Listening for God is an important life skill. In scripture, Jesus says that his sheep know the voice of their shepherd. They are familiar with his voice and respond to his call. So how well are we listening for God’s voice?
Here are several ways to become more attuned to God's voice:
God spoke directly to Samuel, but Samuel was still uncertain about who was really talking to him. Samuel awoke in the night confused and thought Eli was calling for him. Samuel kept going back to Eli’s room until it was clear to Eli that it was God who was trying to get Samuel’s attention. Eli taught Samuel how to respond to God’s voice: “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” We might phrase it, “Tell me your will Lord, I am tuned in to what you have to say to me, and I am ready to listen and obey.” Listening begins with a heart ready to receive God’s instructions and respond with obedience.
God may not speak audibly to us like he did with Samuel, but he still speaks to us in many ways if we are attentively listening for his voice. We live in a noisy culture that often speaks in ways contrary to God’s voice. It can be difficult to hear God if we are more in tune with the values of this world. We may need to quiet voices of selfishness, busyness, and materialism to be able to fully hear God’s voice speaking into our lives.
The Bible is the story of God and his people. God is the main character throughout, and he shows us who he is, who we are, and how we fit into his world, In scripture, God speaks and we come to understand his salvation and purpose for us. We are blessed when we look to the scriptures for our source of truth and seek godly direction. God's voice is consistent, and his voice today does not contradict what he has shown us in his Word--if you want to know what God says, it starts with scripture. As we listen for God’s voice in his Word, we will be more in tune with his leading in our lives.
"The heavens declare the glory of the Lord," and God speaks through his creation, giving testimony to his majesty. In the faithful rhythm of the seasons, the grandeur of a scenic vista, or the intricacies of God’s creatures; we are continually redirected back to our creator who made all these things. Creation reminds us of how big and awesome our God really is. And with the Psalmist, we marvel at how such a big God is yet mindful of us.
The Spirit equips us with gifts and passions for us to use for service in God’s kingdom. The passions that God has placed within us can help guide us to the work that God is calling us to do. The Spirit helps to make the scriptures clear to us and remind us of God’s teaching.
God speaks to us through life situations, doors that open and close in our lives. We may have an idea of where we feel God is leading and then discover a closed door in one direction and opportunities opening in others--directions that we had not considered.
One way to test God's leading is to ask others. Study God's Word with others. Ask godly people for advice. Being a Christian and listening for God's voice are things done in community. Do they see what you do in scripture? Do they agree that you are gifted for a particular direction or calling?
Spending regular quality time in God’s presence will help us to get familiar with his voice. Prayer is not about listing all your requests of what you want God to do, but also listening for what God wants you to do. Then you can check what you heard against God's Word and in community with other believers.
How are you experiencing God’s leading in your life? Are you listening attentively for God’s voice?
Rev. Joel Vande Werken
Rev. Joel Vande Werken