I continue to ponder on the spiritual dynamic that is “hearing God.”
I am still getting feedback via my survey (I encourage you to respond as your input is helpful to me in my own reflection. If you’d like to respond anonymously, use the feedback form… it is fixed now). The conversations and opinions of those who have shared are very enlightening to me. Several additional points of meditation have been birthed out of this original “Hearing God” reflection and I plan to share some of my thoughts with hope of entering into more discussion with you, readers.
As a reminder, here are the original questions I have put up on the survey a few days ago:
- Do you “hear” God’s voice?
- What does God’s voice sound like to you? (In what ways do you hear God’s voice?)
- How often do you hear God’s voice?
While not surprising, every person who answered the survey shared their belief and experience of positively “hearing” God. I was encouraged by these responses. Also not surprisingly, almost every response shared the primary method of hearing God was through the reading of Scripture, but each person responding to the survey also listed at least one or more means by which they “hear God’s voice” other than through the reading of Scripture. This was also encouraging to me and very, very interesting to consider.
What follows is a short list of some of the ways people said they “hear from God” other than from Scripture.
- Through books and reading (other than Scripture)
- Through prayer and through guidance of the Holy Spirit
- Through Songs, Dreams, and “out of the blue…”
- Through a “quiet inner whisper”
- Through the words of others
- Through in inner “audible” voice/word
- Through circumstances
- Through creation and interaction with it (eg., gardening, observing the seasons, camping, etc.)
- Through His silence…
I realize this list is not exhaustive or comprehensive; in fact, one of the persons exchanging information with me reminded me that “there are almost as many God-experiences as there are human experiencers…” I think this is a great reminder for me; my tendency is to judge most things from my personal experience and that can create a biased noose by which my own understanding can be choked out. Even with this concession though, I wonder how often we restrict the means by which we allow ourselves to hear from God. What I gleaned from my survey is that it seems we all have our favored ways that we open ourselves to hear from God. I am curious about the ways God might speak to us that we aren’t favorable toward. I wonder if we lean too much on one or two means of hearing from God, does that dull our ability to hear from Him through other venues. While it may not be definitive, I do think we can be desensitized to the voice of God if we only look to hear from Him through our preferred means.
Several years ago I began the pursuit of truly experiencing God in unbroken fellowship. You might be familiar with the little book from Brother Lawrence, Practicing the Presence of God. This short book is actually a small collection of letters describing the life lived with God always aware of His constant Presence and communicative Being. Since first being introduced to Practicing the Presence, I have since found a number of other books and writings describing this “always-on” relationship or way of experiencing relationship with God. It is my understanding, supported by Scripture, that this depth of relationship is not only available to each of us, but it is God’s deepest desire for us to willingly enter into this unbroken fellowship with Him. I think there are quite a few examples of God’s desire for constant and unbroken fellowship with us, but the most inarguable evidence (from my perspective) is the prayer of Jesus found in the Gospels recorded by John. In this account of the words of Jesus, we find the following prayer and sentiment:
I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. -John 17:21-23
The point of this is not just to proof text a position. The point of this is to invite consideration to think of our relationship with our Creator God in a different manner. We speak of and affirm the Biblical attributes of God; one of them, omnipresence, reveals the always-present-everywhere-present nature of God. Omnipresence means there is nowhere God is not. God is everywhere. If we truly believe this, then it stands to reason that we should be able to find, see, and ultimately “hear” God in some fashion and measure in every place, circumstance, and season of life.
I cannot speak about these things without giving respect and concession to those great Christians who have experienced and written about the Dark Night of the Soul. I believe these dark nights are very real and there are seasons in our Christian journey when God shifts, moves, perhaps even changes the means by which we experience His grace and His presence. Even in the midst of these seasons though, we need remember that God is unchanging and constant. The means by which we have become accustomed to Him speaking might change. The means by which we experience His Presence might change. The means and measure in which we “hear” and “see” Him might change… but He is always Present because He is Omnipresent. He is also faithful and true and the promise He (Jesus) made to us should give us pause to consider the reality and ramification of what His words mean; read the following:
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” -John 14:15-21 NIV
I will stop here. I will ask again that you meditate and consider these words of our Savior-God, Jesus. It is true there are people who cannot see Him, cannot accept Him, and do not know Him. Consequently, I assume this means they cannot hear Him. My questions for you—are there times you cannot hear God? Are there times you cannot see God? Are there times you feel as though you do not know God? Consider the words of Jesus… perhaps sometimes it is we who are the communication breakdown. I believe that communication does not have to breakdown. If we obey and surrender wholly to the Holy One, we’ll always be able to hear, see, and experience the Oneness Presence that Jesus prayed we’d be part of…
I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. –(John 17:21-23)