Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai… (Jonah 1:1).
This phrase, “the word of the Lord came to…” is repeated quite often throughout the Old Testament. As a child, I remember praying and asking God for His Word to come to me as it did to Jonah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and so many other prophets in Scripture. I wasn’t asking God if I could be a famous prophet, just asking Him to speak to me in a real way. And, He did. Now let me quickly caveat that by saying when God speaks personally to you or me, it doesn’t carry the same weight of authority as when He spoke to Jonah. Jonah’s message was recorded in Scripture and is universally authoritative. When God speaks personally to you or me, it’s not a message to be added to the Bible, and it’s not authoritative for all people at all times. It is authoritative for you or me.
Having gotten that out of the way, I’m often surprised by the number of believers who’ve never heard God speak personally to them. No, I don’t mean in an audible voice. I’ve met a lot of Christians who’ve never had a personal interaction with God. They can’t point to a time when they personally felt God’s presence or that gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit, or when they had two-way communication with God.
I think the reason for this is we often don’t recognize God’s voice when He speaks. He speaks, but we don’t hear it as God talking to us. We believe in God, but we don’t have a conversational relationship with Him. Learning to recognize God’s voice is similar to learning to know anyone’s voice. Remember those days before caller id? I could tell who was on the other end of the phone just by the sound of their voice. Why? Because I spent time in conversation with them. It’s the same with God.
I could write a whole book about this, but these blogs are supposed to be short enough to read in one minute, and I’m already over that! Plus, a great book has already been written about this very subject. It changed my prayer life and my relationship with God, and I recommend it highly. It is Hearing God by Dallas Willard, and you can get it for $10 on Amazon. If you use RightNow Media (free for all LakeView folks; contact the church office for more info), you can watch Dallas Willard teach through the book.
My prayer for us this week is that we’ll take a quiet moment to listen to God and that His Word will come to us as it did to Jonah. When He speaks to you, make sure you heed what He says!