By Daniel Bramlett
A question I get often is “What does it look like to hear from the Lord?” Or “What does God say when He speaks to you?” I would like to work towards answering these questions for this article, but first let me address the more general topic of whether or not God speaks to us.
The Bible is filled with instances of God breaking into time and space for the purpose of communicating with His people. Many methods have been used to accomplish this. In the Old Testament God used a burning bush, natural affects such as fire or rain, direct answers to prayers that we would call miracles, and then just His voice. Many times the last was the method of choice. Whatever the means, the message was always clear. No one walked away from an encounter with God wondering what it was He was trying to communicate with them. In the New Testament the means of communication got much clearer. Now the voice was connected with the person of Jesus. When God spoke people not only heard Him. They saw Him! After Pentecost God continued to speak to His followers, most of the time through the means of the Church. Again, no one wondered what He wanted when God spoke to them.
I do not think it is a debate as to whether or not God will still speak to His followers today. Nothing in the Bible indicates that His line of communication was shut down after the cannon was closed. I talk to and read stories about people all of the time who have heard from the Lord. I am one of those people.
The first time I remember hearing a specific word from the Lord I was 17 years old. It was not a mystical, hyper emotional moment. I was sitting in a worship service and I heard a voice say “I want you to preach my Word.” I knew exactly what He had said and I knew the moment I heard the words that it was God. Over the years there have been a few other moments when the Lord spoke the exact words I needed to hear in the exact moment I needed to hear them. One time during a particularly hard period of my life I heard the affirming words of the Lord, “You’re doing good, son.” I wept. Another time Laura and I were in the middle of a court struggle for two of our foster kids. We were distraught. One morning as I was getting dressed I heard the Lord say “You will make it through this.” I wept again. More often I know the Lord’s leading through the compelling work of the Spirit. I have learned over the years to listen to the quiet urging of the Spirit to say something, do something or go somewhere. He is never pushy, but His invitations are always good for me and those around me. The Lord loves His people and He is always working for our good and His glory. It is worth the time and work to learn to listen to Him!
People often say to me “The Lord just doesn’t speak to me like He does you.” This is a lie and a very bold one at that. The Bible is the primary way God speaks to us. John calls Jesus “The Word.” That is, Jesus is the living, breathing Word of God. The bound book that we have all held and read from time to time is just as much the Word of God. In fact, when it refers to itself the same terms are used: “living, breathing, active, able to cut and penetrate.” The Bible is written to speak the very words of God into our lives today. Read it and you will be surprised how relative and experiential it is.
I say that to say this. When you are seeking a specific word from the Lord about a specific circumstance and you spend an extended amount of time in the Bible and in prayer, you will hear from God. I will promise that. That time is not a quick exercise and it is not for the flippant, but I can promise if you seek the Lord you will find Him. He does not play Hide & Go Seek with us. The problem is many times we are seeking an experience and not an encounter with the Lord. We are seeking a goose bump memento, like a high we got at a concert or a feeling during a particularly moving sermon. The Lord is not a ride at Six Flags, nor is He a Coke machine. You cannot buy a ticket, get in a line and be guaranteed a divine loop-t-loop. You cannot put in 50 cents and get to choose the Word you would like to hear. If you want to converse with the Lord you must come to Him on your terms, wait on His timing and learn to listen for His voice. This begins with the Word. Come to the Jesus found in the Bible. Just simply read it. Don’t read about it. READ THE BIBLE. Pick it up, look at the words, and contemplate their meaning. There is no substitute for the Word of God.
Does God still speak today? You tell me.