginning of human history (and maybe even before that, in the heart of God).  We forget from where the power of effective prayer comes.

When we ask according to His will we get what we ask for.  Therefore, a prerequisite to asking is knowing that what we are about to ask is the will of God.  How then do we know the will of God?  It is one of the primary ministries of the Holy Spirit to take what is the Father’s and make it known to us, and to lead us into all truth.  And Jesus says that the difference between us and servants is that He tells us His business/His plans.

To be able to pray effectively, we have to be able to hear effectively.  And since we know that the job of the Holy Spirit is to reveal the will of the Father (i.e. tell us stuff), then we are left to do a lot of listening.

Although this is entirely too simplistic looking, here are the steps to hearing the Lord and seeing prayers answered:

  • Be drawn by the Spirit of God into believing that “Jesus is Lord”, acknowledging that truth by faith and confessing it with your mouth.  At that time the Holy Spirit will indwell you and begin leading you through His counsel, conviction, and comfort.
  • Ask the Lord to be clothed with power by the Holy Spirit, and He, being a good father, will give you the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who ask.
  • Study the Bible - the Word of God, so that you can learn what the Lord has said and done in the past, and what He has said for the future, so that when you do hear Him speak, you’ll have the ultimate reference by which to judge and test the words you have heard to be sure that they line-up with what we KNOW is the words of the Lord.
  • Offer yourself as a living sacrifice to God, stop being like the world, and let the Word and the Spirit renew your mind, so that you will be able to test and approve the will of God - His good, pleasing, and perfect will.  This is accomplished by the mercy of God and by His grace for fasting, prayer, and helping keep us from evil.  I believe part of the “living sacrifice” is being willing to be humiliated, too (see “Start doing!” below).
  • Start listening.
  • Practice discernment.  Use the Bible as completely authoritive to measure all words, and submit what you hear to those who are more mature in the Lord than you, so that in a multitude of counselors you can gain wisdom into whether your discernment is accurate or not.
  • Start doing!  Do not be a hearer of the word only.  This doesn’t apply only to hearing a man teach scripture, this applies to stepping out of the boat, and having a faith accompanied by works, and giving the Lord opportunities to work miraculously in and through your life.  If your actions have lined up with scriptures, have been affirmed by mature believers, and you still don’t see anything happen, then either (a) the Lord is working humility in you, (b) the Lord is working patience in you and wants you to be persistent like the widow in Luke 18 and the neighbour in Luke 11, (c) it requires more fasting [Matthew 17], (d) there’s some variable we just aren’t aware of - and you can take it as (a), or (e) you missed it.  Big Deal!  If it lined up with the Word, just keep on keeping on.

With the exception of angelic visitations and audible voices, you’ll never know that you are hearing the voice of the Lord if you don’t start studying scriptures, practicing discernment, and seeing if the Lord will be faithful in what He’s telling you about.  So, go for it!

Note: I’m going to come back and edit this later with exact scripture references for every scripture I used later - my daughter is sitting here praying that the Lord will help me finish quickly so that she can go to the store with me before this evening’s service.  :)  I’ve got to partner with the Lord on this one so her faith will increase.  :)

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