I’m thinking tonight about some of the ways that we can listen for God. Like any important discussion, time in prayer with God has to include time for listening. Sure, we pour out our heart – or, as Paul wrote in Philippians 4, “in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” – and express our deepest desires, and (hopefully!) express our willingness to know and follow God’s will. But it is also important to take some time to listen.
Many more wise than I have shared ways of listening for God over the years, but I thought I’d go ahead and share a few ideas:
Search the Scriptures
Searching the Scriptures is a term used by John Wesley, drawing from John 5, to refer to the various ways we can engage Scripture to know Christ. Wesley shared that it can be in reading, or through eharing sermons, or even in other means.
The next time you’re seeking to know and hear God, consider finding ways to engage God through Scripture. You might…
- flip through the Psalms or Proverbs, seeking a word
- open your Bible randomly, and see what you find
- slowly read a section of the Gospels to hear Jesus’ word to you.
Listen to your discomfort
I believe that there is often an aspect of God’s word or will for us when we experience discomfort or anxiety about something in prayer… Consider that the central Christian idea of metanoia – repentance – has to first be rooted in our recognition of our need to change, and this is generally associated with dis-ease. The Greek word used in the New Testament for salvation can also mean healing; hence, the salvation we experience through repentance is like being healed of disease.
Seek your peace
When seeking to hear the word of God, consider where your heart is at peace. In considering different potential responses or outcomes – and this is more specific to your own actions – where do you feel a degree of deep peace with the move. Where dis-ease can be a sense of our need to follow God’s call to move in the right direction or make an important change, a sense of true peace with a decision can be God’s word of assurance.
Listen to others
I believe that God often brings particular people into our lives for a reason. Perhaps in listening to those you respect and trust, you can also discern God speaking to you.
Go for a walk
Sometimes, you just need to get outdoors, away from the distractions of television and iPhone, to sense the presence of God. Get out, and see if you sense God’s direction in the quiet of the morning, in the light of a setting sun, or perhaps in the sound of a bird singing…
Those are just a few ideas rambling around in my mind this evening, but I would love to hear your ideas of ways you seek to listen to God. Please feel free to share!