All Ears – How to Hear the Lord
God wants us to develop our relationship with Him. He wants us to know, test and approve of His will (Romans 12:2) which means we need to learn to listen to God, to recognise his voice and respond to what He asks us.
Our faith rests on and is developed by the Word of God
John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me
We decide, we determine in our own hearts whether we want to listen to the Lord;
Jesus clearly states that WE HEAR his voice so when we read the Bible or when we pray, that should be our expectation … to hear God.
Prov 3:5-6 Lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.
Now that we are born again, we learn to not lean on what we think, but instead rely on God’s Word and begin to see what God says about the way we should live and the situations that we face.
Rom 10:17 Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word about Christ
The Bible is actually the source of our faith. We cannot pray for faith. Faith comes directly from the Word. We read or hear it, believe it and confess it.
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The Bible is not a collection of stories but it is the very word of God. In fact, we are reminded in James 1:21 that the Word is planted in us. God lives in us and He brings the word to life in us and even reveals the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts.
2 Tim 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
God wants us to be equipped for every day of our life and that means that as we spend time with Him, He will reveal more of Himself to us.
James 1:5 If anyone lacks wisdom you should ask God
In fact, God is interested in every aspect of our life, not just day to day, and as we listen to Him, He gives us the wisdom that we need for every decision and every circumstance.
How we hear the Lord
There are three ways in which we hear the Lord.
- Logos – constant, permanent Word of God. (John 1:1, Heb 4:12)
The promises in the Bible do not change and whenever we read this we know that we are reading the living Word of God.
- Rhema – the now Word of God. (John 6:63 & 15:7, Eph 6:17)
There are times when God highlights a specific verse or passage, a promise that we need to hold on to, a word that speaks right into a circumstance we are in.
- Gifts of the Spirit – i.e. prophesy, knowledge, wisdom – things we don’t know ourselves that God gives us supernaturally (1 Cor 12:7-11)
- Leading and prompting of the Spirit, an inner sense of the leading of the Spirit.
For example, we read in Acts 16:6 that the Holy Spirit kept Paul from preaching in Asia.
Through the Word and the Spirit as above.
It is essential that we spend time personally hearing God ourselves and don’t just rely on other people. However, it is important that we remain humble and test the word we hear with our leaders. It is very difficult as a leader to respond to someone who comes to us and says “God said …” because this tends to close the door on us being able to say anything corrective. A better way would be to say “I believe God is saying …” as this gives room for correction as well as confirmation.
- Our Leaders
There are times when we may seek counsel from a leader in authority over us or a leader is led to speak to us about something.
- Fivefold ministers: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers
Eph 4:11-12 says that these ministries are given to equip the body for works of service. Every Sunday we should come expectant ready to hear what God has to say to us through the minister, whether the Pastor, a leader in the church or a guest minister.
Proverbs 27:17 says As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Paul exhorts us in 1 Thess 5:11 to encourage and build one another up. So, when we meet with our friends we encourage each other, share with one another and allow them to speak into our life as well as being ready to speak a word into their life. However, this should not be given quite the same weight as a leader speaking into your life.
- Others including children, young Christians, etc.
1 Tim 4:12 says Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
Most of the time children look at things simply, they aren’t coloured by the lens of life’s experience; they take God at His Word. Their faith is just as precious as yours.
In all these situations, we should test the word given with the Word (the Bible).
Setting the environment
Find a time each day when you won’t be interrupted. Often, first thing in the morning is easiest before the rest of the day begins. However, if you are a new mum or a single parent with a young family this can be difficult. The important point is to find some time during the day.
Bible, journal (notebook), pen, reading plan
Cut out the noise
Make sure there are no distractions. Turn off your phone, put your mobile and tablet on silent.
Throw off the hindrances (Heb 12:1-2)
If there is any sin in your life, repent. The enemy wants you to focus on your sin and make you feel ashamed so that you don’t meet with God. God wants you to know you are forgiven and able to receive.
Meditating on the Word
S.O.A.P. is a great method for meditating on the Word. There are so many reading plans available to read from themes to the whole Bible on the YouVersion App. Plus this year we are reading through the New Testament together as a church.
- Scripture Read through your passage for the day asking God to reveal Himself to you as you read.
- Observation What stood out to you today?
- Application How can I apply this?
- Prayer Ask God to help you apply what you have learned.
John 8:32 says “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The original text says “the truth that you know”. This means we need to read the Bible and ask God to give us revelation as we read.
Write down what God has spoken to you. What you have observed from the Word is one part but also take some time to just listen to what God is saying to you.
Praying in tongues
1 Corinthians 14:4 tells us that praying in tongues edifies us, it builds us up. When we pray in tongues we are allowing the spirit in us to pray. It also helps us to hear God more clearly as we are focusing on what He wants to pray rather than what we want to pray. Try building this spiritual muscle. Start with 5 mins a day and work up to 15 mins on a regular basis. You will soon find that you spontaneously pray in the spirit during the day
Potential pitfalls in hearing God
Laying down fleeces
In Judges 6 we read about Gideon putting a test before the Lord to see if the Lord’s word is true or not. The Lord was gracious to Gideon! However, we are told in Deuteronomy 6:16 to not put the Lord to the test. The only area in which God does say test me is with regard to bringing the whole tithe in Malachi 3:5.
There are times when we are praying for someone who is very close to us or we are emotionally caught up in a situation. These are times when we have to be very careful in making sure we are hearing God and not hearing what we want to hear.
For example, we have often had couples who find they are pregnant being sure that God has told them they are having a boy or a girl, only to give birth to the opposite sex. There are times when God does speak very specifically and this is usually confirmed by others when they are praying for the couple.
Circumstances lining up
There are some occasions when we don’t respond to God because we want to see certain circumstances lining up first.
If God has asked you to do something or you feel led by the Spirit to be part of a team, for example, then it is far better to respond in obedience than to wait.
These are prophetic words that are given that direct someone’s path. A directional prophecy should always confirm what is already in the receiver’s heart. They become dangerous when they are unsubmitted, unconfirmed, unsubstantiated or doesn’t line up with scripture.
Letting the ministry take over from your personal walk in prayer
Having your own personal time with God is essential in staying strong, being refreshed and hearing from God for yourself. If you spend all your time praying for others, then there is no time to receive yourself. This should be done separately or at the end of your time with God.
John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me
Whether you are beginning your journey with God or whether you have been walking with Him for years, God has so much that He wants to say to you … the real question is not whether God is speaking but whether we are listening!
Plan & Write down
This week take some time to set your environment:
Time of day:
What distractions do I need to deal with?