What Does God Sound Like?
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching
and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
As I watched the horse, I did my best to keep my sobs hidden from the others who stood nearby. This was an intimate moment because God was speaking and I wanted to keep the conversation between the two of us. We had been asked to disperse throughout the camp where we were staying and listen for God to speak to us through nature. Through that tame, fenced in horse the Father was reminding me of my identity and shed insight as to how I had been living this past year domesticated and corralled by fear when I was meant to be roaming free.
It was a much needed word.
What does the voice of God sound like? The answer is crucial when a group of leaders gather for a retreat and the only real agenda is to hear from God. A lot of pressures and questions can arise. Questions like, “What if I don’t hear anything?” or “How can I know if what I’m hearing is really from God?” I can’t speak for everyone but I wanted to share few ways I heard God speak this past weekend.
As previously stated, I heard God speak through nature (Psalm 19:1). He used a white horse as a picture of what my life had been for the past year and what He was inviting me into this year.
I heard God speak through His Word. The Elders have talked about the ancient practice of lectio divina. It is different than just reading the Bible for information. It is reading for intimacy. It is reading slowly and engaging our God given imagination (It is amazing what God can show you when you surrender your imagination to Him.*) Alan led us through a powerful meditation of Psalm 23 and sent us out to practice lectio divina on our own. I prayed and read through Acts 2:42 (Which I posted at the beginning of this blog). The Lord reminded me I am called to be sustained through His Word (the Apostles Teaching), His People (Fellowship/Breaking Bread) and His Presence (Prayer). I realized that I tend to lean into one of these while neglecting others. I’m called to embrace and be listening for God in many different places.
Lastly I heard the voice of the Lord through the fellowship of leaders that came on the retreat. As we were seeking God’s direction for the church, Milan led us to pray that we would come to a place of “indifference” as a group; meaning a surrender of our preferred outcomes to God. From that place we broke into small groups and shared what’s on our hearts concerning the church. What was particularly fascinating was the fact that, when we came together as a whole, there was one key thread that was mentioned in all of our groups; the need for relational discipleship. God used a collective of people with different backgrounds and personalities to communicate a common message.
I believe there are four things necessary for hearing the voice of God.
To hear God is to be listening for Him. This requires a surrendered heart. Are we willing to hear whatever God has to say in whatever way He wants to communicate?
Are we willing to be honest with God and others regarding where we are at spiritually and emotionally?
Are we trusting God to speak if we are seeking Him?
- Lastly I believe it requires discernment.
Discernment means recognizing what’s right and true just as much as it means recognizing what is false.
Too often I think we are quick to dismiss what is right and true because it doesn’t present itself in the way we expect. I want to challenges us to be listening for the voice of God in the places we least expect. If I can hear God communicate with me personally through a horse, a bible verse and a few of my brothers, how might He be speaking to you?
Written by Ben Sadler
*Unlocking Creative Identity by Roma Waterman Copyright 2016 Ark House Press