Many years ago, someone shared this quote with me, and it stayed with me because it names something so deeply true to the human predicament:

“The way through the world is more difficult to find than the way beyond it.” – Wallace Stevens

Right? Whatever our age, education, or financial status, we all face questions we simply don’t know the answer to, every single day. Not theoretical questions—questions essential to our life and wellbeing, or the life and wellbeing of those we love.

God rigged the world like this so that we would seek him.

Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; so David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?” The Lord answered him, “Go, for I will surely deliver the Philistines into your hands.” So David went to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them...

Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; so David inquired of the Lord, and he answered, “Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the poplar trees...So David did as the Lord commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer. (2 Samuel 5:18-25)

David inquired. The Lord answered. Folks—the entire Bible, Genesis to Revelation, is a record of God speaking to his people. Hearing his voice is meant to be normal for every follower of Jesus.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

“I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation 3:20)

Our practical, daily experience is meant to be centered in a conversational intimacy with God—with our Father, with Jesus, and with the Holy Spirit. God rigged the world so that we really can’t thrive without this.

However, most people wait until the house is on fire to ask God about something specific. Is this the person you want me to marry? Is it time to quit my job? What am I supposed to do with my life? That’s like going to the top of a double black diamond on your very first day of skiing because you want to learn how to ski. It’s unrealistic. You can’t start there.

Hearing the voice of God—and having confidence in what you have heard—requires a quiet and relaxed posture of the soul. Far better to approach it like this...

Clear a little quiet space, because the soul needs to be in a quiet place to hear from God. At least initially.

Go into your room or out into the yard; sit on the back porch and give yourself twenty minutes. Don’t rush this. Sit down and take a few deep breaths. Then pray,

Holy Spirit, I need your help. I really want to hear from you, God. Holy Spirit, come and help me. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear. Take away the distractions, Lord. Take away the pressure. Dial me in. Dial me in, Lord.

Then ask a really simple question, something without a lot of drama to it.

Jesus—should I join those guys on the camping trip this weekend? Is that what you have for me?

Pause. Linger in silence and listen. If I’m not hearing anything clearly, sometimes I will “try on” Yes and No. Are you saying yes, Lord? Yes, you want me to go camping? Sometimes then I will hear a clear yes. Are you saying no, Lord? This isn’t a good idea this weekend? I’m really open to whatever you are saying. Is this a no, Jesus? Linger and listen.

If you’re having a hard time recognizing God’s voice, get someone to listen with you. It’s far easier to hear for someone else than to hear for yourself. The reason is simple: you’re not tied up in all the drama. You don’t have a horse in the race; you don’t have a dog in the fight. And so this is a good way to learn.

As we learn to hear God’s voice, it also helps to give it time. Pressure kills just about everything—love, joy, friendship, hearing from God. So give it some time. If I don’t hear anything right away, I’ll say something like, Keep speaking, Lord. Give me the ability to recognize what you are saying. I’m going to give this a few days (or a few weeks). Keep speaking, Father.

Why am I bringing this up? Because the way through this world is far more difficult to find than the way beyond it. And yet, even so, most people don’t practice asking God into the details of their lives and questions. It’s madness.

Some of you are comfortable with listening prayer, but you haven’t made it part of your daily practices. Maybe it’s time. If this is a new concept for you, my book Walking with God would be a great resource.

For others, this is something new. What an exciting road ahead for you! Begin to practice what I’ve suggested above; take some time to learn how to hear God’s voice!

Oh, friends, it is rescue, a joy; it is protection, and it is irreplaceable. For as Scripture says,

“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the children of God.” (Romans 8:14)

Offered as something of a loving reminder and a strong bit of counsel. Love,

P.S. Try it right now. Pause before you go on. Get quiet and simply ask Jesus, What are you saying to me today, Lord? Give it a few moments. Listen.

Download the Wild at Heart Summer September 2022 Newsletter



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About John

John Eldredge is an author (you probably figured that out), a counselor, and a teacher. He is also president of Wild at Heart, a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God, recover their own hearts in God's love, and learn to live in God's Kingdom. John met his wife, Stasi, in high school.... READ MORE

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