I never intended to hear God speak.
I didn’t even think it was possible. And besides, if I could hear God speak, I feared he would ask me to do things that I wouldn’t like. Even worse than that, if God can speak, then I had to deal with the times he’s silent.
I worried that putting God on the spot would only open me up to failure.
Worse, I worried that my faith would fail if God refused to show up when I asked him to.
I was visiting a friend and his wife, and we had just gone out for dinner. While literally walking into his house, God hit me with this message, “Pray for them!”
My first thought was, “No thanks God, too awkward.”
I kept hearing “Pray for them!”
One of the biggest questions I receive from people unfamiliar with hearing God speak is this: “How do you know it’s God?” I can only answer that it’s a bit like being hit by a huge wave. Something outside yourself knocks you off your feet.
I really didn’t want to do it. What if I started to pray and the words didn’t come? I mean, would my friends ever forgive me if I made a scene in their living room? It all seemed so… risky.
Throwing caution to the wind, I finally gave in to God’s persistent message to pray.
I may have cut my friend off mid-sentence. All I can remember is this: It really was awkward, at least at first. Once I began to pray, everything clicked. I knew exactly what to pray over him and his wife.
By the time I wrapped up, we were all stunned by what God had spoken over their lives. I was literally just the stupid mouth piece, sharing what God wanted to say to them.
Why did God choose to act in that moment? I have no clue. However, the one thing that stands out about that moment is that prayer isn’t about me and my fragile ego. It’s about what God wants to accomplish in and through his people. When I stopped doubting and started listening, I was able to actually do God’s work.
I get so fixated on what God thinks of me, what I believe
—and whether my faith can handle the possibility that God may not show up when I pray. I forget that hearing God speak through prayer is the key to knowing when to step out in faith and to take risks, especially for the sake of others.
Some days that’s unfortunately novel.
Prayer is a mobilizing force, a means by which God both builds up his followers and sends them out to do his work. I’d sadly turned prayer into a spiritual thermometer for my own life rather than opening myself to all that God wanted to say and do through me. When I finally started to hear God speak, I still resisted him because he often asked me to take risks, even if they were small risks like causing an awkward moment among friends.
Greater challenges followed.
Through prayer God prompted us to move (several times) and sent me to minister in a prison. When I was surrounded by inmates asking for prayer for their drug addiction issues, you better believe I was desperately listening for God’s voice!
Even if God sent me to places I never wanted to go, like prisons and Ohio, he met me along the way because I was responding to his guidance. He worked through me each time I heard his voice and responded. There is tremendous joy to be found in such intimacy with God that made it well worth confronting my doubts and insecurities.
We’ll never know why God chooses to speak to us at different times and in different ways. I’ve stopped fighting God’s voice and the questions it raises in my mind. I just know it happens to me occasionally.
For now, it’s enough to know that God is up to something in this world. If I want to join in, I need to start listening for that voice.
When have you heard God speak? What has God asked you to do? Leave a reply by clicking here.
This post is part of the Hazardous Faith Story synchroblog at www.inamirrordimly.com.
This week you can share your own story about following Jesus or facing the costs of discipleship by writing a blog post and linking up to my Hazardous Faith Story synchroblog. It runs all week until Saturday. Here are the details…
- Write a blog post sharing a personal story about a challenge you faced as a follower of Jesus. (You could also add: “I’m sharing My Hazardous Faith Story as part of a synchroblog connected with the release of Ed Cyzewski and Derek Cooper’s new book Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus.”).
- At the bottom of your post, link to the synchroblog landing page: http://wp.me/PewoB-SN so that others can share their own Hazardous Faith Stories (Hey, you can just copy and paste these bullet points!)
- Add your post to the link up section at the bottom of the My Hazardous Faith Story landing page. Don’t forget to read and comment on at least one other post!
- Tweet your post with the #HazardousFaith tag.
- Include this image with your post: 400 pixels or 250 pixels.
[photo: Tim Pearce, Los Gatos, Creative Commons]