As I travel and speak in various churches and ministries around the United States and overseas, I often ponder the challenges of practicing this spiritual discipline. Is the difficulty of listening to God in the area of our hearing? Or is it in the area of our obeying? To hear accurately—even in our rush-hour worlds—does not necessarily lead to obedience.
I sometimes find myself and see others choosing to live with an acceptable level of disobedience. This certain level of disobedience is built on the foundation of choosing to disobey. It shows up in the weirdest places—like our driving, our TV viewing, our prayerlessness, our silence, our fears, and a thousand other places. It is easy in our culture to develop lifestyles that include regular low levels of disobedience and to think nothing of it. Not only do we find ourselves not being bothered by these levels of disobedience, we constantly ignore the Holy Spirit’s promptings to make changes.
It is one thing to practice the spiritual discipline of listening to God, but it is quite another to allow my passion for Him to lead me into an obedient lifestyle. If we focus only on the activity of listening, we will self-righteously develop lifestyles that do not honor God but simply honor ourselves because we choose not to obey. Listen to Jesus’ words of encouragement:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27).
It is not enough to listen dutifully. That is legalism. There is no joy in that. Real joy comes through the obedience that follows a passion for God.
Lord, I often come to You with my agenda and my thoughts without thinking of Your agenda and Your thoughts. How brash of me! I purpose to be an eager listener. I purpose to wait on You to hear and understand Your desires. Lead me into silence at the appropriate times. O God of creation, speak.
–Adapted from The Path toward Passion (Nine Disciplines that Connect Your Heart to God’s) by Dean Trune.
Praise God because “he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things” (Dan. 2:21-22). Thank God for revealing himself to you in his written Word. Confess any lack of interest or discipline in regularly reading and meditating on God’s Word. Commit yourself to a steady and balanced spiritual diet. Ask God to be your teacher, leading you to knowledge and wisdom.
Pray that God will use you to lead unsaved people out of the darkness of ignorance and rebellion into the light of his truth.
“The prime need of the church is not men of money nor men of brains, but men of prayer.” —E. M. Bounds
–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend