When you hear someone talk about “listening to God” or God speaking to them, you very well may be wary of such mystical-seeming language. Me and a good friend of mine were pretty put off by the phrase “prayerful listening”. It just seems weird; we pray to God and we read His Word, but we tend to make the mistake of thinking of God speaking as past tense. Sure, we will readily admit that He is active in the world, but we would also say that God spoke. What is equally true is that God is still speaking.
God has spoken
Through the Law given to Moses, through Prophets, and eventually through His Son Jesus Christ, God has spoken to us. And He has spoken to us through the Bible, which is literally “breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16).
Through the circumstances around us and the people around us, God is speaking to us. Moreover, His word has not lost relevance—He is still speaking to us through it. Hebrews describes the Word of God as “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12).
God will continue to speak
God has given us an amazing promise: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). He will not stop speaking to us—the Word of God is living and active and will forever hold encouragement, instruction, and answers for us.
You may have been surprised to find this day thrust in amongst an otherwise inspiring month on prayer. But if we continue in our traditional views of prayer, then we cannot truly call it talking to God. It is more of talking at God, the way that we do it. We tend to think that if our prayer is answered then God is responding to us and if it is not answered then He said “no”. While this is true, I think it runs so much deeper than this.
We hear what God has to say through the people and circumstances around us. This does NOT mean that if Charlie walks by you tomorrow and says, “Hey, you look great!” that God is saying that through Charlie. It does mean, though, that when we seek the advice of spiritually mature Christians that God may use them to speak to us. God uses the people around us to point us toward Himself. In fact, not just people but ALL of life is intended to point us back to the One who created us.
When we pray, we need to also be ready for God to speak to us. He may use circumstances, or people, or His Word, or whatever else. I personally do not believe that He speaks in visions anymore, so I would not suggest waiting around for one of those. I do believe that God answers prayer and that His Word still speaks to us today. We need to be ready to listen. Pray to God, pray that He would help you listen.