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Discipleship Blog

How do we listen to God?

Anna Grace Glaize

Student Question

How do I listen to God?

Tony’s Response

(Part 1)

For me to answer this question, I feel like it's essential for us to ground our understanding of prayer as "practice."  When prayer is a practice, it helps us to be honest about the very real challenges of hearing from God. Very few of us are just naturals... in fact, most of us feel like we're beginners at best with prayer. When we think of prayer as a practice, it helps us to remember that it isn't so much a switch we flip, but a seed that we sow. Over time, our ability to listen deeply to God may be cultivated.

We are taught, both in scripture and in the lives of disciples through the ages, that God's voice is best heard in silence. Think of the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19:9-14. Some dramatic, earth-shaking stuff happens. Yet the story tells us, repeatedly, the Lord was not to be heard or found in that.  Instead, God's voice comes to Elijah as a gentle whisper—one that shakes him to his core.  And Mother Teresa taught us that if we don't create space for silence in our lives, it is increasingly unlikely that we will be able to hear God's voice of guidance and direction. If you're like me, silence is tough. Even when we do try to enter into quiet space, we find our minds spinning with noise and busy thoughts.  (We'll talk about this in the next post!)  


Before we talk more about silence and prayer, let's talk about what we  mean by "hearing God's voice."  Because that can seem like a daunting thing.  Many, if not most, have not heard God address us audibly.  But we know from Scripture and the testimony of fellow Christians that some have heard God's voice in this way—literally out loud, or at least so clearly that it seems audible. It's hard to say why this happens for some and not for others. 


But this is NOT the only way to understand "hearing God's voice."  Most often, when talk about hearing God's voice we are referring to the way that our hearts or minds are stirred; we suddenly see things differently or feel called to respond in new ways to the people or circumstances around us. This is usually accompanied by an overwhelming sense that this shift came from outside of ourselves.  Many times, you'll have to describe it as something that happened TO you.  Often times it will function as a turning point for a given situation or relationship, though it may be quite challenging to articulate the experience or explain what you now know.  But one thing's for sure, it leads you down a new path that is at once exciting and yet uncertain and unexplored. 


Can you think of any times when you have experienced that kind of move of God?  How do you try to put it into words?  


Edited by Anna Grace Glaize

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