In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series on The Power of Listening, I focused on listening to our spouses. "When you listen do you hear?" was the basic theme. There's so much we can practice and learn with regard to improving our couples' skills. The power of listening is the undervalued or often missing factor when couples endeavor to improve communications.
Listening to God
In my early days of seeking God, in pursuit of hearing His voice, I heard this message quite frequently, “You have two ears and one mouth!” This was my first clue as to what is most important to God...talking or listening? Think about it for a moment, do we need to tell God the minute details of our situations as if He needs to be informed? Nothing wrong with pouring out our hearts to God and expressing our feelings, as a matter of fact it can be very cleansing indeed. However...if we want to hear from God we need to stop talking!
Fifteen years ago I was blessed to take a course with internationally known speaker and author John Paul Jackson. The name of the class was The Art of Hearing God. More recently, I did a DVD facilitated study of a similar topic, How to Hear God's Voice by Mark and Patti Virkler. Listening to God is probably the number one pursuit of my life. It makes sense; my career as a professional counselor is truly that of being a professional listener. So, yes, listening means a lot to me. I honestly can say I have a long way to go, but it's a discipline I'm very committed to.
God Is Always Speaking to Us
God is always speaking to His sons and daughters and He has many ways to do so. Sometimes He speaks something personal through a sermon or book, through Bible study or devotional reading, or through articles written by bloggers or published authors. He also speaks through friends, spouses, and strangers. Today I'd like to address how He speaks personally to us through our quiet time with Him.
In John 10:10 Jesus says, "My sheep hear my voice." There are no qualifications there, are there? If you're one of His sheep, you are qualified to hear His voice. Sometimes people think that listening to God and hearing His voice are for "professional" Christians, ie., pastors, evangelists, prophets, and counselors. But this verse really kicks any doubts about hearing from God ourselves to the curb.
Here's another verse I love about hearing from God personally:
“Jesus answered them, ‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not be granted’” (Matt. 13:11 NASB).
Amazing! It has been given to us to know the mysteries of heaven. So then why do so many of Jesus' followers feel frustrated because they don’t believe they’re hearing from God regarding personal matters? This often has something to do with a lack of faith – we don’t really believe we’re important enough to God for Him to answer us.
Jesus says in Matthew 11:25 “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children..." (NIV)
Jesus is acknowledging that there are hidden mysteries and secrets that are revealed to His children. You only need to be a babe to have mysteries revealed to you.
It's the Father's pleasure and desire to reveal to us how the kingdom works, how His Kingdom works. <<Tweet This
We have to understand God's nature and how He feels about us to become confident that He truly wants to speak to us. That kind of confidence produces the awareness that it's not my ability or inability to hear God's voice that counts. It's His ability to speak and make Himself heard.
Some Practical Direction on How You Can Hear from God
1. Start to take some time each day to hear from God. <<Tweet This
You could begin with 10 minutes where you set yourself aside to hear. Make sure all devices are turned off and muted. When I started this years ago, I would take my home phone off the hook. I'm very easily distracted and noises can become my focus instead of The Lord. If you have a very young family and/or a busy household, you can ask The Lord for Grace to show you where you can find 10 quiet minutes. I know you won't be surprised that He can do just that. After all, one of the names for the Holy Spirit is the helper (paracletos or "one called alongside to help"). He's actually very good at it! After all...it's His job description.
2. Focus on a verse or sing to The Lord Using iPhones, iPods, and earphones can be extremely helpful or do some breathing exercises to get yourself in a good place. I may do one or all of the above to quiet my soul within me so I can sit peacefully and wait on The Lord. Then just sit and listen. Don't worry if you don't hear anything during the 10 minutes. I frequently don't, but then when I move on to reading the Word or some other discipline, like memorizing scripture or doing devotional reading, I "hear" more sharply. Sometimes I hear an hour later or even two weeks later. God is THE listener. He's listening and He will speak. Some of you who haven't practiced listening before are about to embark on a very exciting and revelatory adventure with The Lord!
Let me know in the comments how your journey progresses.
Next month I'll give more tips and techniques for listening to God. This may be the single most important journey of your life. I know it was for me.
I have a few resources below. Note the third one is for kids to develop the ability to listen to God. I bought this for my daughter and we had a lot of fun with it many years ago.
How to Listen to God by Dr. Charles F. Stanley
Can You Hear Me? Tuning Into the God Who Speaks by Brad Jersak
Children Can You Hear Me? How to Hear and See God by Brad Jersak
Susanne Ciancio, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Christian Counselor. She has been serving the Christian community as a professional Christian counselor in Essex county and the surrounding area since 1986. Beyond her private practice in West Orange, NJ she is involved in teaching, consulting, and pastoral supervision in various churches in the area. Click here for Susanne's website.
EDITORS NOTE: While Susanne can’t answer specific counseling-related questions, she welcomes your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about what kinds of topics you’d like to see addressed here at Circles of Faith. Click here to contact us.