Do you listen expectantly? Are you expecting to hear from God? Are you expecting to receive an answer to your prayer? Some of the Old Testament prophets showed amazing faith when they expected God to answer their prayers. Think bout 1 Kings 18. Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal to a showdown on offering animals to make a mockery of Baal and show the truth to the Israelites that what they were following was a lie. Try as they might the prophets of Baal failed to call down fire and consume their offering. Elijah, one ups them all and has his offering saturated in water and calls on God to burn up the offering which He obliges. Now Elijah knew from experience to expect God to answer. He was doing the work he was called to by God and knew God would answer. God also answers your prayers. Do you allow the time to listen for the answer?
Do you listen quietly? The business of our lives and the competition for our attention means our prayer lives don’t always get the quiet mind we need to listen to the still small voice of God. Sometimes it just takes getting out of our environment and into a quieter place to gain some time away with God. Jesus regularly built into His day seclusion with just Him and the Father. Quiet seclusion can sometimes be the best way to clear our minds, hearts to listen to the loving voice of our heavenly Father.
Are you listening patiently? At times God will delay an answer to our prayers. Sometimes He does it to sift our thoughts and feelings, at other times it’s to prepare our hearts for what He wants to say, and sometimes it may be because the circumstances or timing isn’t right. The fact is waiting on the Lord purifies our heart and motives. It’s in the waiting times God does the work in us. A delayed response from God doesn’t indicate He has forgotten but allows time for us and circumstances to change.
Are you listening actively? To hear God, we must actively be seeking out His Word. Are we reading His word to us with a searching heart looking for Him to answer? That doesn’t mean looking up the verses we think will affirm our desires but reading with an open heart to what God desires to say. Colossians 3:16 tells us that His word is to dwell in us richly and that through it we will have wisdom, be able to teach and correct. If we just dwell on the bits we like in the Bible and not the whole word of God, we will fail to see God’s whole counsel.
Are you listening dependently? We aren’t going to hear from God outside of the work of His Holy Spirit. When Jesus left to go back to the Father, he reassured his guys that He would send a helper, the Spirit of God to indwell them (John 16:7). This reassurance should help us today that Jesus sent His spirit to indwell us and help us hear from the Father.
Unfortunately, one of the reasons people don’t hear from God is that they aren’t living in the Spirit, they aren’t leaning into Jesus daily and are living in disobedience to God.
Are you listening openly? Openly means we are willing to be corrected. Ok guys don’t zone out on me here…Listening openly means God can correct a wrong attitude or decision that we may hold in our lives. And it’s not because He knows everything, which He does, but because any attitude or wrong thought may be hindering us from becoming the best we can be. It may be that we need to hear from God about the way we see Him. Or gain God’s perspective on a subject. Listening openly is sitting at the feet of Jesus and allowing his gentle spotlight into our hearts.
Are you listening attentively? It’s hard to listen to someone in a crowded noisy room. You must really lean in to listen, and even then, it may be a game of nodding and agreeing with what you think you may or may not have heard. Likewise Listening to God requires us to be fully attentive. Someone may have a word in passing that can be a warning from God. It’s good in these times to take this to the Lord and ask Him what is going on here, what do I need to heed or know? Sometimes listening attentively is just paying attention to the tension inside of yourself and taking that to the Lord.
Are you listening carefully? Scripture reveals our innermost thoughts and motives. When we listen carefully, we are sifting everything we hear through scripture. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God’s Word cuts through to the core of the matter. It’s best we spend time passing what we hear through the absolute standard of God’s truth.
Are you listening submissively? Submissively as a word has a bad rap these days, almost negative connotations but when we listen to God, we need to have a servant’s heart like Mary did when told by the angel that she was to have Jesus. Our reply should echo hers in Luke 1:28 “Behold, the bond slave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” God will speak to us when we have a servant’s heart to listen and obey. When Jesus knelt in the garden of Gethsemane, He did so already committed to what the Father would say. This remains one of the greatest challenges to us as disciples today.
Are you listening gratefully? God desires to speak to you. Let that sink in. The same God that holds the worlds spinning in space by His Word, who formed and fashioned and thought about you before you were made desires to have a relationship with you. To develop a close bond with you that is closer than any human. Coming to God with a grateful heart and attitude can help us in listening to God and what He has to say in our lives. Again, there is nothing more exciting in the human experience than hearing personally from our Heavenly Father.