When I was 5, I was sure I would be a princess. As royalty I would marry a rich prince, travel the world, wave to people and eat all the candy I wanted. I would have a closet full of ball gowns and stacks on stacks of shoes.
When I was 15, I was determined to be a world famous wedding cake maker. I loved to bake and I was sure that I would get a job decorating the wedding cakes of celebrities.
Now, as a senior in college I am not a princess or a wedding cake maker. As I grew up I realized that I could not continue to plan my life around things that could change. I decided it made sense to anchor my life in the one thing that would never change, the one thing that would continually satisfy me – seeking the will of God the Father and living my life asking for His help and direction.
Thy Will Be Done
“The world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever”
(1 John 2:17).
How do we even begin to seek His will? I get this question all the time, and truthfully I have asked it just as many times. It seems like it must be complicated, or there is a procedure that MUST be followed. There must be directions that ensure a prompt, uniform response. Right?
This is not the case and it never will be. If the Lord were able to be quantified and qualified, if He were able to be predicted with certainty, in other words if He operated like an ATM or Siri, He would not be God. Can you imagine asking Jesus, “Locate the nearest outpouring of grace and blessing in my future”? I cannot. Jesus does not work like Siri, He will not simply alert you to the nearest quick-fix or caffeine for your spiritual life.
Our Trinitarian God is a great and awesome mystery. Mysteries are fantastic because they do not grow boring. It is a beautiful and wonderful thing that God the Father does stuff his own way and we cannot know all of those ways. That means He is GOD!
So How Do We Listen?
God the Father wants you to know His will for your life. He wants you to be able to follow it. So He will tell you. He will tell you where He wants you to go, what He wants you to do.
I struggle in prayer to hear the voice of the Lord. When I have a particularly difficult time hearing Jesus speak, these are the steps I follow to dispose my heart and mind to hear Him:
1. We must desire to hear Him: We need to examine ourselves and our lives and decide – do I want to hear what the Lord has to say?
2. We must make that desire known: Pray. Ask. Pray again. Tell the Lord you want to know Him and are ready to listen.
3. Make yourself available to hear Him respond: We cannot hear the Lord’s voice, or His answer to our prayer, if our lives are overrun with the noise of the world. We need to carve out time each and every day to sit in quiet and just listen.
4. Learn what Jesus’ voice sounds like: The Lord is speaking to you all the time. That is a guarantee. We do not always hear what He is saying – because we are not listening or we have not taken the time to get to know His voice.
Did you know parents can pick out the cry of their infant in a room of babies? Their ears become attuned to the specific cry of their child. Did you know that babies can also identify the voice of their mother and father? Their specific voice has the power to calm the child.
Your relationship with God the Father works the same way. He already knows and can hear your cry. Learn to hear His voice.
Then Go. Act on His Will
Once we know God the Father is calling us to something, we must act. We must pray, but then get up and go and trust that He is blessing our decision. We cannot constantly worry – “what if I heard incorrectly” or “I’m just not sure.” Trust that the Holy Spirit will guide your actions, even as you carry out His will.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I will give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).
This is His promise to you: hear His voice, follow Him and you will have eternal life. He protects you as a loving Father does.
Pray. Listen. Then go, trusting you are doing the Lord’s will. We can go out boldly and act with confidence, because we have anchored ourselves in He who is unchanging and everlasting, Jesus Christ.
As for me, I’m still waiting for Jesus to give me stacks on stacks of shoes!