One of the things Mike and I have learned in counseling couples is that no matter how long they have known each other, most likely they really don’t know each other. Past experiences and preconceived ideas add filters which altar not only the way we speak but also the way we are perceived when we speak. It’s vitally important to make the effort on a daily basis to truly communicate with your spouse and loved ones. One of the skills we teach is how to ask the right questions at the appropriate time. Instead of knee-jerk reactions, which normally lead to disasters, each person should listen, process, question, and then respond. In so doing, it is possible to know the heart, character, and motivation of the speaker without any negatively fueled filters interfering in the communication process.
The same is true in our relationship with God. After nearly 20 years of teaching on prayer, I can emphatically state that if we do not know God, then we will not hear His voice. People who have not taken the time to study His character, ways, and words will always miss Him when He speaks. Even worse, they will most likely put false words in His mouth. I have a lesson entitled, “I didn’t say that,” saith the Lord.” Here is an example from that lesson: “My god told me that because I am happy with this other person, then it is his will that I leave my spouse. Because marriage is important to my god and he doesn’t want me to be hurt again, then he also told me that we could now just live together.” That is NOT the God of the Bible speaking. Sorry to be so blunt but I’m certain this sinner is not the one person that the Almighty God will change His character to appease.
For all true seekers eager to know God intimately and hear His voice clearly, here is a short outline of prayer strategies to implement into your daily time. I promise if you will begin to listen with an open heart, meditate on His Word, ask the right questions, then you will know how to respond when you hear Him speak.
- Pray daily. Find a place where you can be alone. Turn off your phone. Begin by telling God you are here to know Him more intimately. Ask that He open your heart, eyes, and ears. Ask also that He expand your mind. (For when He speaks it will always overload our feeble brains.) Praise Him for who He is and what He has done and will do.
- Use a prayer journal to list your requests. But don’t just tell God what you want Him to do with each request. Ask Him to tell you what is on His heart.
- Have your Bible open and begin reading where you left off or where He leads. Read until He stops you by impressing upon your heart a word, phrase, or verse. Be pre-warned, this may take time. You cannot rush the Almighty God. If you are not already in-tuned to His voice then you can be easily mislead by your fleshly desires and the enemy’s tactics. Therefore ask for discernment. Always seek confirmation making sure that what you ‘heard’ lines up with all that is recorded about His character. God’s ways and His Word will not be contradictory. I often ask Him to give me a verse for each request that I can then pray back to Him. Remember; if you want a yes answer to your prayers; always pray what God wants.
As you learn to wait upon the Lord, keep in mind that you cannot make Him speak to you. He is God and you are not. He speaks only when it is most effective to you and to the cause. Know also that He is far more interested in your heart than the words of your prayers. Really! He will be reading your heart and if He sees something that will interfere with His perfect will; then He will begin a refining process before He answers your request. Let’s say, you are praying for more money to meet your financial needs. God knows that you: have not been trusting Him with your tithe, that you are not content with what He has already given, or maybe that you don’t understand that this present financial crunch is His will to teach you to depend more fully on Him. You’re asking for a money blessing and He’s giving you passages about His goodness, faithfulness, and your need for trust. This is when a believer will often get frustrated and declare God is uncaring. Therefore they determine it is time to seek the money their way. Again, another example of how dangerous it is when we don’t know the One to which we are communicating.
Can you think of a time when you moved ahead of God because He just didn’t seem to be saying what you expected Him to say? Will you share what you learned?