Monday, August 18, 2008

He Still Speaks...

“Does God still speak?”
“Can I really hear God?”
“I pray but I don’t hear anything?”
“If only I heard His voice!”

The questions are endless, the quest sobering but the reality is weighty; Christians often wonder if God still speaks. For a Christian youth, the perceived perplexity that comes with hearing God is further compounded with the nature of our seeking minds. And writing about it does not come easy either; actually it’s very challenging communicating this topic in print as I later found out. Okay, I’m going to try my best to make it as practical as I can, so relax and read with an open mind.

Young people want to know everything, hear everything, touch everything, you name it. Call it what you must, but the truth remains that young people are “seeking”, “hungry”, “itchy” and “probing” people. Nevertheless, the question of hearing God often raises eyebrows and causes bright faces to drop their glow. As a young Christian, I struggled with the reality that I could hear God speak to me. It puzzled me. I often wondered, “Can I really hear God?” While I pondered this for many years, I found out I was not alone. Many young Christians find themselves asking the same questions; some for a short time, others, sadly for decades. But I soon realised it was not a question of whether or not God can speak to me; rather it was about how to hear God when He does speak.

Okay, let’s get one thing straight… God still speaks! The Bible is replete with instances where God spoke to people; the Trinity in Genesis 1:26, Noah in Genesis 9:17, Abraham in Genesis 17:9, Jacob in Genesis 46:2, Moses in Exodus 9:13, Ezekiel in Ezekiel 37:3,9, Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:4, and even in the New Testament. Remember the Mount of Transfiguration experience by the three disciples? But allow me to submit that these instances often are, in part and indirectly, reasons why young people think they cannot hear God. Why? Because we get hung up on the method God used in the Bible days to communicate with people and we forget that He speaks in diverse ways. So we only listen out for that loud voice that calls “MY SON! MY DAUGHTER!” and forget the still-small voice, the dreams God often shares with us, the inner witness of the Holy Spirit within our spirit and most importantly the Bible, which is the unquestionable, definite and authentic Word of God. Let me begin with the latter…

We beat ourselves up thinking it is impossible to hear God but God is actually asking the question, “What have you read/do you know/have you heard about me?” The surest, easiest and yet most authentic way to hear from God is to read about Him. Okay, drop those eyebrows while I rephrase my statement. The surest, easiest and yet most authentic way to hear from God is to study His Word. Read the Bible. And when you do, don’t look out for a loud voice from heaven. Rather, open your heart to His Word and receive it as the undiluted Word of God. That’s God speaking already! Listen to what Paul said about the Word of God in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

God inspired the Bible so that when you read it, He speaks directly to you through its pages from cover to cover. You hear God’s mind through His Word, just as you know an organisation’s vision through its documented mission statement or statement of purpose.

“How about prayer? I have been told that God can speak to me when I pray but I never hear His voice, instead I seem to hear my mind talking to me.”

With the above question come two assumptions: I am writing to born-again youths. Secondly, you are seeking a deeper walk with God, not merely to hear God in isolation from pursuing godliness. It is true that God speaks while we tarry in the place of prayer. Notice the emphasis; tarry and place of prayer. They suggest time and location. To cultivate the habit of hearing God when you pray, you must have a time and place of prayer. Call it your “Throne Room Hour”. Others call it quiet time. But you must isolate yourself from the world around you to spend time with God. God is not a ‘quick-fix’ God. God is not a ‘microwave’ or ‘two-minute cooker’. In this fast-paced world, God seeks diligent seekers. God delights in speaking to those that diligently seek Him for Himself, not for His gifts.

Hebrews 11:6 concludes, “he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”

Often in the place of prayer, God speaks audibly. You can hear His voice. But there are other ways to hear God. I always encourage people that as they cultivate their walk with God, they are in the best position to discover the trend by which God speaks to them. That’s true. I believe for some it comes easily through dreams, visions, audible voice or the inner voice of the Spirit. If you are building a relationship, you will give attention to every detail of it. It’s the same with God; give attention to every detail, discover how God has spoken to you in the past then watch and follow the trend. God shows me things to come and explains things that have taken place without my knowledge through dreams.

But it wasn’t until I followed the trend did I discover God was using this medium to communicate with me. Having said that, there are other ways I hear God. Maybe you hear the inner voice that gives you peace. Maybe you often see visions. Maybe you hear that audible voice both in and outside the place and time of prayer. However you hear, you are left with one more question: “How do I know if and when it’s really God?” This is a very important question for several reasons:
1. Not all dreams are from God. Ecclesiastes 5:3.
2. Not all audible voices are God’s. Deuteronomy 13:1-3.
3. The devil speaks too. Job 1:9, 2:4.
4. False prophets speak too. 1 John 4:1.
5. You can also speak to yourself when you set your mind on something.

But there is one sure way to know whether how or what you hear is from God; The Word of God. However you hear, always check whether the dream, vision or voice agrees or disagree with the Bible. The Bible is one source the devil, you or any created being or thing CANNOT discount… it is the heart and mind of GOD.

To hear from God, a Christian youth must stay close to his/her Bible. All of life’s questions are answered there; of things in the past, present and things to come. You can never go wrong when you study the Bible and determine to do what it says. Picture it this way: as you read the scriptures, God is actually saying to you, “Yes, that’s what I am saying to you. That’s My Word, My Voice, and My Mind.” When you approach the subject of how to hear from God from the perspective of His Word, you will discover that hearing His voice becomes easy.

Finally, it is important to say a word on what often prevents us from hearing God. Isaiah 59:1-2: “Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.”

Sin plagues our relationship with God, thus affecting our ability to hear His voice or receive His insight. God is Spirit, not human, and thus requires the right spiritual atmosphere to commune with His children. Sin breaks the bridge that connects us with Him. Hearing from God in every situation requires we lead an uncompromising, consistent and godly life. Then can we say confidently with Hezekiah, “LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear…” 2 Kings 19:16. Why? Because He still speaks.

*Joseph Iregbu

1 comment:

Akinyemi Eniola said...

God still speaks.
Actually, it takes a spiritually sound person to hear his voice and not only that, he doesn't just do it verbally, sometimes it is through dreams, visions,etc.
To your magazine, in this our age it is a great privilege to have people like you affect the life of youths. Especially with the "Mine" magazine and the fact that it is without a price tag will at least go a long way to help the youths that desire to "Grow" in one way or the other.