Listening: Hearing God Speak
Billy Graham famously said, ‘Prayer is a two-way conversation between you and God.’
However, often our prayer lives look more like a voicemail message, rather than a call. We’re so keen to speak to God and share our requests that we can so easily forget that he might want to say something to us.
Throughout the Bible, there are many famous stories of God speaking to his people - we’ll read one in our passage for today. We can read these stories and wish that God was as obvious in speaking to us. But the reality is that God does speak today, in many different ways, like in this amazing story:
I was stranded in Chicago. All aeroplanes had been grounded by the eruption of an Icelandic volcano and I couldn’t get home to England. I asked God how he wanted me to use the interruption. Several American friends had already been kind enough to invite me to stay, but as I prayed, I found myself thinking about a particular friend who lived 150 miles west in Madison, Wisconsin. ‘Hey I’m in Chicago,’ I emailed. ‘Can I come crash on your couch?’
I didn’t know that Joe had just received terrible news, nor that his worried wife had asked, ‘Who do you wish you had on your couch right now., Joe?’ Those were her exact words. Nor that he had replied, ‘I wish Pete was on my couch, but I know that’s crazy because he’s in England, and he’s never even been to our home.’
The prophet Malachi says that ‘those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard.’ Sometimes God listens to our casual conversations and receives them as prayers. Within hours of Joe’s throw-away line, I had materialised on his couch.’
What’s encouraging in this story is that Pete simply asked God to show him where to go, and then found himself thinking of his friend. Hearing God’s voice didn’t require a super spiritual process or hours in silence.
We can all listen for God’s voice in our day to day by pausing; by reflecting on Scripture; by listening carefully to wise friends. Taking time to listen can enrich our relationship with God and our prayers.
God, I invite you to speak to me today. Help me to recognise your voice and follow where you lead me. Amen