Today I was musing on our discussion in home group, about hearing God’s voice and how that feels. I started to ask myself the question: What helps me to enter into a flow that is consistent and regular in hearing God’s voice?
For me, is trying to keep my mind focused on Jesus throughout the day, abiding in Jesus. Why do I place such great value on this?
The scripture says: ‘He will keep in PERFECT PEACE, he whose mind is STAYED on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3) Those two words – perfect peace – what a combination, put perfect next to peace and you have a paradise on the inside of you! Abiding in God, is in part, having your mind purposefully set and stayed on God.
God says that if YOU do this intentionally, you will enjoy perfect peace. What state of heart and soul do you need to be in to have the best chance at hearing God’s voice? Perfect peace …. Let’s see what God taught Elijah about this:
“Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire,but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire A STILL SMALL VOICE. (1 Kings 11-12)
Now, let me ask you a question: In what kind of environment can you hear a still, small voice? In a troubled, noisy environment or in a peaceful, quiet place? I am sure you would agree with me the answer is a peaceful, quiet place that makes it a lot more likely than a troubled, noisy environment. You can mostly hear a still small voice speaking inside you if you are in a peaceful, quiet state of heart.
And if you intentionally keep your mind on God, you will enter into a state of perfect peace, which in turn will create the perfect environment for hearing God’s voice.
Now, in John 15, the Bible says that if you abide in Jesus, you will bear MUCH FRUIT! And since abiding is, in fact, intentionally setting your mind often on God throughout the day, hearing His voice and responding to it, no wonder you become fruitful!
The recipe for fruitfulness then becomes – persistent focus on God which results in perfect peace, which allows for hearing God’s voice often, which then through obedience and cooperation from us results in fruitfulness, and much of it!
Let’s now talk in practical terms, how does that look for a busy mom or a busy professional. How can they apply the aspect of keeping their mind stayed on God while they have so much to do and they need to give their mind to so many things?
From my personal experience I have learned that it comes down to how you use these 2 areas of your time:
1. What you do with your spare time? The time that is not occupied with tasks that require your 100% focus.
2. What you do with times when your mind does not need full concentration to achieve a task – like when you are cooking, or driving the car, cleaning the house, etc.
It all comes down to using some mind discipline, it’s like training your mind to focus the same way you would train your body in the gym. You can stretch it and teach it to focus by repetitive exercise. You choose to focus intentionally on God, it’s a pure action of the will. At first, you might find your mind tends to wonder away a lot. But you can bring it back into focus by a choice of will and you might have to do it many many times till it learns to focus.
With the grace of God at work, this starts like a discipline and continues like a discipline for a while but at some point it turns into something that just flows, it’s easy, it’s not hard work anymore and it becomes pleasure and delight. It then feels so nice that you won’t want to be out of it and God might have to nudge you to stop and focus on something other that needs your attention for a while, cause you would rather prefer to just be in communion with Him.
I practice this best through worship. I put Christian music on while I drive my kids to school, while I drive to the shops or to run errands.
While at home, cleaning, I put the music on, and while I do the mechanical task of cleaning, my mind is somewhere else in part, focused on singing and communing with God. I do the same while cooking. My spirit is in touch with God while I do mechanical tasks in a very active way. I sometimes feel like I had a full-on worship service while I am cooking, other times I weep for souls over cutting vegetables, other times I dance around full of excitement while I stir the veggies in a stir fry pan. Sometimes I cry with tears of joy, depending on how God moves on me. Lisa watches me and says from time to time: Is God touching you again, Mum? She is watching, and learning… I don’t do this so she sees me, but it’s a good side effect.
Sometimes I even play with Christina and while I am playing I am singing to God and I am both with her and with God in my mind and through singing. Other times you can be in a meeting, and inside you are you are talking and communing with God about the things discussed in the meeting while you are listening to others.
As I worship sometimes prayers come to the surface of my mind. I just let them out, sometimes very short ones, other times longer ones. I just pray as I feel and then come back to worship. While I worship and throughout the day in general, I try to keep my mind with the ‘spiritual antennas’ up, ready to pick up communication from God. Thoughts might get dropped into my spirit: Write to that person, ring that girl and tell her this, you forgot to talk to so and so, you need to spend more time with your children, rest in Me, I’m about to do something new in your life, etc, etc.
This is where obedience comes into play and we need to step out and ‘JUST DO IT!’ At times we don’t feel like doing what God asks. We might feel discouraged and low ourselves and God says: Ring so and so and encourage them. This happened to me a few times. I protested to God that how can I ring to encourage her, I myself need encouragement. But God insisted that if I do this, I will find that I will suddenly feel better myself. I finally gave in and found it exactly so, I rang the person, she indeed needed encouragement, I spoke the truths of God’s Word for her and in the process, I heard it myself from my own mouth! That brought great encouragement to my own soul as well, cause I also heard what I needed to hear!
Obedience is best, and in turn brings great peace to our soul, which means we can hear God better, like this Scripture says: “Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your PEACE would have been like a river, And your righteousness like the waves of the sea. Your descendants also would have been like the sand, And the offspring of your body like the grains of sand; His name would not have been cut off Nor destroyed from before Me.” (Isaiah 48: 18-19)
Can you see how obedience is linked here with peace and with fruitfulness?
Another way to keep abiding in God is to pray in tongues which builds you up on your most holy faith according to the Epistle of Jude.
Listening to the audio Bible (great for mums), audio or video sermons or reading Christian books is another great way to keep your mind focused on God. After listening to the audio Bible, if a Scripture jumps at you, another way to focus on God is to meditate and turn over that scripture in your mind again and again, think about its meaning, study it through Strongs and disctionaries and get all you can out of it. It’s another form of abiding in God.
I also find giving God the first fruits of your day, as a form of honor to God, by having a 100% focus on God time. This is a time of concentrated prayer and reading of the Word, worship, waiting on God – it sets your heart right for the day and it tends to affect how you react to life that day and how productive you are for the rest of the day – that certainly is my experience and many others have agreed with me on this one.
If, though, you are a mother of young ones and tend to get up much in the night, the last option would not be ideal for your stage in life. I would stick with the abiding in God throughout the day in the various forms described above and when you can, while the child is asleep during the day, I would take a short time to have a concentrated time with God. As they grow older, your ability and opportunity to have time with God first thing in the morning will come back.
Let’s summarize the teaching in this article:
What do we need for effective hearing from God? Abiding in God throughout the day, by intentionally setting and keeping our mind on God. This will create an environment of perfect peace, which is the perfect environment for hearing the voice of God. Once we hear the voice of God, we make a choice to cooperate with Him and obey which then in turn brings more peace and brings us into great fruitfulness.
I just want to end this article with a simple exhortation: JUST DO IT! There is no substitute for this!
Note: By no means this is a complete list of practical steps or conditions to be met for hearing God’s voice. God did not ask me to create such a list but only to focus on the aspects above. For more information on hearing the voice of God, please read my other articles on the subject, especially http://www.christian-faith.com/howtohearfromgod/ .