Hearing His Voice Begins With “Turning Aside”
Several years ago I ministered in a church where a powerful move of the Holy Spirit caused tremendous growth because people were being saved and discipled. After one of the powerful services I saw a new convert talking to a deacon of the church. I was curious to know what they could be discussing, so I moved closer to listen. I heard the young man saying, “I’ve only been saved for a short time, and I struggle with prayer.” The deacon said, “Young man, prayer is easy. It’s just talking to God. Talk to Him like you would talk to a friend.”
“Yes, I do that,” the young man said, “but after about five minutes I’ve said everything I know to say. Yet I hear other people saying they pray for hours. How can someone pray for so long? What do they talk about?” The deacon began to explain. “First,” he said, “you need to make a list of all your friends and relatives on a piece of paper. Then you need to list everything you need from God. Then you need to list everything you can be thankful for . . . ” And the catalogue of things to talk with God about went on and on. After the deacon finished giving his advice, I pulled the young man aside and said, “Do you really want to know the secret to prayer?”
“Yes” he said, “please tell me.” I said, “I can give it to you in one word: listen.”
My friend, as sincere as that deacon was, his advice to the young convert was terrible. If that young man had done what he was told to do, I’m sure his prayer life would have been exhausted within a week. Prayer is not about making lengthy lists of requests for God and continually chattering for as long as possible. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to be quiet and listen! When I am in the presence of someone who is full of wisdom and who has many years of rich life experience, I make it a point to keep my mouth shut and listen to what he has to say, because I know that what he has to say is more important than what I have to say.
Do you think for one second that what you have to say is more important than what God has to say? François Fénelon said, “A humility that is still talkative doesn’t run very deep.” Learn to become quiet in the presence of the Lord, in a posture of humility and awe, and tune your spiritual ears to His voice. God will speak to you in this place, and you will encounter His presence as Moses did—when you turn aside and listen.