5 Practices to Help You Listen to God's Voice

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Last week, I wrote a little bit about my faith journey this past year and how I realized that listening to God's voice was an enormously transformative part of my spiritual maturity.

But let's be honest: This listening thing is hard.

Especially if you're an introvert like me who has a constant inner-thought life. Or if you're an extrovert who balks at the idea of a silent room.

So, everyone, really.

For the past few months, I've been taking some notes from the mystic and monastic writers to help me relearn how to pray.

Here's some of the practices I utilize to help me eliminate distractions and listen to God's voice. Once again, I am by no means am an expert and am learning how to listen little-by-little. Maybe by the time I'm 90 I'll be a professional listener, but for now, I hope that these ideas can help you in your pursuit of intimacy with God.

1. Find a place.
I've found that the best way to come before God's presence is to start with a specific space to meet with him. For me, this is my back porch each morning. It could be a specific chair in your living room or at your kitchen table. Wherever it is, there is something about having designated space that helps put you in an expectant state of mind. It's amazing how the position of our bodies can direct the attitude of our minds.

As you regularly meet with God in this space and become accustomed to hearing his voice, you'll gradually be able to meet with him on your walk, in the checkout line, or in a busy airport terminal. But don't start with these highly distracting spaces! As a kid who grew up in "children's church," I was constantly told that I could pray anywhere. While this may be true, "anywhere" may not be the best place to start, especially when it involves listening. There are too many voices vying for attention in the "anywhere," and until you know God's voice well, it will easily be drowned out. Learning to hear God's voice in the quiet helps you recognize his voice in the noise.

2. Spend time in silence.
This is probably the hardest part about listening. The good news is that you get it over with first! Let your brain wander and when thoughts, particularly concerns or anxieties, emerge, briefly reflect on them and surrender them over to God. Listen to what God has to say about them. Then let God direct your thoughts to his presence. Don't ignore your joys and pains, but set them aside for a little while so that you can enjoy uninterrupted union with God.

3. Reflect on Scripture.
Choose a short passage of Scripture to read with God. There's a time to study Scripture, but this is the time to simply meditate on God's Word. Keep the passage brief. Slower is better. Less is more. This isn't a race to read the entire Bible in a year - it's an opportunity for God to speak to you right now. As you read, notice what words or phrases stick out to you. Re-read the passage, maybe even several times.

4. Listen.
Quiet your heart and listen to what God has to say through the Scripture passage you just read. Present the key parts that stood out to you and allow God to guide your thoughts. Think about how God can use his Word to align you with his will.

5. Give yourself lots of grace.
The bad news: You will not be perfect at listening. Your mind might wander. You might get restless. You might even hate it at first. But the good news is that God will give you lots of grace.

Since God gives you grace, you can definitely give yourself grace, too.

The fact that you're even showing up and trying is "winning." So don't give up. Be persistent. Keep showing up, no matter how hard it might seem. In the words of the monastic father Brother Lawrence, “For many years I was bothered by the thought that I was a failure at prayer. Then one day I realized I would always be a failure at prayer; and I've gotten along much better ever since.”

What struggles do you have with praying? What practices have you found help you cultivate an intimate relationship with God?

1 comment

  1. Hi Christina! I enjoyed hearing you preach on Sunday and decided to look up your blog. Thank you for sharing. I’m going to try these steps to help me “listen to Him.”


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