As a new follower of Christ, I was taught that prayer was “simply talking with God.” Being a communicator at heart, I loved being able to tell God my daily needs (as many people do, even those who don’t know Jesus). Along the way, I learned a prayer model known as A.C.T.S.: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. But in all honesty, it seemed like the A.C.T. part was something I moved through quickly to get to the most important aspect of prayer—Supplication (or the ASK, which might have been a more honest title for the way I prayed!).
Then surprisingly, after walking with the Lord for several years, one day as my prayer time was ending a very clear (and unexpected!) response popped into my mind. Could it be that God was answering the question I’d just been asking him moments before? Because I’d been taught that God only speaks through scripture, I wasn’t sure that what I was hearing was from the Lord. But James 3:17 describes the wisdom from above as pure, peaceful, full of quiet gentleness, and that was the tone of the voice I was hearing. That day I realized that prayer could be more than a monologue where I talked to Jesus and expected him to listen; it could actually become a sacred dialogue where the two of us talked with each other.
Decades have passed, and today I work with a team in Novo called Prime. We train leaders around the world in five expressions of movemental prayer—Worship, Intercession, Strategic, Healing, and Prophetic. In each of these, hearing God’s voice is central to knowing how his Spirit is leading and birthing new movements of the gospel. One of the privileges we have is helping folks hear the Lord speaking to them, and since the Bible uses the phrase, “God said,” 1200 times, the issue isn’t actually whether the Lord is talking to his people, but rather… are we listening?
I recently taught a group of young professionals from a church in Dallas how uncomplicated it can be to listen to God’s Spirit, how straightforward it is to distinguish his voice from our own (or the voice of the enemy), how advantageous it is to posture our hearts so we can hear him clearly, and how imperative it is to eliminate roadblocks that keep us from hearing his voice… so that our whole lives become what Dallas Willard calls “an intermittent, ongoing conversation with God.” Afterward, the group broke into triads and listened to the Lord, first for themselves, then for one another. Sure enough, God spoke some profound truths to many hearts, and that day I heard stories about how people had heard the voice of God for the very first time! Some in the small groups sensed the Lord saying the same things over one another, and everybody seemed hungry for more. Praise and excitement abounded, and it looked like a mini-revival had broken out before my very eyes!
As I train people, I often share that there are many ways and reasons God speaks to his people, not merely to tell us what to do next in our lives. He primarily talks to us because he’s invited us into an eternal love relationship with himself, and all intimacy requires two-way conversation. But whether he’s talking with us to draw us closer to himself, or because he wants to heal us so we look more like Jesus, or to help us minister and bless others, or just to give us direction as we partner with him in bringing his Kingdom to earth, hearing God speak is a tremendous spiritual birthright we’ve been granted by the Lord himself. He is the initiator, the pursuer, the starting point. That’s why it’s imperative to have ears to hear what he’s saying—not just for ourselves but also for the world around us. As Novo’s president, Sam Metcalf says, “Historically prayer has been one of the essential components of any gospel movement,” and as we in Prime train people to pray with authority, the potential impact and contribution to the mission of God around the world is extraordinary!
1. As you read through the reasons God speaks to his children, which one draws you in?
a. Deepening your relationship of love and intimacy with the Lord
b. Becoming whole as you’re transformed into the likeness of Jesus
c. Ministering to others and blessing them
d. Receiving direction as you partner with God in bringing his Kingdom to earth
e. Getting discernment to make wise decisions
2. When you think about your own “intermittent, ongoing conversation with God,” circle any of the following you long to experience in your life:
a. How uncomplicated it can be to listen to God’s Spirit
b. How straightforward it is to distinguish his voice from our own (or the voice of the enemy)
c. How advantageous it is to posture our hearts so that we can hear him clearly
d. How imperative it is to eliminate roadblocks that keep us from hearing his voice
3. Do you have any points of resistance, fear, or barriers preventing you from stepping into a more interactive relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? If so, write them down now. Then sit in a quiet place, imagining yourself in a peaceful setting; picture Jesus next to you. Once you see that in your mind’s eye, talk to the Lord about these fears or barriers, and listen to what he has to say. Remember his promise: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Myra Perrine and her husband, Dan, live in Redding, CA. With a passion for intimacy with God, Myra holds a Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Formation. She has worked with Novo since 1996 coaching leaders around the world, and is the author of several books: What’s Your God Language? Connecting with God Through Your Unique Spiritual Temperament (Tyndale, 2008), What’s Your God Language? Coaching Guide, A Companion Workbook of Spiritual Exercises for What’s Your God Language? and Becoming One: Nurturing Spiritual Intimacy in Marriage.