Meditation and Learning to Listen
Explore what Christian meditation is, and how hearing Gods voice is crucial for disciples of Jesus to practice.
What is Christian Meditation?
Christian meditation is reflecting on God, on His character, and on His Word. It is the prayerful reading of the Bible with our ears open wide, and pondering on it. (Isaiah 30:21; John 8:47; John 10:27). That is why meditation requires a quiet place and time. In Psalm 1 we read that the one blessed of God is he who delights in the law of God and meditates on it day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2).
Meditation involves detaching ourselves from the controlling and hindering influences of the world and attaching to the living God through Christ to experience the sufficiency of the Savior and reach out to a hurting world in need of the living Christ. Meditating on the Word of God and responding in obedience, will give us success and make us prosperous (Joshua 1:8). Psalm 143:5 says: I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.
How often do we take quality time to meditate on God, his goodness, faithfulness, and His Word?
Learning To Listen
Time and patience are important elements of effective meditation. Effective meditation requires a quiet place and time. Meditating on the Word, internalizing and personalizing it, is a crucial part of Disciples of Christ. It becomes part of the means by which we can bring every thought captive to Christ. In Psalm 119, we read that the Psalmist meditating on the Word of God beyond circumstances:
V. 15: I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways
V. 23: Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees
V. 27: Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.
V. 48: I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees.
V. 78: … but I will meditate on your precepts.
V. 97: Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
V. 99: I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.
V. 148: My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.
In the same way we need to meditate on the Scripture day and night and respond in the way it glorifies God.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14). Again Psalm 104:34 says: Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; as for me, I shall be glad in the Lord. From these two verses, it is clear that there are times when our meditation can be unacceptable and displeasing to the Lord. So we need to understand the word we are meditating on well and respond to it according to what the Holy Spirit revealed to us. In such a way our meditation will become acceptable and pleasing to the Lord.
The importance of hearing God
Intimate friends always listen to one another to understand each other. The same is true in our relationship with God.
Learning to hear God is essential to knowing Him (1 John 5:14-15; Matthew 7:7; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; John 10:10-11, John 10:27; 1 Kings 19:11-12). We must develop the habit of stillness in order to have an intimate relationship with a living God (Psalm 46:10). We can’t hear what God is speaking when there is a loud noise inside of us. Jesus said, “Enter into your room and shut the door” (Matthew 6:6). When we shut that door, we get direction about how to proceed in the midst of what’s going on. We must practice being present to God. We are to wait on Him, worship Him, and recognize that we want Him, not His blessings; we want Him, not the experience of Him speaking (Psalm 63:1-5).
Hearing God as practice
Hearing God’s voice is not optional. It is one of the marks of the disciples of Jesus (John 10:4-27; Luke 10:38-42; Luke 11:28; Proverbs 4:20-22; Joshua 1:8; Isaiah 48:17-18). If we are longing for a close relationship with God more than anything else, we will better be able to hear His voice and obey Him (Matthew 6:33; Philippians 3:7-10; Revelation 2:1-4). If we are not living in complete fellowship with God, we will never hear Him (1 Kings 19:11-12). Knowing God’s voice comes from having an intimate relationship with Him. Wherever we are & whatever we are doing—working, reading God’s word, driving, cooking, praying, doing any routine thing—we should have the attitude of, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9). There were people of God who had intimate relationships with Him & heard His voice even in the darkest times of history (Luke 2:25-26).
To hear God clearly, we must live in a habit of meditation upon His Word. We must immerse ourselves in the Word of God, filling ourselves with it and letting the Living Water wash our minds and cleanse us of the world’s distractions. As we grow in hearing His voice, we deepen our relationship with our heavenly Father.
How does God Speak to us?
Does God really speak to us in our generation? Absolutely, He speaks to us in many ways (Job 33:14-18). He speaks through creation (Psalm 19:1-2); dreams (Genesis 20:3); visions (Acts 11:4-9); Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17); angels (Luke 1:5-38); an audible voice (Exodus 3:4; Matthew 17:5); and ultimately through Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-3). God speaks through people (Acts 9:10-18); sometimes He speaks through people who may not be believers. He sometimes speaks through animals (Numbers 22:21-35), circumstances, and open and closed doors of opportunity. But we need to confirm what we think He is speaking by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Since God never contradicts Himself, the Scriptures help us to confirm what God is speaking to us in many different ways.
We are called to walk by faith that comes from hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). God’s love, joy, and peace in our hearts are some indicators that we are hearing and obeying His voice (Isaiah 55:12). We recognize His voice only if we know Him (John 10:14). The better we get to know Him, the more clearly we recognize His voice. In our prayer life, it is crucial to hear His voice and to be led by the Holy Spirit in what to pray and how to pray (John 17:3; Romans 8:26-27).
How can we hear Gods’ voice?
As His children, God wants to speak to us directly, even if He speaks to and through His people. If we have an intimate relationship with Him, hearing His voice is as natural as hearing our best friend talk to us. Sometimes He speaks to us in a still small voice, and sometimes He speaks dramatically through wind or earthquake or fire (1 Kings 19:11-13). If we want to hear His voice, we must walk in complete fellowship with Him and be attentive to His voice. As Oswald Chambers says, “The voice of the Spirit of God is as gentle as a summer breeze—so gentle that unless you are living in Complete Fellowship and Oneness with God, you will never hear it.”
Do we remember the story of the little boy Samuel? There was no word from God in the land at the time when Samuel was a child. The priest Eli was a tired old man who had let his children get out of control. During that dark time, Samuel’s mother gave him to the tabernacle to serve the LORD. One night when he was falling asleep, he heard someone calling his name. He jumped up and ran to the high priest and asked, “Did you call me”? That tired old man remembered something about how God speaks. He told Samuel, “Go back, and when you hear that voice again, say, ‘Speak Lord, your servant hears’” (1 Samuel 3:4-14).
That is how Samuel began an incredible career of listening to the voice of God and being a navigator for the nation of Israel through those terrible days. As Samuel matured, God whispered and Samuel heard Him (1 Samuel 9:15-17).
What are your experiences of hearing God?
What changes do you need to make to hear God’s voice more clearly?
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