Have you ever prayed that God would speak to you in an audible voice? I have.
I’m always amazed and impressed when people tell me God spoke to them audibly. Not through a dream. Not through circumstances. Not through someone else. Not through a warm sensation in the middle of the gut. But audibly, as in “burning-bush-God-speaking-to-Moses audibly.”
When people tell me of their audible experience from God, I think that’s wonderful, and I don’t question or doubt their claim. All I know is that it hasn’t happened to me . . . yet. And, quite honestly, it might never happen. The question I ask myself is, Am I okay with that? Am I less of a Christian if I never physically hear the voice of God?
When I journeyed across Spain on the Camino de Santiago, I prayed every day—EVERY day—that God would speak to me. I had several hours of alone time with God each day as I hiked the Pyrenes Mountains and crossed the arid plains of the Meseta. I prayed, “Lord, reveal yourself to me. Speak to me. I want a vision of you. I’m not asking for a vision for ministry but a vision of you and your presence in my life.”
Chirp-chirp, chirp-chirp. Silence. Nothing.
I can’t say my prayers bounced off the ceiling, as the sky was my ceiling. I believe God heard my prayers. And I believe God cared about my simple request.
So, what was it then?
Over the next month, as I prayed that daily prayer, I began to notice something happening to me. I began to sense that I was changing and that God was speaking through the still, small voice of his Spirit. I just didn’t hear it audibly.
Here’s what I discovered: I needed to slow down and be in a position to receive rather than always be on the run and expect God to speak to me on my terms and in my time. God will not be manipulated or squeezed into my agenda and timeline. If I am still before the Lord, over a long enough period of time, the distractions of this world begin to fall away, and I begin to “hear” his still, small voice. Not physically but spiritually.
As I prayed, and as I walked, God was shaping me more than speaking to me. Erwin McManus says, “God shapes his will in us far more than he speaks his will in us” (The Last Arrow, 178).
When God spoke to Elijah, it wasn’t in the strong wind. It wasn’t in the earthquake. It wasn’t in the fire. It was in the sound of a low whisper, which, in order to hear, one must be completely still (1 Kings 19:11-12). The Psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
I encourage you this week to practice the spiritual discipline of quietude. Turn the volume down on your stereo. Step away from the noise. Do your best to find time daily to pause, be still and listen. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll hear the sound of a low whisper, not with the ears of the flesh but with the ears of your spirit.
The Trappist monks practice this Latin phrase, “Fuge tace et quiesce.” Live in solitude, silence and inner peace.
Don’t fret about hearing God speak his will in you. Simply let him shape his will in you for his glory and purposes. Amen.