I have been so blessed and encouraged by our children these last couple of weeks! On Wednesday nights we have been discussing listening to God. Each week we practice spending time in prayer and learning how to have a two-way conversation with God. I love how each time the kids just expect God to speak to them, and a lot of the times He does!
But, over the last six weeks each child has experienced a time when they have be unable to hear from the Lord. This can be discouraging and confusing. So we have made it a point to talk with the kids about why this happens and what to do when it does. As parents, it is our job encourage and train our children to speak to God and hear from Him. I know I have grown so much in my understanding of prayer, and I hope you will too as you talk about this with your own children.
Recently I have been reading John Eldredge’s book Walking with God. In it he writes about what to do when we don’t hear God. I want to share with you some of His insights. But first I need to let you know what is going on in the situation. John is supposed to be home writing but instead he is obsessed with finding his lost watch. He prayed that God would show him where it is but instead of doing what he was supposed to be doing, he is wasting time looking for the watch.
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Okay, So I pray, “God, you know where my watch is. Where is it?”
Silence. I don’t hear anything.
I don’t know why. But I’m not going to let that be the verdict on my relationship with God today. This is really important, friends. We don’t know on any given day all that’s playing into why we can’t seem to hear from God. It could be that I’m still too distracted, obsessed with finding my watch myself. It could be that the enemy is blocking me. It could be that he wants me to discover something else- like why I am so obsessed with finding my watch when I don’t need it and I really should be writing. I don’t know all that’s going on.
But I do know this: it can’t be the verdict of how I’m doing with God or how he feels about me in this moment.
Hearing from God flows out of our relationship. That relationship was established for us by Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1) Whatever we might be feeling, we do have relationship with God now, because we belong to him. And our relationship is secure. (Romans 8:38-39)
Because we do have relationship with God secured for us by Jesus Christ and all he has done, we can now grow in developing that relationship. We can, on the basis of what is objectively true, move into an experience of God in our lives that deepens over time. And that includes learning to hear His voice. Prayer not as making speeches to God, a one-sided conversation, but as the act of talking to and hearing from God. A two-sided conversation. It is a rich inheritance we have.
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We can hear from God because Jesus is in us and He talks and hears from His Father. God gave us the Holy Spirit to mediate between us and God. (John 14:15-21) Whatever we ask in God’s will, He promises to hear us and answer us. (Matthew 7:7-11, 21:22; John 14:13-14, 15:7-16 and 16:23-24)
Sometimes we don’t get an answer. Why?? This is a question that all of us will ask at some point in our lives. The kids and I brainstormed different reasons that I would like to share with you today.
1. You are not actually listening. Your conversation with God is more of a one-sided conversation than two. We have to pause long enough to hear God’s voice.
2. You are distracted while you pray. You are allowing your mind to wander and you are not quieting your mind. (We live in a world of 1,000 distractions! This takes lots of practice to overcome and making sure you are creating an environment that sets you up for success.)
3. You already have your answer or God has already said no. Sometimes when we don’t like an answer or we are too scared and we want a different answer so we keep asking hoping that the answer will change. (Parents, can you relate?) 🙂
4. Satan may be blocking the answer from getting to you. Remember that God answers your prayers as soon as you pray them. But there is always a spiritual battle going on and sometimes things have to be taken care of in the spiritual realm to get the answer to you. (See Daniel 10 for an example)
5. God wants you to wait for a little bit before you have that piece of information. Maybe other things have to fall into place before you can see or hear God’s answer. Praying for patience to wait for God’s timing is a great thing to do.
6. Maybe God wants you to focus on something else at this time. It may be a good question, but God wants you to work on or do something else right now and save this for later. Praying that God shows you what His will is for you today will help you know and understand what is for now and what is for later.
7. Is it even necessary for you to have the answer to this question? Maybe you need to take a step back from the situation you are facing and not be so involved. Maybe it is too difficult for you to understand and God wants you to stick to the basic truths: “God is faithful. God loves you. God knows what is best for you. God can turn everything into good if we let Him.”
8. Maybe it isn’t good for us to have an answer. God does not want us hurt or wounded. Sometimes we might not know everything because He is protecting us from future hurts.
9. Maybe the time has already passed and we need to move on. Instead of wanting to understand everything maybe we need to ask God what our take home message is and then ask Him to help you let the rest of it go.
10. Maybe God gave us the answer already, but we did not see it. Maybe there was a thought, idea or word, but we thought it was a coincidence or something unrelated. Ask God to open your eyes to see how He is working and answering our prayers. God often works in ways we do not expect.
These aren’t the only reasons on why we don’t hear the voice of God but they are a few. Listening and hearing from God takes practice. Just like it takes practice to be able to understand your spouse or family member. Over time we begin to understand how those close to us think or respond. The more time we spend in a two way conversation with God the better we will be able to hear and understand the ways He speaks.
But you have to fully understand and believe that the reasons you do not “hear from God” is not related to how your relationship with God is going or how much He does or does not love you!!
God loves you unconditionally. God deeply desires to speak intimately with you and will do it each and every time you ask. But it takes time to develop this relationship to the point where we hear clearly. Just like it takes time to communicate effectively with your spouse or children.
The best thing that you can do when you don’t hear from God is to keep praying, keep asking. Have faith and believe that God’s Word is true and you will know what you need to know exactly when you need to know. I pray that we intimately know God. That we hear from Him and we walk in all that God has called us to do and be.
We’d love to hear from you! How have you and your kids heard from God? Please share your answers to prayers so that we can all be encouraged that God is alive and is working inside each and every one of us!!!