19th July 2019

July Prayer Devotion


Hearing God
God, being God, can speak to us in a number of ways: through His voice (
Isaiah 30:21
,
John 10:27
),
His Word (
Romans 10:17
,
2 Timothy 3:16-17
), His Son (
Matthew 7:24
,
Hebrews 1:1-2
), and through
the Holy Spirit (
John 14:26
,
16:13-15
,
Acts 8:29
).
He can speak through Christian friends and faithful preachers (
1 Corinthians 2:12-13
,
1 Thessalonians
2:13
), creation (
Romans 1:20
,
Psalm 19:1-2
), and by giving us guidance and instruction (
Psalm 32:8
,
48:14
,
73:24
).
But our loving heavenly Father isn’t some kind of celestial chatterbox. He chooses to tell us what we
need to know when we need to know it; doing so in a way that’s most helpful to us, and is true to
His Word.
Nor will He keep communicating with us if we have no intention of listening — or obeying! So it’s
important we heed His still small voice (
1 Kings 19:12
) and the inner conviction He so graciously
gives us.
An Irish Christian I once knew told the story of how he used to leave his office by the same route
each day to reach his car. One day, however, he felt God prompting him to go a different way — one
that was less direct and would take longer.
It didn’t make any sense to him but, keen to avoid the possibility of being disobedient, he took the
long way round. A few seconds before he reached his car, there was a massive explosion. If he’d
arrived at the car park any earlier, he’d have been caught in the blast and probably died.
However, because subjective inner impressions can sometimes be wrong, the most reliable way to
hear God is clearly through His Word. Regardless of the way He chooses to reveal Himself, God will
never contradict what it says in the Bible, and any message we receive will always be for our eventual
blessing and His glory.
How many of us, having been through a particularly difficult period, whether it’s bereavement,
unemployment, ill health or a failed relationship, have heard God ‘speak’ through a particularly timely
church sermon?
In one case, a series of talks about having a ‘small faith’ (
Luke 17:6
) contrasted Christians who, due
to devastating or debilitating circumstances, now had ‘small’ or ‘little’ faith, with non-Christians who
didn’t have any assurance whatsoever. Later, an embattled couple stood up in church and explained
that the sermon series had been a spiritual lifesaver.
A quick tour of the Bible shows that, through the ages, God has used a variety of ways to communicate.
He conversed with Adam in the garden (
Genesis 3:9-12
), told Noah to build an ark (
Genesis 6:13-22
),
used a vision to promise Abram a son (
Genesis 15:1-4
), appeared to Moses in a burning bush (
Exodus
3:3-6
), spoke to Jacob and Moses face to face (
Genesis 32:24-30
,
Exodus 33:11
), talked to Balaam
through a female donkey (
Numbers 22:28-30
) and communicated with Jonah when he was
swallowed by a big fish and lost the plant that originally sheltered him (
Jonah 1-2
,
4:6-11
).
In the New Testament, Zechariah and Mary received a life-changing message from an angel (
Luke
1:11-20
,
1:26-38
), while the Magi were directed by God through a star (
Matthew 2:1-2
).
Joseph, like his Old Testament namesake, was shown what to do through various dreams (
Matthew
1:20-24
,
2:13
), though Matthias was added to the 11 apostles by using lots (
Acts 1:26
).
Although Jesus’ disciples and contemporaries could hear an audible voice (
Matthew 17:5-5
,
Mark
1:10-11
), as did Saul and his companions on the way to Damascus (
Acts 9:3-7
), Ananias received a
vision which directly related to Saul’s (
Acts 9:10-12
); an experience similar to that of Cornelius and
Peter (
Acts 10:3-20
).
The One who spoke the world into being is a divinely effective Communicator — the above examples
showing just a few of the ways He’s communicated with His people.
The living Word, in His infinite love and mercy, has used a host of meaningful and creative ways to
convict, challenge, exhort, warn and guide.
His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways, His ways (
Isaiah 55:8
). So, like the Berean
Jews in
Acts 17:11
, we need to check everything alongside Scripture as we seek to follow our Saviour
heart and soul — listening for His voice in any way that’s consistent with His Word.
Response

How do you hear God ‘speaking’ to you? List the ways you experience God’s guidance and consider
the last time you ‘heard’ His voice. If it was some time ago, why not pray for fresh guidance,
reassurance, challenge or reproof?

Do you need to make an important decision and aren’t sure what to do? Turn to the Bible for
direction, recall the wisdom and principles laid out in Scripture, pray with friends, seek godly advice,
and pursue God’s will through prayer and fasting.

Re-read the story recounted by the Irish office worker during The Troubles in Northern Ireland,
then consider how important it is to heed God’s prompting. What might have happened if he
hadn’t? What can we learn from this?
list end
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