About 79 percent of people have prayed for themselves and 87 percent have prayed for others, according to data from a randomized Gallup survey. Research has also discovered that six out of seven people still believe that their prayers can be answered.
Perhaps that is because prayer is one of the most natural and instinctive of human responses we have.
However I wonder how many of those people praying expected an answer back, and for God to speak specifically to them in some way? Sadly not many I would think, which is probably because people don’t recognise how God speaks, or if He speaks to us at all.
Hearing God speak is like learning a new language. He speaks in different ways, to different people. Sometimes it’s through miracles, supernatural means, natural means, visions, dreams, trances, by invading our minds with a part of a sentence or just a single word that we may not even understand at the time. He speaks by impressions, which often communicate knowledge, and through everyday events, and our experiences, and trials.
But to hear God’s voice in our everyday lives means learning the language of heaven, which at first may seem like we are learning a foreign language.
Little children learn a foreign language while in a foreign country easily because they are highly motivated to learn how to speak that language so they can play with other children. That motivation factor is just as important in learning heaven’s language, and recognising God speaking to us.
Children also learn quickly because their native speech patterns are not so ingrained in them as in adults. In the same way we can figure that God either doesn’t speak to us, or only speaks to us in particular ways. It can be difficult to embrace the language of visions, dreams or stepping into heavenly places if it seems unnatural to us, and we don’t accept that God could speak to us, or have a mindset that He will only speak in a particular way.
Children learn a foreign language faster than adults because their young vocal cords have not yet hardened like those of an adult. They are flexible. Likewise, when learning the language of heaven there is a point at which some people become so hardened by their doctrines, mindsets, unbelief and traditions. These make it difficult for them to hear God in any way, or except in the way in which they have always heard Him.
But God is speaking, and if we seek Him, we will find Him, if we seek Him with all our hearts. “He must wait for us to come to him so he can show us his love and compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.” (Isaiah 30:18 NLT)
You cannot learn a new language except by trial and error. Only those who are willing to try and fail will ever become proficient at understanding which impressions, dreams, words, etc come from God, and which arise merely from their own souls.
People can spend a lot of time arguing, studying, and choosing to push God away rather than seeking to discover Him, and practicing to hear His voice clearly. We can make the mistake of spending all our time intellectualising and learning, while others throw themselves into seeking, finding and living in the knowledge a God who speaks to them personally on a regular basis.
I distinctly remember as a 14 year old hearing God speak to me through a clear thought in my mind. I was riding my bike to an appointment in another part of the city I was not familiar with, and I became terribly lost. It was quickly getting dark and I had no light on my bicycle, and I had just narrowly missed being hit by a car. I was cold, scared, and as it was before everyone had mobile phones I had no way of contacting home for assistance. I prayed a simple and desperate prayer,” God please help me, show me where to go”. Straight away I heard the words in my mind, “Go into that house ahead of you”. I stopped and looked ahead of me at a house lit up on the side of the street. Really I thought, “I don’t know anyone there”? But again I heard “Go into that house, they will help you”. So lacking any other solution to my predicament, and complete darkness fast approaching, I went and knocked on the door. A couple smiled and welcomed me into their home, fed me, phoned my parents and looked after me until my Dad could come and collect me. The people could have been anyone, but I knew I’d heard from God, I’d learnt to recognise His voice in the everyday things, so when I really needed the confidence that I was hearing Him I had it enough to act. In hindsight I could have just asked for better navigation skills, but that I discovered later.
It takes time through constant use, to get confident. But if we keep our hearts open to God’s correction, develop the habit of asking his opinion on matters, and then listening for his answers, then over time we will become skilled at hearing His voice, receiving His guidance and subsequently the answers to our prayers.
Take the time today to listen for His voice. Whether that’s through experiences, impressions, thoughts, dreams, visions, or someone or something else God uses to get your attention. Practice living that way, and you will come to know as a personal friend the God who speaks.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28)
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” (Hebrews 1:1-2)
Prayer: God please help me to recognise your voice when you are speaking, and to not ignore you. I want to know you, and to hear your voice. In Jesus Name Amen.