You want to believe God speaks to you, but you actually feel like speaking with God is a one-way conversation. You assume that He either can’t or won’t talk back. In this post, we are going to take a couple of steps deeper into hearing the voice of God, learning how to position ourselves to hear His voice in our lives.
Have you ever known someone who won’t let you speak? They fill 90% of the conversation, and then they interrupt you whenever you try to talk?
Imagine if your entire relationship was made up of just them talking! That would be unbearable! It’s not a real relationship!
Genuine relationships are a dialogue, not a monologue.
Yet, if we were honest, most of us monologue to God rather than dialoguing with him. We speak, then moment we finish, we say “Amen” and walk away.
Have you ever thought that Jesus might want to say something back to you?
Exodus 33:11 “Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”
This is the goal! To be so close to the Holy Spirit that we speak together like friends.
In the last post, we spoke about three ways to position yourself to hear from God and shared how a Buddhist monk heard Jesus!
Let’s dive a little deeper into three more principles to remember when seeking the voice of God.
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1. Wait On the Lord to Speak
Embedded in the Himalayan mountains, at the “Temple of Salvation” as the Buddhists call it, a monk prayed with me and asked the daring question, “Jesus, if You are real, will You show me?”
Then his life changed.
Immediately, he opened his eyes and looked at me in shock. “Jesus is real!” he proclaimed.
Amazed, I asked, “What happened?!?”
“I saw Jesus standing before me, and He said, ‘I am real!'”
Jesus instantly met the hunger of this Buddhist monk, who came to this village to find salvation. Jesus showed this man that He is real!
What if we never took a moment to ask Jesus to speak to us?
Notice how the breakthrough came when we postured ourselves to listen.
First, we pressed “Pause” and asked Jesus to speak, then we took a moment and waited expectantly.
Maybe Jesus would speak, perhaps He wouldn’t. (This part isn’t up to us.) What is up to us is to open the door of opportunity.
We are not responsible for making God speak. We couldn’t make Him if we wanted to. But we are responsible for posturing our hearts in a way that gives Him a chance to speak.
Notice how King David did it:
Psalm 38:15 “But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer?”
David prayed and then waited for God to answer.
Many think that “waiting on the Lord” is passive. But it is far from that!
The word David uses for “wait” is an active word. It describes a lion waiting on its prey.
Lions don’t wait for a deer to hop into their mouths. They hunt. They watch and wait for the right moment. It is very focused, very intentional, and very active. Even though a lion’s body is still, its ears are open and attention focused.
When we wait to hear an answer from God, we — like a lion — are called to “hunt” for His response.
At that moment in the Himalayas with the monk, we asked God a question and then expectantly waited to see if He would speak.
God does not always speak the second we ask, like in this monk-moment. Even so, I have learned He speaks way more often than we would first think.
More often, the problem is that “we have not because we ask not.” James 4:2-3
We cannot force him to speak. But we can trust his promise that if we seek and wait to hear him, he will give us an answer!
2. Filter Through Scripture and Godly Community
The Buddhist monk then said, “OK, Jesus is real, but I believe that Jesus and Buddha are the same. So Jesus is just another name for Buddha.”
“I don’t know if that’s correct,” I said to the monk. “Jesus spoke to you once. Let’s see if He will do it again.”
“Let’s ask Jesus,” I began, “if He is the same or different from Buddha?”
He closed his eyes and began to ask, but before he could finish the question, he interrupted himself. “Oh wow, Jesus is very different than Buddha!”
When he closed his eyes, he said, he saw Jesus shaking his head saying, “No, I am very different from Buddha.”
This is why we need community!
The Buddhist monk had an authentic encounter with Jesus! But he still had a lifetime of filters in his mind and heart. He acknowledged the encounter, but he came to a very different conclusion when that encounter ran through his filters!
A dangerous conclusion!
Imagine if, for the rest of this monk’s life, he went around saying that Jesus came to him and that Jesus is Buddha?
All of us have filters from our past, from our opinions, and even from our personalities. We can have a real, God-given moment in our lives, but it can come out very differently when it goes through these filters.
This is why we must be in Scripture and in a godly community to help clean these filters.
When the Buddhist told me his conclusion, because I am familiar with the Word of God, I was able to challenge his (wrong) automatic assumption. In the same way, it’s important to share with godly counsel what we think God may be saying to keep us teachable and correctable.
“Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” Proverbs 18:1
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors, there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14
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3. Keep Knocking
“I understand now that Jesus and Buddha are different. But I think both of them are ways to God. There are many ways to God, and both Jesus and Buddha can get you to the Truth.”
There’s that filter again.
“Well,” I thought, “This has worked twice already. So why not try one more time?”
I convinced this monk to knock on Heaven’s door again. I asked him to close his eyes and ask, “Jesus, are You the truth or is Buddha the truth?”
He closed his eyes and asked. Then, with absolute confidence, he said aloud, “Jesus is the only Truth and the only way to God.”
He was shocked by the words that just came out of his mouth.
“I saw Jesus say, ‘I am the only way to God. I am the only truth.'”
The man’s life just changed forever at that moment.
Jesus told him that He was the only Truth and the only way to God. The revelation of John 14:6 hit this monk’s heart, and he hadn’t even opened a Bible yet!
It wasn’t the first knock or the second knock that did it, but the third one finally broke something.
We must not just ask God once and then give up. Instead, we must keep knocking until we get an answer.
Jesus Himself was the One who said that we are to be like the persistent widow in Luke 18:
“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” Luke 18:7
Jesus told them this parable. “…to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Luke 18:1
Jesus’ prayer model was that of the persistent widow.
Just keep knocking!
What if every day we knocked again, expecting an answer?
These Buddhists will trek a thousand miles up into mountains in hopes of hearing from their fake gods.
Can’t we keep asking God a specific question multiple times? Then, like a lion, stay alert all day, waiting for the answer to come?
Maybe the answer will come from a friend or coworker. Perhaps you’ll be driving, and it will just hit you. Maybe that night, you’ll have a dream, or you’ll read the perfect verse in your devotional time.
I don’t know how God will speak to you, but I know that He promises that He will answer if we keep knocking.
If we want to shift from a monologue relationship with God to a dialogue, we must wait for Him to speak, bring it to Scripture and our godly community, and just keep knocking!
If God can break in and speak to a Buddhist monk who doesn’t believe, can’t He break in and talk to you, his beloved child?