This morning in my daily devotion I’m reading from 1 Chronicles 14 where King David is fighting the Philistines. In preparation for the battle, David inquires of the Lord about strategy and God answers very specifically: “Do not attack them straight on. Instead circle behind and attack them near the poplar trees. When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the poplar trees, go out and attack!” (NLT).
I don’t know about you, but throughout a lifetime of inquiring to the Lord, I’ve never been given such a specific and detailed answer. Yet, this type of communication was commonplace for David and many others as recorded in the Old Testament.
God speaks this clearly to believers throughout the New Testament too. A good example is the back and forth conversation between the Lord and Ananias in Acts 9. God’s instructions were very detailed: “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.” Acts records Ananias’ response to these instructions and God’s reply to his questions too.
I believe God still speaks to us today. Scripture explains He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 18:8, Mal 3:6). He speaks to us through general revelation, such as what we observe in nature and from history; and, He speaks through special revelation as recorded in Scripture.
Worship and prayer are both powerful ways I hear from God. Worship is the cornerstone of my spiritual life. Many days I wake up in the morning with a song running through my head and heart. I’ve come to wonder if this is the Holy Spirit helping to prepare me for the day ahead. Prayer is also a huge factor in my faith life. I’ve found that prayer quiets and heals my soul, or as Ole Hallesby so powerfully writes, “prayer is the breath of the soul, the organ by which we receive Christ into our parched and withered hearts” (Prayer, 1936, p.14).
God speaks to my heart during personal devotion time and through the preaching of the Word too. These are aspects of his special revelation, which require me to faithfully attend to the habits of reading the Bible and attending church. I’m constantly amazed at how often these activities seem to overlap and confirm each other. For instance, when a passage I’ve studied during the week just happens to be a key component in the pastor’s Sunday message.
Meditating along the ocean shore or hiking through a nature preserve become holy places where He will reveal something new about His faithfulness and strength to me. Soft as rain, these gentle whispers create a new thought that causes me to suddenly see situations in my life differently. In the “be still and know” solitary spaces, God is near and always leading me forward.
Finally, and probably most profoundly, I hear from God through the relationships we form in this life. Within the context of family and friends, I learn of His faithfulness, compassion, and enduring love. As I wipe away my children’s tears, I know that God also wipes away mine. Not only can I understand His patterns and purposes deeply through these vital relationships, but my desire for His presence also deepens. When earthly relationships bring pain and disappointment, I run to the Creator to be healed by His unconditional and steadfast love.
How do I hear from God? Oh, I hear from him in so many beautiful and powerful ways. I may not be the recipient of full conversations as the saints of old, but His presence fills me, heals me, and guides me daily. He is imminent and He is faithful. I just need to be quiet and listen.
Special note: A pastor friend invited me to participate in a discussion answering the question: how do I hear from God? This post will be featured as one of five bloggers examining many sides of this topic throughout November. You can access the entire conversation here.