Listening to the voice of God during the Envisioning Process in 2019
Years ago I was teaching Religious Education in the local primary school. At the start of each class I would ask the children if they had any questions from last week or anything that came out of their discussion with their parents – I encouraged them to let their parents know what I had taught them in class. One child asked “Does God really speak to people today?” I gave it a 2-3 second thought about how best to answer the question, given it was a grade 5 class and suddenly my phone rang (yes, I had neglected to put it on silent). I answered it saying – “Hello God, what’s up?” The class was stunned for a few seconds as I carried on a conversation with Maz, who was calling to ask if I would pick up some milk. I ended the call by saying “Sure, I can do that”. I very quickly explained that the call came from my wife, and that it was not God at all, but I am pretty sure I know what the kids told their parents when they went home that night!
My starting point is this – God is a ‘communicating’ God and God has designed us to listen to God and to respond to God’s voice. So what does the Bible teach us about how we do that? I have a more detailed outline of a Biblical process of listening to the Voice of God (see here) so the following is a starts with that detailed outline in mind and focuses first on what Jesus says about listening to His voice and then offers some practical steps in the process of listening to the voice of God today.
John 10: Jesus, the Good Shepherd of the sheep, speaks and his sheep listen
John 16:12-15: The Spirit of Jesus will help believers understand Truth
John 17:20 – Believers are remain connected to the one who speaks
Some suggested steps:
1. Have a seeking Heart – a hunger for God.
“You God are my God, earnestly I seek you. I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water” (Ps 63:1)
2. The Bible ought to be the start and final authority as you listen to God (Acts 17:11)
3. Recognise the potential of three VOICES – Yours, the Devil’s and God’s –
Distinguishing between the Spirits is a Spiritual Gift and it is given by God to whomever God chooses to help the church distinguish the voice of God, especially in respect to people in difficulty or ‘conflicted’ in a specific time.
Nevertheless, general discernment between hearing the voice of God and the voice of the evil one sits within every believer (John 10:14,27) and a key way we are able to distinguish the two is found in Scripture – ‘Scripture interprets scripture’. Likewise, Scripture does not contradict itself.
4. What might obeying the ‘voice’ look like –
Will it result in spiritual fruit that is consistent with basic Scriptural teaching? IF not – maybe its not the voice of God
5. Your ‘waiting on the LORD’ may be targeted or open.
Targeted – reflect on scripture or a particular issue and seek to listen to God
Open – go away on a retreat or spend lengthy part of the day in prayer and fasting reading the word of God and reflecting on what God has been doing and see and hear what God asks of you or speaks to you