Here we go; the first of the final questions at the end of Hearing God.
What is practical advice for a person to hear the voice of God or what can a person do to have a chance to hear Him?
Dr. Willard starts his answer to this question by quoting James Dobson. Dobson is very practical. He says this:
“I get down on my knees and say, ‘Lord, I need to know what you want me to do, and I am listening. Please speak to me through my friends, books, magazines I pick up and read and through circumstances.’”
Is that direct enough for you?
It is not complex but it shows commitment. Let’s break it down.
You are asking God what He wants you to do. You are not telling God what you want Him to do. Dobson knows that God can use many means of communication to get His message across. Lastly, we need to be ready to receive the message because we have asked God to speak to us through circumstances.
Have you ever told someone you were ready to listen and then you did not listen? Not good to do to God. Not if you want God to reveal His will for you.
Regularity of time with God is a good idea too. A person who asks God for Him to reveal His will every three or four months is not going to get many messages. Daily time for listening to God is best. Frederick B. Meyer says “Be still each day for a short time, sitting before God in meditation, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the truth of Christ’s indwelling.”
Dr. Willard reveals his practical approach to God’s voice. After spending daily time with God asking for a word, he does something unrelated to his prayer time; working in the garden, doing errands, housework. This takes his mind off of the need for a word and it puts him into a confident mode of thought. Instead of worrying about not receiving a word, he carries on, with the idea that God will contact him if a message is forthcoming. God commands us; we don’t command God.
“If nothing emerges, I am not alarmed. I set myself to hold the matter before God as I go about my business and then confidently go on with my life” [Willard, 200]
It is important to note that Dr. Willard does not shift into a mode of ignoring God. He still listens for God’s Word or voice. He just figures that God will speak to him when He wants to. It is funny to hear him admit that God “slips up on me” from time to time. When he least expects it, God will share an idea.
I have to admit that some concerns that we take to God are more serious than others. A person who is trapped in a burning car needs a way out. A mother who is losing her son to a disease is in a dire circumstance. A man who is in a failing marriage and is being tempted by a very available woman [not the wife] is in a tense situation.
Dr. Willard says God will always speak to the “mature disciple” and give direction if “serious harm would befall people” if He did not speak.
A key here is the word mature. Mature Christians have a working relationship with God. They have a regular time to spend with the Lord. They put themselves before God and ask Him to use them to do His work. It is not always “give me this or give me that.” Too often, immature Christians approach God with a “what have you done for me lately” attitude. Mature Christians give to the Lord, their time, talent and finances. They are before God constantly and they have ready open ears to listen for the Lord’s directives.
Dr. Willard says it best in his words “It is much more important to cultivate the quiet inward space of a constant listening than to always be approaching God for a specific direction.”
So what do we get from this first answer to the first question?
Go before the Lord and ask Him for direction. Be open-minded and let God use whatever means He wants to deliver His message. Be patient and know He does not have to answer your prayer or give you a word until He wants to. Be persistent in listening to the Lord, even though it may take awhile.
Wear the knees out as you go before the Lord at a regular time every day.
Dr. Willards says copy Dr. Dobson’s prayer down and read it. That’s really practical. Here is another tip.
Get knee pads.
You will need them.