Our Bible verse for today: “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “We need to hear God”
In the devotional two days ago, the one where I revealed that I personally hear from God best and most often through the written Word, I also mentioned that for me, hearing from God through prayer, is only the fifth best way I hear from Him. Higher on the list was the Bible, creation, circumstances, and counsel from friends and mentors. I think I caught some of you by surprise by that and I therefore want to come back to it this morning because there’s an important reality in play that needs to be discussed.
First, as the starting place, we need to acknowledge that God wants to be known by us. He also wants to be obeyed by us so He can then bless us. In order for that to be true, He has to clearly communicate with us. Good two-way communication is vital for the health of any relationship.
In John 10:27 Jesus gave us a beautiful picture of Himself as our shepherd, and of us being like sheep who know their shepherd, recognize His voice, and faithfully follow Him. However, the voice of God is not audible for us. I’ve never known anyone who could honestly claim to have heard the audible voice of God. Instead, we “hear” Him in other ways. And as was noted in the devotional from two days ago, His primary and clearest means of communicating with us is through the Bible.
Prayer is the primary way that we talk to God, but it is not the primary way that He talks back to us. In fact, I would say that what we believe we are hearing from God in prayer is perhaps the least reliable means of hearing back from God. That’s because we tend to confuse and conflate our thoughts, feelings, and desires with the voice of God. A thought comes into our head during prayer and we conclude it must be God speaking to us. However, it’s just as likely that what we’re calling the voice of God is nothing more than our own feelings – and we have to be careful about our feelings, because they can be deceptive little boogers.
God does speak to us in prayer, but it’s a very subtle thing. That’s why we need to check and confirm what we believe we are hearing from God in prayer, with other ways in which God speaks to us. For instance, if you believe God has said something to you in prayer, immediately check it against the Bible. God will never tell you something that is in conflict with His written word. Another way to check and confirm the leading you receive in prayer is through the counsel of trusted advisors. God often speaks to us through our Pastor, or spouse, or close Christian friend. Also, as Henry Blackaby taught in “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God”, a primary way God speaks to us is through our circumstances. So, take the leading you believe you received in prayer, and see how it lines up with the applicable circumstances.
Good two-way communication is a vital part of a love relationship with God. The primary way that we talk to God is in prayer, but the primary ways we hear from God is through the Bible, words of counsel, circumstances, and yes, also through prayer (but be careful with this one).
Henry Blackaby once said, “It’s more important for me to hear from God than it is for God to hear from me.” That’s very true and so we need to learn to hear God’s voice. It’s vital to our relationship with Him. I encourage you to invest the time into learning how to hear from God.