How to prepare our hearts to hear from God
Probably every Christian wants to know, “How do I hear clearly from God? How can I be sure that what I think is His will is truly from God, and not my own wishes?” It’s a question God loves to answer. Here are some ways we can prepare our hearts to hear from God.
(See Chinese versions: 简体中文 > 如何预备用心聆听神的话 | 繁體中文 > 如何預備用心聆聽神的話)
How to prepare our hearts to hear from God
God is with us all the time. We don’t know when God will speak to us directly, but we should prepare to have a heart that’s ready to listen at any time.
Psalm 139:7-10 ESV Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
Just as we need to tune into the right radio wave to listen to a particular radio station, our spiritual antennae need to tune into God’s communication channel. There are lots of false communications waves out there, including our own daily distractions.
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
So how can we tune our hearts spiritually, in order to hear more His voice more clearly? Even between people, we hear wrongly when our hearts are not in the right place. We can end up hearing what our hearts want to hear, instead of what the other person is really trying to tell us.
1. A heart that puts God first
Sometimes when we pray, we feel unworthy of God’s attention. Other times, we may feel like we don’t know Him well enough, that He won’t bother with us. Or that we don’t have the skills to pray “correctly” and our prayers may displease Him. Other times, we are angry at what we see as injustices and hurts, and we project them onto God. These are feelings common to us all.
We need to remember is that God is much bigger than our insecurities and doubts. He wants to hear our prayers, even though we are unworthy, even though we don’t know Him as intimately as we should, even though we don’t know what to say… That is how big His love is!
Psalm 103:11-13 ESV For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
Psalm 139:4 ESV Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
Pray: “Father God, in spite of the fact that I feel (insert how you feel here), I thank you that Your wonderful love and desire for me never depend on my feelings and doubts! Help me overcome these feelings, so I can hear from you with the heart that is focused on You, and not on me.”
2. A cleansed heart
At times, the guilt of some sin we have committed weighs us down, and naturally so. The Bible tells us that when we sin, God does not listen to our prayers.
John 9:31 ESV We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.
The only way to approach His throne unencumbered is to humbly ask for His forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ. Other times, we may not be aware of things in our lives that displease God. We should muster up the courage to ask the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts and convict us of any sin we need to confess or resolve, as Jesus tells us in John 16:7-8.
John 16:7-8 ESV Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:
We are continually being set apart as holy but we are not quite there yet. So let us rely on the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and not our own, as we enter into prayer with God.
Hebrews 10:15-17 ESV For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Psalm 24:3-4 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
Pray: “Father God, I want my prayers to be pleasing to You. I confess (insert confession here). Holy Spirit, please also show me any area of my life that displeases You, so I may confess it in the name of Jesus Christ and be cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. May I approach God’s throne and listen with a cleansed heart.”
3. A peaceful heart
One of the biggest challenges in our 24/7 world is finding a way for our mind, heart and spirit to rest. Our attention spans appear to be getting shorter and shorter. Even when our bodies are idle, our minds can keep “spinning”.
We need to find a time or place we are able to remove all distractions, so as to keep our minds very still and our spirits open to hearing from our Heavenly Father. This may mean we need to block off a time in our diaries for a dedicated “appointment” with God.
Psalm 46:10 ESV “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Pray: “Father God, in the name of Jesus Christ, I put away any distractions and choose to align my thoughts with Your thoughts. Please reveal Yourself to me, as I humbly seek You, setting aside the world around me, so I can hear from You with a peaceful heart.”
4. A trusting heart
When we approach His throne with our own agendas and our own bias, we may miss hearing from God. If we care to really listen, God will often tell or show us something that is much bigger than what we can imagine or plan. Or He may reveal Himself in ways we didn’t expect. Or He may simply remain quiet until the time is right to reveal His thoughts or plans to us.
If we expect God to respond in a certain way within a certain time frame, we may be sorely disappointed because He is not limited to our views.
Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts
Pray: “Father God, I put aside my own expectations and ideas, which are limited. Please show me Your plan and purpose for my life. I know You have the best intentions for me, so I will choose to listen to You with a trusting heart.”
5. A ready heart
God is most pleased when His children respond to His voice once He has spoken. Let us not be like Gideon (see Judges 6) or Moses (see Exodus 4), who made lots of excuses when God himself revealed His will and thoughts to them. If they could only watch themselves from an observer’s point of view!
Just as Gideon’s and Moses’ stories are recorded in the Bible for us to read, our entire lives will also be in a book, just that it won’t be made of paper or digital code. Our book will be made and read by God himself! May none of us have to undergo the embarrassment of giving an account of why we didn’t respond to God positively when He spoke, when that happens.
2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Pray: “Father God, help me to examine my self-centred attitudes and choose to relinquish them at Your footstool, so I can hear from You with a ready heart.”
God wants to communicate with His children and we have the honour to be blessed by the fact that the Lord of the entire universe values us individually to speak with us. Here are three real-life stories from Christians who heard from God in ways they didn’t expect but were blessed by being obedient to what they heard. Each of their names has been changed to respect their privacy.
Adam was an architect who worked 12-hour days, frustrated that there was little time for ministry, family and personal rest. He wanted to leave his profession, and prayed earnestly to ask God if that was what he should do. Adam laid aside his own expectations and waited for God’s answer for what appeared to be weeks on end. One evening, as he was reading the Bible, he came across 1 Kings 6 which described the temple that King Solomon built in clear architectural detail. In his spirit, Adam knew this was God’s answer, which was not to leave architecture behind. Despite feeling a bit disappointed, Adam obeyed and decided not to leave his work. Over the next few days, Adam saw a job advertisement for a project manager for a new church building and had an “Aha!” moment. Adam instantly knew this was what God had planned. It turned out that Adam’s skills were perfectly matched to the role.
Late one night, Eve suddenly thought of someone whom she did not know very well and was prompted to pray for her. The prompting was very strong and Eve could not shake it off. So she prayed for this friend over the next hour. The next morning, Eve sent a message to her friend to ask if she was ok. It turned out that her friend has a very bad nightmare the night before, around the time Eve was prompted to pray. Her friend was very grateful for the prayer coverage that only God could have arranged for her.
Abel was working with a customer who was abusive and unreasonable. No one liked this customer, and neither did Abel. Abel prayed to ask God to move this customer to another company, but instead was reminded to “love his enemies” as his response instead. So Abel prayed blessings over this customer and showed patience and kindness in all his interactions with him. After several months, this customer asked Abel why he was different from other people he knew, and Abel was able to share Christ with him.
Matthew 5:43-44 ESV “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
No human being has a special ability to hear from God more than others. We must be careful not to treat someone as a “spiritual medium”. God wants to converse with all of us! So please don’t ever be discouraged from seeking to hear from God.
Some people may appear to be more vocal about hearing from God more often than us, but we too have to practice discernment if what they say they have heard is truly from God Almighty. We should be especially careful if anyone tells us something like, “God told me that He wants you to ….”. We need to seek God’s will directly from God himself, the Alpha and Omega.
1 John 4:1 ESV Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
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