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Friday, March 16, 2012

Hearing God

I was reading this morning in Psalm 95.  I was struck by 7b – 8.  That led me to Hebrews 3:7 – 4:16 and finally to John 10:27 – 28 (I share that first in case you want to read these before you read what I have to say about all of these.)  There is a lot in this section of Scripture.
What keeps us from hearing God?
In the past few years I have been interested in being more intentional with listening prayer.  That is why this group of passages got my attention.  I have read on this subject and developed a study on the topic for our small group (I would recommend Dallas Willard’s book, Hearing God on this topic – I can’t find my copy, I must have loaned it to someone).

I noticed several things as I worked through these verses this morning.  I do not have room here to unfold all of this but if you are reading through it look at all that is covered here:

  • The Holy Spirit’s role in our hearing God
  • The barriers to hearing God
    • Hardening our Hearts
    • Testing God
    • Disobedience
  • The role of the community in hearing God
  • The relationship between hearing God and the rest
  • The role of the Word of God in hearing God
  • The role of Christ in hearing God
The Holy Spirit through the Word under the ministry of Christ enables us to hear God.
I drew a diagram in my journal to help me understand what was going on.  It seems that the Holy Spirit through the Word of God under the ministry of the High Priest, Jesus, with the encouragement of the community helps me to not harden my heart in disobedience so that I can hear God’s voice and enter into His rest.  For me that seems like a fairly succinct description of how I have experienced my walk with God.


  1. I would love to see some interaction on this one!

    This is a terrific meditation, Mike.
    I have some reflections on this from my own limited experience and struggles.

    One is on the place of community that you mentioned. This was largely absent in the realm of "hearing God" in any significant degree in my walk with God. Oh, I prayed with people (good!), studied with many and the Word was opened in new ways (I'm incredibly thankful!), etc. But to consciously move into the presence of God with others and hear His voice - that was something "those other people" did, and I was always suspicious.

    Then about 20 years ago (OK, so I'm a slow learner) I had my first experience with a group of like-hearted colaborers who came together for the specific (and only) purpose of seeking God for Himself, just to enjoy and hear from Him. It was at the suggestion of my dear wife (about whom I will reflect a little later). I would liken my experience to that of the paralyzed man in Mark 2; these friends literally carried me in an obviously metaphorical but very significant sense into God's presence and helped me prepare to hear from God. And we did so, both individually and corporately.

    I must hasten to add that all of us regularly, as part of our life styles, practiced most of the other disciplines Mike illumined. And we meditated on the Word together and consciously sought God through the Holy Spirit. I grieve that this group no longer meets; I desperately miss it.

    One other thing for me is, how do I recognize when God is speaking. Many ways are obvious, others far more subtle. I mentioned above my wife's role in getting me to this group the first time (it was not local, but required significant travel, time and expense). I didn't really want to go. I viewed it as an expense in time and money we didn't have and was unnecessary. OK for her, but very optional for me.

    I think it was Howard Hendricks I heard say that men are willing to hear from God from any source - except their wives. My simple experience is, if mine has a sense of something I had better listen. In fact, if she speaks to something she senses we should do, or not do, I had better have some very good reasons for my sense. She will always go with my decision and graciously help me get out of the mess I create. I have numerous scars to show for violating this simple truth. It would have been so simple (in retrospect) to honor her more in the first place.

    One more little reflection, on obedience. In my life it's not the "big sins," usually - it's the little foxes. Jesus (may I suggest) COMMANDS us to "come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."

    Do I know any believer who is NOT weary and heavy-laden - if engaged in the battle? Only if he/she has learned to rest in Jesus. There are a number of ways to do this, I'm sure (subject of a future post, Mike?). But one thing is for sure, I think - time WITH Jesus. And it's not just "quality" time, either. It takes a quantity of time, because we can't just "schedule in" quality time. It happens. (And this also applies to our children, and spouses; oops - this is getting too convicting...)

    1. Thanks for your kind words and the great comment.