Best Father's Day Gift
"My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one's whole body."- Proverbs 4:20-22
Hearing Father God speak. It can be our deepest desire and most precious treasure, but also the greatest frustration and easiest thing to give up on over time. Each of us dearly needs the Lord to speak as it relates to a present circumstance, a perplexing decision, and an overall life path and purpose. We need help knowing God is present with us, that He is guiding us in the right direction, and that He is approving of those things we put our hearts and hands to. We should be diligent in seeking the gift of His voice and for good reason. Psalm 29:4, 11 says, "The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic...The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace." It is this truth treasure, that God speaks, which causes us to seek Him. We go to prayer to hear an answer; we go to the Word to let it speak to our present life; we go to a church service in hopes that the message hits the mark of our heart; and we seek interpretation to dreams, visions, and prophetic words in order to have greater clarity.
In the midst of this, my concern is that we have become too quick in giving up and in making excuses when it comes to why we can't hear God's voice. We say things like:"I can't hear God."; "He must not care about this issue."; "There are bigger problems in the world for Him to solve."; "I have trouble staying focused during prayer."; "I must not be spiritual enough." If you struggle with any of those things, you are not alone, and I want to encourage you that your sense of spiritual hearing can be improved. The reality is that we all have the ability to HEAR. A parent can be in a deep sleep, but still can hear the stirring of a young child in the middle of the night. A person can be upstairs in their house, but can hear a dripping kitchen faucet. And even though few of us would be a professional mechanic, we can hear when something sounds off with our vehicle. If we can be alerted to these small nuances of life, we should be signaled to the Spirit leading, prompting, and calling out to us. One of the greatest examples of this in the Bible was when the prophet Samuel was a young boy. Despite being a child and in the midst of a deep sleep, the Lord was speaking to Him. After a few times of not quite getting it, finally Samuel was alerted to the fact that it was the Lord calling to him at night. This is how this God follower/fearer answered in I Samuel 3:10, "Speak, for Your servant is listening."
In the same way that there are specific disciplines and adjustments made to improve our physical listening skills, there are things we can do to better hear the Lord speak to us:
1) Become familiar with SILENCE- One of the greatest hindrances to hearing God speak is that we have made prayer a one-way communication mode. We do all the speaking, pleading, and bargaining. We provide a list of our requests and then we sign-off with an "amen". Just as we would not be talking at the same time someone is speaking to us, make room for pauses where you actively and attentively listen. Psalm 37:7 says, "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him."
2) Grow in the WORD- God has blessed us with the perfect resource to know His nature, learn His will, and receive His truth and promise. The more we become acquainted with His word and grow in our knowledge of it, the more the Spirit will speak to our today from this timeless and transformational truth. I cannot begin to tell you how many times a single Scripture or story of a person in the Bible spoke exactly to a need, problem, decision, or fear. Hebrews 4:12- "For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any two-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit...it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
3) Remove all forms of BLOCKAGE- There are several things that can hinder us from hearing God's voice. There can be too much noise coming from the outside world; there can be unaddressed sin that needs to be confessed; there can even be the fact that we already have a prescribed answer in mind based on past experience and personal preference that needs to be surrendered. Throughout the Bible we see how God wanted to speak to people, but their refusal to humble themselves and obey, led to them missing out on something glorious. Let's not allow our ears to be dull from hearing truth, promise, and love from the Father's mouth. In Matthew 13:15 Jesus quotes a Scripture from Isaiah quoting the human hearing problem, "For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them."
It is time for me to stop writing this article and for you to stop reading it, and for us to start listening to the Spirit speak!