While preaching in early 2013, I took a risk and tried to do a practical listening exercise right there on a Sunday morning. Though the results should not have surprised me, it did. Multiple people came to me and expressed such amazement at how clearly they sensed God speaking to them in the process. All it took was just a few minutes of purposeful listening. I would like to briefly discuss the exercise we did, and encourage you to try it, and maybe make it part of your journey with the lord on a more frequent basis!
If we were to truly understand the relational nature of God, and how much he intends to, and is available to speak to us, we would take this much more seriously. Our prayer times would sound much less like a monologue, or a list of requests, and will sound much more like a conversation, a quality time with our Lord! Try this at home:
- Quiet yourself. Find a place to sit where you will be uninterrupted for a few minutes.
- Picture yourself in a place where you have experienced stillness, peacefulness, and calm. Maybe it is walking on a beach, or a sitting in a forest, or on top of a mountain.
- Now imagine you are there with Jesus. The Holy Spirit is always there, always around us, and we are always able to know the presence of the Lord, but for this exercise, physically picture seeing, or sitting, or walking with Him.
- At this point, if your to-do list comes up, write down those thoughts on a separate piece of paper so that you can move on form there. If issues of sin come up, confess your sin to Jesus, and accept his forgiveness. Now walk in that forgiveness and acceptance of Jesus … If your past or history comes up in a way that condemns you, and brings you shame, turn your thoughts to Jesus who saved you and welcomes you to Him.
- Now, imagine that Jesus starts talking to you … What does he say? Write it down as the thoughts come to mind … Write down what you imagine Jesus saying to you now.
It really is as simple as this. Now maybe you’re wondering if you treat these words as true words from Jesus, or just your imagination, or even the enemy trying to confuse you. Those are good questions. So, how do you judge or measure what you wrote? Very importantly, all things are judged against the written, revealed will of God in scripture. Secondly, we need to understand that the schemes of the devil. He comes to steal, kill and destroy. Judge the words you have written by that standard. Is it condemning, life-sucking, or discouraging? Then more than likely you should find a leader or a friend to pray with you, and walk these things out. Lastly though, if you think some of this could just be your own imagination, I encourage you to relax in those thoughts. Spending too much time trying to psycho analyze yourself all the time will only lead to long periods of introspection which isnt the goal here. We have been transformed, and renewed and given the mind of Christ. Maybe some of the thoughts are self, but the more you do this, the more you spend time in communion with Him, the more you will learn to discern what is just yourself, wishful thinking, or the voice of Jesus speaking life, wholeness, repentance, acceptance commission and direction to you.
Some verses to meditate on as you understand the importance of queiting yourself as you spend time with the Lord:
- “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalms 46:10 ESV)
- “I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me,” (Habakkuk 2:1 ESV)
- “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he [Jesus] departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 ESV)
- “But now even more the report about him [Jesus] went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. (Luke 5:15, 16 ESV)