I was born and raised in a Bible-believing, church-going family. We would say our prayers before going to sleep every night and say grace before each meal, thanking God that we are blessed with such good fortune. The question I have here is, after talking to God, how do we listen to God? I am sure there are probably half a million books out there on the topic, but if I just went and found one of them, I wouldn’t have the fun of putting together this post now would I?
This morning while getting ready for work, I was pondering the concept of listening to God and getting frustrated in a seemingly not ending circle of logical explanations. I sat roughly down on my bed and just plain asked…. “How do I listen to you?”…. I tell no lies, no more than 1/2 a second later, my fan propped up in my window started to slow down. My initial reaction was that time was slowly coming to a stand still and a door would appear out of no where, where of course God would step out and answer my question… but of course a quick look down to my alarm clock confirmed that we had just lost power. Coincidence?
Here are a few uneducated ideas I have…
Let’s set the scenario in a mall, I walk into a CD store and find no one working in sight… I could easily slip a CD into my pocket and be out the door within the blink of an eye, home free. But then something in my gut, my chest, and my head all start talking.
“… this doesn’t seem right…”
“… you know better than to steal…”
“… think about the people that you are hurting by doing this…”
Is this God? Is this my conscience? Does God speak through a person’s conscience?
I know if I don’t touch the topic of the Bible, at least one person will point out that it is God’s Word. Since I believe that the Bible is God’s Word, I also believe that it is one ways that God has spoken to us. But notice the past tense. God uses the Bible, but it isn’t changing. The Bible still is, and always will be a valid source of God’s Word, but it isn’t changing. I am wondering how God speaks to people in present, real time. Are we supposed to use our knowledge from the Bible to make decisions with God somehow intervening and helping us make the right ones? Is it a combination of the Bible and a person’s conscience, which is God’s tool for speaking to us?
I believe in miracles as well. I’m not saying that the power going out in my house right after asking God how to listen to him was a miracle, but is something like that an attention grabber…. or possibly coincidence? I remember going to a Christian music festival down in Kentucky for many years back when I was younger. It was called Ichthus, and you camped out all weekend long, going to Christian music concerts, seminars, skits, the whole nine yards really. It was always a blast. On the Saturday night of the Festival, the thousands of people that are present all gather in the main concert stage field for a short service. A speaker gives a little talk, and everyone (tens of thousands of people) takes communion together. I remember one year looking up to the blue sky to see just that, all blue, but one cloud… There was a cloud in the sky that was no small cloud, but very large, and in the unmistakable shape of a cross.
Prayer is a comfort. We’ve been taught from day one of Sunday School that God is love. When you pray, you are able to talk to somehow who you’ve been told has unconditional love and forgiveness. It is like talking to your best friend when things aren’t going well. When you have a dilemma, talking to your best friend, just hearing your words aloud will much of the time help bring your train of thoughts back on track. Talking out loud lets you hear yourself out loud and consider a scenario from a slightly different standpoint. Is a prayer to God the same? Talking to God, without anyone else around… are you finding solutions to problems just by giving them a different perspective… by organizing your thoughts into coherent sentences while talking to God?
I like the Garth Brooks song, ‘I Thank God for Unanswered Prayers’. But in my opinion, that is the toughest part about praying. Yes there is a comfort, but when the answer to the prayer isn’t simple like “God, Pleeeeeease let me have a bike for Christmas!” … looking, waiting, wanting an obvious answer can leave you … yes, feeling … blarged.