Four friends and I sat around the dining room table for a little holiday gathering. I was waiting for the right time to pass out the necklaces I had gotten each of them as Christmas gifts. Each necklace had a delicate gold chain but a different charm. I had taken advantage of a sale and picked out these specific necklaces for my friends. Each charm was a symbol of something I felt was important to them in this season of life. I planned to explain the symbolism of the necklaces to my friends even though I didn’t know if it would mean much to them.
That evening at the table, before I passed out the gifts, I felt the sudden urge to get out my phone and look up some Bible verses to go along with the necklaces. There were many verses I could have chosen, but the right verse for each woman stood out to me and I made note of them. Despite feeling confident in the messages I was being given, I still hesitated at one of the verses. It wasn’t one that I would have chosen and it felt like a weird message for my friend. I had a quick conversation with God asking Him, “Are you sure???”. Despite my lack of understanding, I still felt it was the right verse for her so I wrote it down.
Now that I had these Bible verses to “gift” my friends, I immediately got to it. As each friend opened her box, I read the scripture associated with the symbol of the necklace. It was confirmation to me to hear that the verses and necklaces spoke to each of their hearts, including the verse I thought was a bit strange.
For my friend with the “strange” verse, I had chosen a necklace with the word “joy” stamped onto it. There are so many uplifting Bible verses that come to mind when I think about joy! However, instead I found myself giving her verses from Isaiah 58 which talk about honoring the Sabbath before you find joy in the Lord. It seemed kind of “preachy” for a Christmas gift Bible verse, which is why I had hesitated. Even though I didn’t know why I was reading my friend those verses, she knew. She explained how she had been very convicted for her family to get back into the habit of going to church regularly even though that had been a difficult journey for them. Had I gone with a generic verse that made more logical sense then perhaps she would have missed out on the confirmation that God was truly convicting her in this area.
That evening one of my friends asked me how I hear promptings from God, which birthed the idea for this article series. Like you, I am still very much a work in progress and I’m still learning. However, this series has been about sharing what has helped me become a better listener to God.
“Be still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10
Ironically enough, I’ve found that obeying that declaration to “be still” requires a whole lot of action on my part. I’m not naturally inclined to “be still”—at times my body might be motionless but my mind is still running around in circles. But that is what this whole series has been about: preparing my heart to hear from God, more practically known as being still long enough to listen. All of the steps I’ve talked about are biblical principles that I’ve found to become in tune with listening. By addressing these areas I am then able to find the strength and energy and discipline to be still.
- Is there something I’ve been convicted of but
haven’t addressed? Did God previously
tell me to do something and I didn’t?
- When I follow my convictions, they won’t continue to weigh on my mind.
- Am I holding too tightly to my plans and ideas? Am I trying to control my future?
- When I surrender my plans, I am also surrendering my worry about the future.
- Am I so caught up talking about my ideas that I’m
not even listening for God’s voice?
- When I surrender my expectations, I’m giving my daydreams about the outcome a break.
- Am I afraid that God has given, or will give, me
an undesirable assignment? Maybe I’m
therefore tuning Him out through selective hearing…?
- When I decide that I will accept the assignment God has for me, I’m humbling myself to His will.
- Have I lost confidence in what I thought I was
supposed to do? Has my inner dialogue
turned negative and hopeless? Do I get
distracted every time I try to obey?
- When I stand firm in my faith, resisting the devil, I am quieting those lies and rebuking distractions that might prevent me from moving forward in obedience.
By becoming disciplined in the areas of obedience, surrender, and acceptance I become a clean slate. My time becomes a submitted calendar. My story becomes a blank journal. The desires of my heart become His desires for me. I am still me—the goal is not to become void of personality—but I am a “me” that is focused on the glory of God and not on myself.
But why God’s glory? The Bible is literally filled with stories and references to God’s glory and His desire to be glorified. It is a recurring theme and command:
“Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:6-7
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
When I am faithfully seeking God’s glory, I am more likely to hear specific instructions from Him because I am moving in the same direction as He is. We are moving towards His glory—even if I don’t know where or what that looks like. I can catch the quiet whispers with my eagerly listening ears because I have told the competing dialogue to “be still”. He is God. Not me, not my ambitions, not my fears.
So, Friend, there you have it. My secret to hearing from God. The process to prepare my heart never ceases—it is a continual cycle of obedience, surrender, acceptance, and faith. Sometimes I work up the will-power to surrender something and then an hour later have to re-surrender the exact same thing. Maybe I am able to accept an assignment in one season of life, but in another season I hesitate. Maybe I can tune out the enemy’s lies for weeks and months, but then something happens and I become vulnerable again. It is truly a constant fight to be still and know that He is God! However, with perseverant practice I find that I am able to more easily hear His promptings while focused on His glory. I pray the same for you so that God will be glorified even more while we are still on this earth.
I asked a dear friend, Abigail, to close this series in prayer:
Dear Father, Thank you for
speaking to your children. Thank you for instructing us in your word how to
quiet our hearts and listen to your voice. We believe that you are a good
shepherd who faithfully leads his sheep, and we respond right now with faith
and thanksgiving. We say “yes” to your voice in our lives! Lead us,
guide us, instruct us. Have your way over every area of our lives: our
families, our work, our leisure, our studies, our finances, our ministries, and
however much time you give us here on earth. Help us to put into practice what
we have learned. Empower us, Holy Spirit, as we seek the practical application
of being doers of the word and responding in obedience to your leading. Be loud
in our lives. Grant us ears that hear your whispers and seek your presence. We
love your glory! Help us to love it more. Tune our hearts to sing your praise
until you return or call us home. You are our greatest treasure dear Lord. Amen