Listening to God

We know we’re supposed to listen to the Lord and let Him guide our steps, but in the grind and hustle of daily life, it can be difficult. The voices around us and our own thoughts seem to easily drown out any connection we feel with the Lord. Our daily walk with him must be founded on habits of opening our ears and opening our hearts.

Listening begins with stillness. Pausing our day and our mind to find a quiet place where the Lord can speak to us is imperative to finding our connection with Him. The Lord never leaves us, even we are in a whirlwind of busyness. In that busyness, however, we can quickly find ourselves caught up in it and lose touch with the pulse of the Spirit. We don’t have to be still all day to hear Him, but we do have to consciously practice times of stillness to refresh our connection with Him.

Listening to God requires trust in Him. If we dismiss what He says out of fear or confusion, we will quickly get out of sync with His will. Believing that we can be in tune with Him and hear His will in our hearts is vital to being able and willing to connect with Him.

Willingness to change or do what He says is the final piece of listening. Just hearing Him isn’t enough, if we aren’t putting action to His words. He is in the habit of growing people and isn’t interested in empty words. It doesn’t always mean that we are doing a physical action, but if the Spirit prompts us to stop and breathe, we need to be willing to do that as much as we are willing to do any other act or service.

Listening is the final piece of hearing because it takes the passive act of understanding what He’s saying and makes it a part of  daily life. Listening isn’t something you do once in awhile, or even once a month. It’s an active part of being with Him and walking with Him. It’s the part of seeking Him in every moment.

If you don’t feel that you know how to listen to the Lord in all your moments, start by listening for one moment. Find one time per day that you can be still and talk to Him. Practice hearing Him and responding to what He puts on your heart. From there, you can grow with Him and grow in Him until He pervades every moment.

Expecting Vs Wanting

Wanting vs. Expecting

Because of this the king was angry and very furious, and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. So the decree went out, and the wise men were about to be killed; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. He declared to Arioch, the king’s captain, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the matter known to Daniel. And Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king. Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. – Daniel 2:12-18 ESV

I was watching a business training video online today and she talked about in it the difference between expecting success and wanting success. She said, “Expecting to succeed and just wanting to succeed are two very different things, because if you expect it, you act very different and you put very different steps in motion than if you just want it. Wanting is just like a pipe dream or a wish.”[1]

Our small group is studying Daniel and a topic that we discussed last time we got together seems to line up exactly with this definition. Daniel expected God to come to his aid, so he put different steps in motion than I probably would have in his place. I believe that we can and should apply this idea to our faith, just as he did.

In chapter 2 of Daniel, we find the King Nebuchadnezzar is demanding an interpretation to a vision he’s had. When he finds they can’t meet his demands, he orders all their deaths. Daniel doesn’t know about any of this, even though he is among the ones that have sentenced to death, so he goes to the captain of the guard to learn what’s happening.

When he hears that a dream is the cause of the trouble, Daniel immediately sets up an appointment with the king to interpret it for him. Then, Daniel goes to his friends and asks them to pray for him to receive the interpretation, which he receives in a dream.

The part of this story that is about expectation is the moment right after he talks to the captain of the guard about why he’s been sentenced to death. The moment that he heard the reason, he went to get an appointment with the king. THEN, he went and got prayers. First, he took action, then he begged before the Lord with his friends.

I’m sure there was prayer coming out of him the whole time, as this was probably a very intense time for him. I’m not trying to say that we should not pray before taking an action. I’m saying that I think we should trust our relationship with God enough to know when to take an action and when to stop and pray before taking that action.

Daniel didn’t stop and ask God if it was alright to go tell King Nebuchadnezzar that he would interpret the dream. He didn’t ask God for a guarantee about getting that interpretation. He didn’t try to beg for more time or ask, “Why me?!”

What he told his friends to do was to, “seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery.” That doesn’t sound like what you ask for when you’re confident of the answer. That sounds more like asking to get the answer, which means: Daniel didn’t have the answer when he set up the appointment with the king. He had no idea what the dream was and he didn’t know the outcome of the conversation that would happen.

Daniel knew something far more important. Daniel expected God to help in his time of need, not just wishing for it. He also knew that he had to ask for it from the Lord; he couldn’t just waltz into the king’s court unprepared and expect the Lord would hand answer to him. Daniel walked the line of expected God’s answers and taking the action that happens as a result of that expectation, while still staying humble before the Lord and seeking Him in all things.

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. – Psalm 73:24 ESV


[1] Renae Christine