I was preaching yesterday on the lost art of listening to God. When I came to Christ at 17, it was drilled into me, as part of my discipleship, to have a daily “quiet time”. I still do. But so many seem to have given up on that idea. How did that happen? Let’s get back to listening to God.
I was struck by Christ’s words in John 10 v27 “My sheep listen to my voice” yet how few of us really do listen to his voice or hear it among the clamour of all the other voices of a stressful every day existence.
But Noah heard his voice. Instructed to build an ark, what seemed like an unbelievably stupid thing to do, he spent 100 years of his life (1/6 of it) working at the project. He was criticised, rebuked, mocked and jeered, but he held firm, because he heard the voice of God. Listening to God has a way of empowering you for the most difficult of tasks.
There are various ways we hear his voice.....
We can hear God’s voice in creation – how therapeutic to walk in the great outdoors and see how “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19 v1) ”Their voice goes out into all the earth” (v4). We hear God’s voice primarily through the Word (that’s one reason why it is the Word!) and no Christian, who desires to grow can ever afford to neglect the Bible on a consistent basis.
We hear his voice in the public gathering as Nehemiah discovered when he gathered the people together and Ezra preached from a raised platform.
But we also need lots of solitude and quietness to hear his voice - the still small voice of our God. Take time. Close the door. Switch off the Iphone and the television. Get alone with the Creator and say as Samuel did, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”. How important this is if we want to know God’s direction for our lives, our families and our jobs, our ministry. God’s direction. The Creator’s voice. And what a privilege it is to hear him and then to obey. Glorious!!
One of our ministry leaders summed it up beautifully in an email to me, explaining how she got involved in her particular ministry....
“...........the one thing that is very clear to me now is that I hear God most when I make extended time and space to listen to him. It sounds too obvious but it is something that is missing for lots of us. When I felt God was directing me .................., I couldn't get enough of time in His presence. He was really working in my life and using your preaching, my personal bible study and the stirring of the Holy Spirit to fill me...................................that I literally couldn't walk away from it.
Not all times in my life are so marked with clarity on hearing God's voice and direction, but when it happens, there's no mistaking it and it's incredible2".