turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Psalm 17:6 (NIV)
The question popped out of the blue as I tucked ten-year-old Josh in bed. It’s funny how creative conversations somehow happen at lights-out.
“How do you hear God talk to you?” Josh asked as I scrambled for a simple answer. “What does His voice actually sound like? How do you know whether it’s your imagination or God?” I detected a slight grin as I turned the lights back on.
I gave the standard answers: God talks to us as we read the Bible, the Holy Spirit speaks as we pray and through other believers. I reminded Josh of all the prayers God had answered for him.
“I know. But you talk about hearing God’s whispers. The Bible talks about people hearing from God. I’m worried. I know God loves me, but . . . ” Josh hesitated to say what came next. “Mom, I’ve never heard God actually talk to me. Does that make me bad? Why can’t I hear Him?”
As my son’s eyes filled with concern, I knew he wasn’t a little boy anymore satisfied with Sunday School answers. My son was on a journey of faith, and he needed what we all need: assurance that we can hear God’s voice.
“No, you’re not bad at all,” I assured Josh. “It’s the opposite. You’re growing up, son. Your friendship with God is going deeper. You don’t want to just know about Him. You want to hear God speak to your heart — just to you. In a personal way. The fact that you’re wanting to hear His voice is evidence. The Holy Spirit is in you. That desire you feel is God touching your heart. He’s speaking to you!” I said with a smile.
“Really?” Josh perked up. I told him I had the same questions when I was little. I told him we are all still learning to hear God’s voice in new ways because that’s how a friendship continues to grow.
“It’s a good and beautiful thing,” I whispered. “It means your faith is real, son. It’s alive, growing.”
I invited Josh to pray a simple, powerful prayer by telling him a story about another boy who found it hard to hear God although God was talking to him:
One night, God spoke to this other boy for the first time — Samuel! Samuel!
God was whispering his name, but it happened in an unexpected place. Back then God only spoke to priests in a very specific place in the temple. God was speaking to Samuel on his bed — a very unusual, personal place! He wasn’t wearing any priestly garments, and he hadn’t performed any rituals prescribed for interacting with God in the temple.
At first, Samuel didn’t recognize God’s voice. In fact, he kept running to Eli, the priest, thinking Eli was calling him. This happened three times. This happens to us too. We easily run from one thing to another, answering voices that demand us to do more, be more, and be busy.
The fourth time God called him, Samuel did something different. Samuel dared to listen.
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something…”
1 Samuel 3:10-11 (NIV)
Samuel gave God space to speak, and today, God is waiting to hear your invitation.
Pray: Speak Lord, I’m here. I’m listening.
I told Josh, “You will hear God speak, and prayer will become a personal experience when you are engaged in restful activity, in unique ways God made you.”
Prayer is going to look different for you than for someone else. Prayer can happen when you’re in places that bring you peace or when you’re doing something that brings you beauty and joy. Prayer is simply giving God a chance to speak to you in a personal way that is unique to your personality. And what feels restful, peaceful or what brings you joy can also change in different seasons of your life.
Create pockets of prayer by giving yourself permission to enjoy things that refresh you, to explore your love language with God. Make the time to be still and listen, where you don’t have to do anything for anyone. And as you create space for God to love on you, God’s whispers of rest will touch your heart.
“God may not answer right away, but He will.” I told Josh. “In a personal, quiet way. Just to you. God knows your love language, and He will speak.”
“What if I still can’t hear Him?” Josh asked.
“Then God will keep speaking until you do,” I smiled. “Remember? God didn’t stop calling Samuel until he heard Him.” Josh smiled as I kissed him goodnight.
Are you longing to hear God’s voice in fresh, new ways too, but you’re not sure how? Could trying to pray like others or busyness keep you from recognizing God’s loving voice? As we take time to pray for one another, be still and listen for His voice.
How can we pray for you?
Here at (in)courage one of our greatest privileges is turning to God together in prayer. Please leave a prayer request in the comments and then pray for the person who commented before you.