Friday, January 27, 2012

Learning to hear God's voice. Are you listening?

How does God speak to us through the Holy Spirit? There are probably many ways as we are each uniquely wired but often it is through "impressions" or "promptings" that come to us. Impressions or promptings are like watermarks on good paper. It is there if you look for it but not always obvious. It takes attention to see it.

Impressions are like that. They don't scream at us, they are just there. Often we don't pay too much attention but we should! It just might be the God of the universe talking back to us which is a big WOW! Some might call it intuition and certainly intuition fits the description. I will often mull and pray over an issue for a period of time and then one day it is like a light bulb goes on or an impression settles on me and I know I have an answer. Often, the Holy Spirit has provided me with counsel - divine counsel.

The descriptors that Jesus used to describe the person and the role of the Holy Spirit in John are helpful in this regard: "Advocate," "Spirit of truth," the one who will "teach us all things," the One who will "guide you into all the truth," who "will tell you what is yet to come," One who will "help you and be with you forever," (John 14-17).

Clearly the Holy Spirit communicates with those who are Christ followers. Why else would God have him take up actual residence in our bodies? Christ in us - through the Holy Spirit. He is after all our Counselor. The issue is not whether He communicates but whether we have trained ourselves to hear

When my wife, Mary Ann wants my attention her physical presence and voice let me know. (Even then, being of the male species, I might not actually hear. At least that is what she claims and which I take exception to). So, how much more attention on our part does it take to "hear" the Holy Spirit who rarely speaks with an audible voice but is a quiet presence in our hearts who wants to get our attention from time to time? When He gently messes with the neurons in my brain to impress something on me, do I hear?

Here is where our attention comes in. I have learned not to dismiss those impressions but to pay close attention to them. I have a suspicion that when I get to heaven and ask God why He didn't answer such and such a prayer He will show me all the ways He spoke back but my hearing was not very good. I want to sharpen my hearing to His promptings because if they are coming from the voice of God it is truly important for me to hear!

I realize we hear from God imperfectly just as my wife would report (incorrectly I might add) about her communications to me. Sometimes I do a better job than other times. But learning to be aware of the impressions or promptings of the Holy Spirit is a skill that can be cultivated and developed. 

Think about instances where you have had impressions or promptings that you know are from the Holy Spirit. Then do two things. Ask the Father to make you more sensitive to His "voice" in your life and then pay attention. He might just surprise you.

Remember, "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you (John 14:14-17). He is there. Are you listening?


DJump said...

If anyone wants to go deeper to learn how to draw closer and tune into the Holy Spirit's "Intimacy with God" by Dr. Ben Sawatsky, an excellent resource for this purpose.

Bob Burris said...

The Spirit of Truth leads us into the truth of the Bible - I think that's the context of the text cited. Let's not forget His number 1 method and we can be sure it's Him also! And re-read in case we've missed something! And study from what others have heard, and learn to listen better by studying interpretive methods. And memorize what we know to be sure. Promptings need to be under the authority of the Word.

Anonymous said...

You are tempting the wrath of the John McArthur camp by suggesting the Spirit speaks at all except through the Scriptures.

Would you fault me if I said sometimes I don't want to hear? It seems the times of deepest struggle in my entire life have come when I have stood where He told Me too.

Right now I am saddened by a prolonged battle of a close friend and loved one who is trapped by fear and cannot seem to break free. She finds scant release and then the dark spirits are after her again. She is at times confused, in denial, cowardly, disinterested, every excuse one can make but never coming fully to a commitment to the path of life in Christ described in God's word. I have watched this go on for fully seventeen years and no amount of prayer or counsel, or acceptance, or rebuke seems to help. I know for a fact that at times the Spirit has tried to speak through her but she often quenches it for fear of the consequences, for fear of rejection.

How do you keep going when the direction he sends you seems to be straight into a brick wall?