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By Connie L. Peters
Special to The PREVIEW
Prayer is two-way communication.
God not only hears you, but you can hear Him.
In other words, prayer is a conversation.
Did you ever talk on the phone with someone possessing the gift of gab and you were tempted to step out to see if they noticed you were gone? Or with someone who answers with grunts or one-syllable words? One-sided conversations make you feel unappreciated. A good conversation is like a tennis match with back and forth exchange. Sure God wants you to talk to Him, but He also wants you to listen to what He says.
How does God speak to His people?
The Bible: II Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” The Bible holds thousands of promises to depend on, one being Jesus.
Jesus: Hebrews 1:1-3, says, “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 … He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” What’s God like? What is His will? What is His plan? Look at Jesus.
Holy Spirit: In John 14:26, Jesus says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Just like people communicate to God in a variety of ways, the Holy Spirit is creative in the way He communicates. To get His point across, He can use the following:
Art (divine and human). Creation: Romans 1:19, 20, Psalm 19:1-4. Works of past and contemporary artists; God called Bezalel by name to help with the temple. “And he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship.” (Exodus 35:31)
Music: “Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” (Colossians 3:16)
Stories: The Old Testament tells stories like Abraham and Isaac, which illustrate God sending Jesus as a sacrifice. In the New Testament, Jesus teaches in parables. And, of course, modern day stories are also powerful ways to hear from God.
Object lessons: Jesus teaches about prayer using the stone and snake in Matthew 7:8-10. The poem “Footprints in the Sand” is a contemporary example.
Writing (yours and others): As David wrote the Psalms, God spoke to David. If you write your prayers, when God speaks to you, you will have something tangible as a reminder.
Other Christians: God didn’t intend only for church leadership to speak to a group of Christians. (I Corinthians 14:26)
Dreams and visions: (Acts 2:17), Yes, He still does!
Repetition: (John 21:15-17) Look through the Bible and notice repeating themes, such as love, forgiveness and obedience.
A word of caution: Use wisdom in discerning the Lord’s voice. Make sure what you “hear” lines up with scripture, seek godly advice, and continue to pray until you receive that “gentle knowing.” If you’re too flippant about God’s voice, you may miss His will, steer someone astray or misrepresent the Lord. If you consider every thought God’s message, you won’t be taken seriously, to put it nicely.
Finally, “… draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8) Develop an ear for the Holy Spirit. When you need direction, He’ll guide you. When you’re depressed, He’ll encourage you. When you’re in trouble, He’ll help you. When you’re stressed or worried, He’ll give you peace. When you’re tempted, He’ll shape you into the image of Christ. When you have questions, He has answers. He’ll also set you as a “watchman” to pray for others.
Develop your spiritual ears. Give God the respect He deserves by listening to His voice and doing what He says. Motivate yourself to pray, listen and obey, and your life will become a great adventure.
A call to faith writers: meet our team of faith writers. For details, go to http://bettyjslade.com/BJS/Writing_Opportunity.html. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.