By Bindu Adai-Mathew
Have you ever heard God’s voice? What does He sound like to you? Is it distinct or do you sometimes worry that it is your own conscience or inner voice speaking to you that you mistake for God?
As a child, I imagined if I ever heard God’s voice, it would sound something like James Earl Jones (aka the voice of Darth Vader, minus the heavy mechanical breathing, of course)…you know, a deep, rich, resounding, low baritone. Or maybe even like Charlton Heston.
But as I got older, I can’t recall audibly hearing God’s voice. Often I “heard” God speak through other people…a pastor whose sermon either convicted me or gave me food for thought or a friend whose advice was not only Biblical but also very practical. Even more often, I would read a scripture verse that I felt was directly speaking to me or even go through a situation where God would close all doors except the one that He wanted for me to walk through. While all those are legitimate examples of how God can speak to us, I wanted more…I wanted to audibly hear God. I wanted to hear his voice like I would hear my own husband’s voice. I wanted to hear His voice like Joyce Meyers or pastors often describe distinctly hearing God’s voice.
It wasn’t until recently when a friend told me about a Bible study she was going through that was helping her discern God’s voice. Curious, I asked her to tell me about it because I knew this was something she, too, had struggled with. One of the practical exercises that she shared was directly asking God what He wanted her to do. Okay, I thought to myself, that is something I’ve definitely prayed for. So I wasn’t too far off then. But then she added, “But after you ask God that, don’t say anything else. Just be quiet and wait for Him to answer.”
Whoa! I stared dumbfounded at my friend as that simple statement hit me like a ton of bricks. Ask God a question and then wait for Him to answer?! It sounded like something we’d do with anyone else, but when it comes to God, how often do we really give Him the chance to speak?
If I had to reflect on my prayers, I would have to admit how one-sided they always are. While I’m a good listener with friends, when I pray, I have diarrhea of the mouth. I pray for my family, my friends, myself, and whatever world events are on my heart. I give God my prayers and petitions list which often read out like a “honey do” list. God fix this…help me with that…please do this… As quickly as I let God know what’s on my heart, I say a quick Amen and go about my business. I never wait to hear what’s on God’s heart. How ironic that I, who had wanted to hear God’s voice, had never given God the chance to speak! Perhaps, if I were even more honest with myself, I would have realized that while I wanted to hear Him, I didn’t believe I really could or that He would even speak to me in a way distinct, audible voice.
So let me challenge you as I challenge myself…starting this week, as you pray, ask God to speak to you. And then be quiet and listen…you never know how God will choose to answer!
Jeremiah 29:13: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.