Prodigal Magazine

When I Started to Hear Voices

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]

About The Author

Ed Cyzewski is the co-author of the just-released book Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus. He is the author of Coffeehouse Theology, and he blogs at www.inamirrordimly.com. When he’s not writing, he’s usually pacing his house with his son Ethan in an Ergo Carrier.

  • http://www.thechurchofnopeople.com Matt @ The Church of No People

    Hey Ed, I’ve definitely been the guy with low expectations for God – just in case He doesn’t show up the way I expect him to. It kind of blows you away when He does actually speak.

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com/ Ed_Cyzewski

      Sorry for the author mix up Matt. Isn’t it great that God doesn’t live down to our expectations? Thanks for dropping in!

  • http://www.toodarnhappy.com/ Kim Hall

    What you describe is exactly my experience. There are times his voice is a whisper or the lightest of nudges. Other times, though, it is a major God smack on the back of the head that leaves you near breathless.
    Thanks for this post. It’s always good to know others share similar experiences!

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com/ Ed_Cyzewski

      I know that I really want those smacks to the head sometimes just to spiritually validate myself in some way. It’s all twisted and messed up, but I’m grateful that he still uses imperfect people like me.

  • http://www.spiritualglasses.me/ Jennifer Upton

    Sometimes a post helps me know that I am not crazy. Just this Saturday a met a precious wanderer named Patricia. I knew that God had led me to listen, and listen closely to her story. I was so blown away by her wisdom. God also led me to tightly embrace her and when I did prayer came forth and I felt God in a way that I had not in a very long time. Afterwards my new friend said with tears running down her face “I needed that hug today.” A moment not soon forgotten.

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com/ Ed_Cyzewski

      Thanks for sharing this Jennifer. This is exactly it. We feel that prompting to step out, and suddenly we realize that we’re part of the much bigger story of what God is up to in this world. The same thing has happened to me.

  • http://sandraheskaking.com/ Sandra Heska King

    I was hit by a wave while wading in the Atlantic at Cocoa Beach. It completely tore my ACL.

    Maybe I hadn’t been listening very well up until then. :)

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com/ Ed_Cyzewski

      Sounds like a Jacob experience to me! ;)

  • Mary1912

    Nice Ed. I struggle with the task of “laying down the gauntlet” for God. We are up against a rock and a hard place and I struggle with “will God come through?” Scary stuff. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com/ Ed_Cyzewski

      Thanks for sharing Mary. I find that I need to ask whether I’m really feeling prompted by God to take a step of faith or if I’m acting out of duty, guilt, or performance.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    God lets everything happen. But He does want to hear from us. He wants the lines of communication left open.

    And He does answer our prayers. Thy will, not my will be done. (that is a tough one – for I usually am after my will to be done)

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com/ Ed_Cyzewski

      So much of God working through us depends on us listening.

  • http://charityjilldenmark.wordpress.com/ Charity Jill Denmark

    How wonderful – your obedience is vital to the life of the church. Thank you.

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com/ Ed_Cyzewski

      Thanks Charity!

  • http://whatfamiliesdo.net/ Ben Patterson

    God spoke to my wife and me by saying, “Adopt four children. Here you go!” We followed that charge and have been blessed beyond our imagination!

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com/ Ed_Cyzewski

      That’s one heck of a word and quite a blessing!

  • Kris Overtoom

    This is a really good way of describing it. God speaking to me is what brought be back to Him in the first place. I had not been speaking to him in six years and suddenly, I was challenging Him on some of the stuff that was happening to me. I felt Him ask me if I had ever consulted Him with any of the situations. Then He invited me back into the family, which I gratefully accepted.

    Many years later, in the midst of being pregnant and/or nursing for half a decade, He had me pray for complete strangers whenever He led. He led me once in the London subway to pray for a woman’s friend who was facing some serious surgery. Two days later, He arranged for the two of us to meet at the Subway again, during rush hour. She told me that all the prayers for success and healing were answered and this woman and her friend were blown away that a complete stranger would pray for them. I started crying and telling her that it was Jesus that did this, not me. I was crying for happiness for them but also because God had simultaneously answered a prayer that I had been praying, namely, “God are you listening to me anymore?” because I had been going through some difficult situations and God seemed to be silent when I was asking for help. Whenever I am tempted to slip into doubts, I always remember that moment.

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com/ Ed_Cyzewski

      What a fantastic story Kris. I’m so glad you listened to God and stepped out in faith. Have you read River Jordan’s book Praying for Strangers?

      • Kris Overtoom

        I haven’t read that book. I think the Random Acts of Prayer (RAP) was God giving me purpose when all I seemed to be able to do was change diapers and clean the house and nurse babies because it is something that can be done anywhere at anytime and doesn’t require a lot of time, just listening and praying

        I checked out the book on Amazon and think I will put it on my reading list. It looks like a wonderful read.

  • http://messymiddle.com/ Amy Young

    God is in the process of speaking to me about something. It’s scary and exciting and scary and life giving and scary and …. hazardous. But I can’t wait to hear more.

  • Episkopos

    wow! God bless you for this post! What I have come to see is that prayer releases the power of God on our behalf. Jesus knew the power of prayer and thats why he spent long hours in prayer. May you always hear His voice directing and guiding you as you pray. God bless you. http://www.daghewardmills.org

  • Taylre

    A while ago God began speaking to me. At first I wasn’t sure if it was my own subconscious speaking, or God, but I eventually decided it must be God because it sounded very alien and because I don’t usually refer to myself by name. At the time I was not very close to God, and God spoke to me softly about strange things. For instance, I would be searching for a spice at the supermarket and I’d hear the voice tell me to look down. Or I would be about to say something to my parents and the voice would say “No.”. Slowly this brought me to start spending more time with God and he began to speak with me about my attitudes and about faith. But then I got busy and I stopped listening for God. And I have not heard him since.