This month I'm continuing to write about listening to God. Last month, I focused on some of the ways God speaks to us and shared a strategy for listening to Him.
God wants to talk to you.
The supreme, sovereign King of the Universe longs to have an intimate relationship with you and me. INTIMATE...not just rule-following, church-going, service-oriented Christianity, but intimate relationship! That kind of relationship includes dialogue! Where there is no conversation...there is no intimacy. Above all God is a relational being. He exists in a Trinity or family of beings: three in one! The "Eternal One" is actually an Eternal trio.
So how does this intimacy with God work?
God has many names, such as Creator, Healer, Omniscient-Omnipresent-Omnipotent One, and Ruler of the Universe to name just a very few. But above all He is a Father and He is the perfect Father! He longs to give us guidance and direction, which requires speaking to us in some form.
Though, sadly, not all fathers give wise guidance or any guidance at all to their offspring, we have to assume that God is a little better if not much better at guiding than the best father we've ever known whether ours or someone else's. Sometimes we get so caught up living our lives and carrying out our daily routines (including devotional reading, church-going, and service) that we forget to just commune with our Heavenly Father.
In the words of the old classic song by Larnelle Harris, I Miss My Time With You, The Lord is depicted as waiting for His son to set time apart to be with Him, but the son is too busy serving God. The lyric goes on to say how God misses these precious moments together with His child.
How can you hear from God when your spirit is empty, when you haven’t taken the time to spend with Him? <<Click to Tweet
An important thing to establish in our hearts and minds is that this is not a performance-based relationship. Every single one of God's children can hear from God! It's not about our ability to hear, but the Father's ability and willingness to speak.
The Divine Almighty Creator of the universe wants to speak to you and me about the big and small things of life.
Why don't I hear from God?
Perhaps we are asking the question, “If God is both willing and able to speak, why don't I seem to hear from Him?”
Here are two things to consider in our pursuit of hearing from God:
1. What do we believe about God?
What do we think He's like? Do we think He has continuous lovely thoughts about us or do we think He's a judge waiting to read us the riot act about our most recent mistakes and behavioral weaknesses? If we think He's the latter we will not really want to hear from Him. After all, do we call up parents, friends or relatives who like to go over our character flaws and weaknesses?
Knowing God's nature is essential to good spiritual and mental health. It's His Kindness that draws me to repentance (Romans 2:4) and His compassion, mercy and faithfulness that prevent me from being consumed by the worries and cares of this world (Lamentations 3:22-23). My favorite verse about God's nature is found in Exodus 34:6 where He reveals Himself. Moses exclaims:
The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,
And these are Old Covenant verses. We can seriously trust the God who reveals His character to us in such a way. Jesus is the New Covenant representation of God. We see His mercy and compassion proven in His willingness to always heal everyone who came to Him (Matthew 14:14 and 9:36).
If we sincerely want to pursue intimacy with the Living God through hearing His voice, it's essential to meditate on His True Nature. Take a few minutes each day and just meditate on Who He says He is. It won't be long before you're able to hear how He feels about you and how He sees you. (See Listening – Part 3 for specifics on Listening.) This will rock your world as it has mine.
2. Am I too busy?
Sometimes we take the urgency and angst of our busy lives right into our quiet time with God, which can prevent us from hearing from God. There's no problem with that as long as we have a strategy to deal with it. Deep breathing and meditating on the Word really help me to get into a restful state. I like to seek The Lord before the pressures of the day have a chance to occupy my mind and body. My aim is to focus on Him before email phone, newspapers, etc.
There are so many distractions to keep us from God's best, even very good things. (Don’t forget, the good robs from the best...especially God's best.) Let's remember we do have an enemy of our soul and when he recognizes that a child of God wants to draw close to their Father, all manner of interesting and devious distractions will come. They will chip away at our quiet time and keep our minds racing at top speed. To quell those feelings of urgency, keep a pad on hand to write anxious thoughts and To-Dos down so you can address them after your quiet time. This really helps!
The urgent can both tyrannize and rob you of the peace you so seek and desire!
As I always say, I'm on the learning curve with all of this. I want to be an intimate hearer of His voice and I know the way to do that is PRACTICE!! Many times I sit and listen and don't hear one word but when I get up and walk away I feel His comfort or nearness. And...sometimes the answer I was seeking comes in an unusual or unexpected way as my day goes on...or the next day or in a few weeks. But He wants a relationship with me so He will draw me in with encouragement and clues to the things I'm seeking Him about. He loves mystery and so do I!
Next month we’ll discuss questions that God loves to answer!
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.