Whispers

I have been thinking a lot about what Bill Hybels calls “whispers” – nudgings from God.

How can I know what God wants me to do?  How do I know how he wants me to change?

I read about how great Christians – in this era and in past ages – have heard the voice of God – sometimes audibly and sometimes in other ways.

There seems to be a definite pattern: The people who hear God are the people who seek him continually.  A great example is the prophet Daniel.  He prayed to God three times a day.  Sometimes he fasted and prayed for very long periods.  And God spoke to him dramatically through angels and visions.

Along with praying regularly, Daniel repented of his sins and the sins of the people.  His repentance wasn’t a half-hearted “I’m sorry” followed by another round of sin.  His repentance was genuine and thorough.

It’s easy to get discouraged when you read about Daniel.  My natural reaction is: “He was special.  I can’t match Daniel.”

But, I’m increasingly convinced that it is possible to live a life like Daniel’s today.  In fact, many people are living lives like him now.

The secret is keeping my mind on Jesus, listening to him, and praying in the Spirit (Romans 8:26,27).

I have tried this in the past but only sporadically.  But for the last two weeks I have been doing this much more consistently.

What is listening?  And what is “praying in the Spirit”?

There are a variety of scriptures that indicate what these phrases mean.  However, there is not enough evidence to support one particular view over another.

I believe listening involves silently focusing my mind on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), picturing him in my mind and actually making the effort to listen.  A man I know does this for an hour every morning and recieves Jesus’ “whispers” during the day – knowing that God is speaking to him and giving him guidance.

As for “praying in the Spirit”, it could mean speaking in tongues as some say or it could simply be pouring out your heart to God silently.  Whatever way you do it, you are saying to God: “I don’t know how to pray in some situations.  But your Spirit knows my needs and the needs of those you want me to pray for.  I will get out of the way and let the Spirit who lives within me, pray in my place.”

I believe this fulfills what Paul recommends in 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “Pray continually.”

Since starting doing this two weeks ago, I have found my mind and heart being changed.  When my mind is focused on God, I don’t have time to wallow in my sins.  And somehow I am more available to be used of God.

I am looking forward to seeing how God will change me as I continue along this path.  I realize I will need the Spirit’s power to do it because I am weak.

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