HEARING FROM GOD
Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
People often wonder what it really means to grow in faith. is it a feeling? Is it knowledge? Is it about more... more courage, more spirituality, more good works?
In some ways faith is simple to explain. It's living life in response to what God is saying to us. Therefore, faith is an active and relational word. It's God's children taking the next step of obedience to their Heavenly Father's instruction. So, to live by faith, which in turn grows our faith, we first need to listen.
So how do we hear from God?
Thankfully, we don't need to listen for an audible voice. God can of course speak that way if he chooses. But it's rare. The main way he speaks is through the revelation of his written word, the bible. In giving us the scriptures, we have a solid foundation for our faith, and a reference point for our decisions.
We hear God through the bible both generally, and specifically.
Generally, as we study the bible over our lifetime, we grow in our understanding of who God is, his character and the way he works in many circumstances. That strengthens the base we step off from in daily life. We don't always need a specific word or instruction to know what to do, or not do. Like in a close relationship with a spouse, as intimacy deepens, we know what God thinks about many things and we trust his heart and character ahead of other influences.
While we hear generally, God also speaks specifically to us. We need his wisdom and guidance for our lives personally, we need it in our family, in our business, and for our church. So how do we hear God speak specifically, and discern that we have heard him correctly?
The simple practice of daily devotions and regular journaling is a great way to hear God speak. His word comes through other sources too, and we always need the body of Christ for discernment, and to test and approve God's prophetic word.
There isn't one right way to journal, it's just a place to write out honest prayers, to record verses that impact you or come as a promise, and to record the key moments of God working. Think of it as your spiritual history and a way to look back on God's words and actions in your life.
The SOAP method that Wayne Cordeiro teaches in his book, The Devine Mentor is an excellent tool for discerning God's voice through scripture meditation. It works like this:
S - SCRIPTURE
After reading a passage and the commentary if using a devotional guide, write down the bible reference and summarise the passage in a sentence.
O - OBSERVATION
What is the one thing that stood out? You don't have to remember everything, or even fully understand the whole passage. The Holy Spirit usually makes one thing connect with us.
A - APPLICATION
How does the observation apply to your life or to our church? What are some action steps this word could be calling you or us to take?
P - PRAYER
Commit what you have heard God say in prayer. you might like to start by writing the prayer out, that way you can look back on it one day. If it's clear direction, ask God to give you the courage and opportunity to step out in faith. If you are not sure you have it right, ask for greater clarity, and in some situations talk to another Christian you trust about it.