Prayer is a conversation between me and God and how things are going in our work together.
This is the way Dallas Willard spoke of prayer and it has informed my thinking on the whole topic of “Hearing God.” In fact, “Hearing God” is the newer title of his classic book, originally titled “In Search of Guidance.” And, we sure do hear a lot about hearing God today.
So, let me be still another person jumping into the whole “hearing God” pool. I hope it will be helpful. I will make a few observations, using three key guidelines from “Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God.”
Love God with all your being.
Conversation is about relationship. The more I develop into the kind of person who wants what God wants, the clearer and more frequent the communication will be between me and God . I trust that God will expand our connections as I grow in seeking his good and acting upon it with all that I am.
Mere humans can talk with God.
You have heard from God. You just may not know it was God speaking. My friend is fond of saying, “God has way more talk than we have listen.” It’s about perception. And, the challenge may even be with the word, “hearing.” We think that hearing from God is an auditory thing, like what we read about in the Bible.
Actually, there are times I like to use phrases that aren’t hearing-focused. Not, “What’s God saying to you?” or “What do you hear God saying?“ Instead I might ask, “What are you perceiving from God?” or “What’s God communicating with you?”
Yes, it can be words we actually hear, but God speaks more in our minds than in our ears. Life Model Works’ teachings have been very helpful for me here.
For example, using Immanuel Prayer, we ask God, “What is going on here?” and then we wait to “hear.” It can be expressed in words or word pictures. It may be even more than that, as we think of fast track brain communication and experiencing a mutual mindset with God. My current fascination is doing study and reflection on the fast track brain teaching from the recently published book Rare Leadership and how this applies to prayer and other spiritual dimensions. The phrase, “…sighs too deep for words,” comes to mind (Romans 8:26).
Hearing God doesn’t make us righteous.
Dallas says, “The infallibility of the messenger and the message does not guarantee the infallibility of our reception.”
This is a key word of wisdom for us with our prayer life, and our biblical study, for that matter. Because the Word of God is infallible/inerrant/ inspired/(insert another “I” word)…doesn’t mean I get it. It doesn’t mean I am right. And even if I am right, it may not be what God intended for me to hear.
It also helps to know this if I think I have a prophetic word for someone else. It’s good to remember when I am speaking for God it might not be. Speaking…for…God.
So, whenever I sense God has something to say to someone else directly through me, I always qualify my input by saying something like this:
“I think I have a word from God for you. I may be wrong, maybe it’s just coming from me, but what I hear is _______________. Does this synch with you? Does this makes sense?”
Now compare that to this:
“God told me to tell you______.”
I am always wary of the absolute inside hotline access some folks seem to possess. In fact, when someone speaks to me in this way, I’ve been known to say,
“Really, because God told me this morning not to listen to anyone who tells me they heard from him about me.” 🙂
It is good for us to remember that when we hear from God it’s not a big spiritual award we receive because we have our act so together. What good and loving father doesn’t want to talk with his kids? It’s wonderful, but it is no big deal.
When I talk to my dad in Minnesota, I don’t get all puffed up and say to my friends, “I heard from my father this morning…” Same goes for God.
We shouldn’t be shocked and we shouldn’t think we are all that when we hear from God.
Just enjoy the conversation, consider what it might means, act on it if it is appropriate and keep on listening.