There are several things which hinder our ability to hear from God. First, it is difficult to hear from God when there is un-confessed sin in our lives. Habitual sin renders the ears of the heart deaf to God. In any age where there is a lack of corporate encouragement to seriously deal with sin and where personal piety is discounted, hearing from God will be difficult at best. Specific verbal confession cleanses sin and opens the ears to hear the Lord.
There is often reluctance on the part of God’s people to bend their ears to God which seems rooted in a basic fear and distrust of God. I have had seminary students openly admit being afraid of solitude time there they would be one-on-one with God. What disturbing, distressing, or disheartening thing might God say if we really listened for a word from Him? Fear and distrust of God can cause people to pull back, to stay distant, and hence to miss hearing God’s still small voice. For such people learning to hear from God will have to be preceded by simply learning to know God better.
Behind and beyond the sin of distrust there is simply a void of real knowledge about the love and grace of God. We learn to hear God better by learning to know Him better. But beyond those spiritually deaf because of sin, or reluctant because of fear, there are those who really want to hear the Lord, but they are simply unaware that their hearing is hindered. Their hearts are open to hear, but at the same time their hearts are too full and too cluttered with other stuff to receive a message from God.
Gracious Father, there are so many times when I feel that my prayers just dribble off my chin and fall onto the floor! Please increase my awareness of whatever is blocking me from full participation in our relationship! Reveal my hidden sins so that I am able to repent and set my feet once again towards Christ-likeness. Fill me with a trusting heart so that I will never doubt Your ability to hear and to answer. Overwhelm me by Your great love for me through Your grace! Remove the clutter from my heart and fill me to overflowing with all that You are!
–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 31, To Whom Does God Listen? by W. Bingham Hunter). This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Read Ps. 40:1-3 and praise your Redeemer and Savior. Thank God for lifting you up out of the mud and mire of sin. Confess those times you’ve desired to return to the slimy pit of sin. Commit yourself to living in such a way that others may “see . . . and put their trust in the LORD.” Ask God to enable you to stand firm on the Rock of Jesus Christ.
Pray that Jesus the Rock will be the foundation and cornerstone of your family. Ask especially that teens you know will find a firm place to stand in Christ.
–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.