When faced with a major decision, members of the church community always stress the importance of praying over the decision. “God will show you the way,” they persistently remind.
If you’re anything like me, telling God what’s going on and asking for help is the easy part. Listening to what he has to say…not so much.
Some people are fortunate enough to hear the voice of God telling them exactly what they need to do. They seem to be the minority. The rest of us can easily get discouraged wondering how in the heck God is supposed to communicate back after we have confided in Him. Here are the little things I like to look for while waiting for an answer from God:
New Opportunities: This is likely the easiest message from God for me to spot. If I am praying for direction and come across a unique opportunity, I feel assured that God put that new endeavor there as an answer to my prayers. When I was looking for my first teaching job, I went to a few interviews that didn’t produce any job offers, and I had come to terms with the fact that I might have to substitute teach for another before finding my own classroom. I prayed about it and asked God to reveal his will. The next day, I got a phone call from the superintendent of a school that I hadn’t even applied to (let alone even heard of!) asking me to come in for an interview. It ended up being a great fit for me, and the bizarre fact that I hadn’t submitted an application indicates to me that it was all God’s doing.
Repetition: Sometimes when I pray, I notice repetition afterward. It may be a Bible verse or a quote that continues to arise throughout my day, or even a general theme. Over the past couple of days, I have been doing some soul-searching and prayed for God to help me find my path. Since that prayer, I have found the theme of putting God first and trusting in him in my devotionals, in today’s sermon, and in my favorite podcasts.
My Own Thoughts: The concept of listening for God can be kind of confusing. Numerous times, I have been advised to spend some quiet time each day listening for God. Undoubtedly, thoughts come into my mind during this spiritual time, but I always wonder if the thoughts that come into my mind are my own or God’s. Here is the catch: I am created by God, and the Word says that he has a plan for me. I have accepted the fact that my thoughts are God’s thoughts during this time. If they align with the Word, they are probably God’s way of communicating with me. Just like with repetition, if I can’t seem to shake a thought or an idea, I can be pretty sure it is God placing that thought in my brain.
Silence: This is the hardest answer from God for me to deal with. Sometimes, we have to accept that God’s answer will be “no” or “not yet.” If I am praying for something to happen, and it doesn’t, this likely means that God has a different plan for me. Accepting this truth can be difficult, yet freeing at the same time. It can be hard for us to relinquish control to God, but once we have the faith to trust He is steering our lives, we can be driven to live out His plan and will be blessed immensely in the process. There is something peaceful about remembering that He is in control and that we don’t have to deal with this crazy world all alone.
Want to explore more advice about listening to God? Check out these messages from the Bible.
- Proverbs 2: 1-5
- Deuteronomy 28: 1-2
- Proverbs 3: 6-16