How to Pray


Listening: Get to know God's voice

Yesterday, we started to think about the incredible reality that God, Creator of the Universe speaks to us. However, God rarely speaks in the way we’d like or expect. 

Most people today miss the voice of God not because it’s too strange but because it’s too familiar. They expect the Almighty to sound dramatic, bombastic, unmistakable and a bit spooky.

In our Bible passage today, we read that Elijah experienced the voice of God as a gentle whisper, not in the more obvious wind, earthquake or fire that came before.

The ‘gentle whisper’ of God sometimes comes to me as an idea or a mental impression during a time of quiet prayer, but more often it comes afterwards, during a time of distraction...

We often want God to speak in a way that’s obvious and convenient for us. But God’s voice can sound ordinary; quiet; sometimes so subtle that we’re not really sure if it’s actually Him. And as Pete points out, God doesn’t always speak to us during our allotted quiet time! 

Since God’s guidance can often come to me disguised as an ordinary thought or a whim, I tend to ask myself two questions before acting on any such impulse: 

1. Is this like Jesus? If I obeyed this idea, would the resulting action reflect the character and purpose of Christ? Is it the sort of thing he would do? 

2. What’s the worst that could happen if I were to get this wrong? If the answer is, ‘Actually it would be a disaster if I got this wrong,’ the red lights start flashing! I pause and pray. I ask advice from others. I take a little time to discern the best way forward. My general rule of thumb is to be wary of words that are harsh, heavy or directional.’

Learning to hear God’s voice can take time; it could be months, even years before we fully recognise when God is speaking. However, with these practical tips we can begin learning today. Sometimes it might mean stepping out in faith - or, like Elijah in the desert, patiently waiting for the Lord’s voice to speak. 

Lord, today I pray for wisdom and boldness as I learn to hear your voice. Help me to be alert to what you’re doing and how you’re speaking to me.