Hearing God

Here is a quick answer to an e-mail I received today from someone asking about how to hear from God and how we know when we’re hearing from Him or not.

Learning to hear from God is a long-term thing.  It really begins by meeting him in scripture, beginning to learn his character and will and ultimately moves over time to a spiritual intuition and discernment that couples your knowledge of God with your knowledge of his call on your life and how that all intersects with your current circumstances and emotions.

I think that the reason most people have a hard time with clarity in their prayer life is that their prayers often only come from lack of clarity.  The biblical model seems to show us a more robust prayer life where our relationship with God over time makes it easier to handle confusion and enables us to discern his voice more clearly.

For example, if I don’t know someone well I’ll call to see what Starbucks drink I should bring.  As I become really close with that person, however, I no longer call and simply know what to bring.

We use prayer as a “call in” when prayer was designed largely to be the vehicle by which we “become really close.”

Do you see the irony?

By way of advice, therefore, I can think of nothing better than beginning with the habits of prayer, solitude and scripture reading.  Journaling or meeting regularly with someone you respect spiritually are next on the list.

This might not help you with clarity as to what God is saying in the short-term, but it will in the long-term.

What I normally tell people is to make their short-term prayer goal that they would build the long-term habits and that their deepest desire would grow to be more for relationship with God than his answers to our problems.  It is a prayer, it seems, that God is always eager to answer.

Is this helpful at all?

The only other piece of advice I could offer you would be to seek advice, question your own motives ruthlessly, be aware that the answer God often wants to give is the last one we want to hear and ultimately look for “Coincidences with a capital ‘C'” – the phrase Tamara and I use for seeing God’s fingerprint on things.

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