By Lynette Hagin
“The Lord will guide you always: he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” – Isaiah 58:11 (NIV)
Last month in my column I admonished you to gear up and take your place in the Body of Christ this year—to commit to choosing God’s desires above your desires. I ran out of space, so I want to continue along those lines.
One difficulty I have seen in the Body of Christ is an inability to recognize the voice of the Lord. It is very difficult to obey God’s instructions if you do not know when He is speaking to you. Many think they are hearing God’s voice when actually they are listening to the voices of others or even to the voice of their own desires.
We must all learn to recognize God’s voice. Remember when the Lord spoke to the boy Samuel and he did not recognize His voice? (See 1 Sam. 3:1–10.) Samuel thought Eli was calling him. Finally Eli said to the young boy, “Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth” (vv. 9–10).
So how do we know when God is speaking to us? Romans 8:14 says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” And in Proverbs 20:27 we read, “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly.” When explaining this scripture, my father-in-law would say, “The spirit of man is the light bulb of the Lord. God will enlighten us—He will guide us—through our spirit.”
To be able to hear God’s voice, we must commune with Him. That does not mean kneeling down, praying, and saying, “OK, God, I need an answer for this situation,” and then expecting an immediate reply. Often we get impatient in our prayer time, make up an answer ourselves, and decide that it is God’s answer. We head in a direction or make a decision and then wonder why things don’t go well.
Let me ask you a question: how much time have you spent waiting on the Lord? David mastered the art of waiting on the Lord. Numerous times he wrote, “Wait on the Lord.” Here are two examples: “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Ps. 27:14); and “Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it” (Ps. 37:34).
In hearing the voice of God or being led by the Spirit, I have found that God speaks after I have spent considerable time meditating on the matter. To put it simply: First, I make my request known unto God (Phil. 4:6). I state my situation in simple language, just as I would when asking someone in the natural for advice. Then I begin thanking the Lord for the answer. And I add, “Lord, help me be sensitive to Your voice when You speak.”
In my prayer times after that, I spend a small portion of my time reminding the Lord that I need an answer to my request. Often when I’m getting ready in the morning or driving in the car, I will say—sometimes out loud and sometimes in my thoughts—“Lord, You know I need to know what to do. Thank You for the answer and the solution to this problem.”
Then I rest in peace. I may not have direction at the moment, but I am confident that the answer will come. I do not worry or fret about it. When I am tempted to be anxious or concerned, I simply remind the Lord that I need an answer.
That answer may come days, weeks, or even months later. I may be just worshiping and praising the Lord for Who He is and what He has done, when suddenly out of my spirit will come thoughts that are the answer to what I have asked Him. At the moment I may not even be thinking about the request. Therefore, I know that these cannot be my thoughts but the thoughts of the Lord. He is enlightening my spirit and giving me wisdom.
I trust this simple personal illustration will help you hear the voice of the Lord and recognize His leadings. As you learn to train your spirit to be sensitive to His voice, you will find that you will experience peace, knowing that you are walking in His divine will.