Stop and Take Time to Listen to God

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Stop and Take Time to Listen to God

Taking regular time to stop and listen to God is not a strong suit of mine. I do hear from God on a fairly regular basis. I know his voice and how he talks to me. Unfortunately I hate to admit that I kind of stink at being intentional about taking time to listen to God. This topic isn’t what I was going to originally write about this week. It was only because of taking time to listen to God that I decided to write about listening to God!

My notes are lost

I seem to have lost my notes for my original topic. I’m serious – I can’t find them anywhere! I searched my quiet time journal. I’ve looked through my Bible and sermon notes. I looked through my computer documents. I’ve looked through my phone notes. I even looked around for random post-it notes where I may have written some things down. Nothing. Now, I can’t even remember if I even wrote the notes down to begin with, but I could’ve sworn that I did.

After searching around frantically for my notes for well over an hour, I decided to just pray about it and ask God to help me find them. Then I remembered my quiet time about stopping and listening to God. It was about taking time to just stop and be quiet. So I decided to do that after I prayed about losing my notes.

Maybe they were “lost” on purpose

I began to think that maybe my notes were “lost” on purpose because God had other intentions of what he wanted me to write about this week. If I’m right, it’s what he’s been gently correcting me about recently. It’s about making time to stop and listen to him on purpose.

While listening, I had the thought, “Well, maybe they’re lost on purpose because I’m not supposed to write about them. Maybe I’m supposed to write about something else. I usually pray every week about what I’m going to write about, but I don’t think I did this week. I think I just decided last week what this week’s topic would be and then didn’t really spend a whole lot of time in prayer about it. Well, I guess it serves me right!” Leave it to God to conveniently cause my notes to go missing when I try to do things my way without consulting him or listening to him!

Oh, the irony

So, I got in the shower and was trying to listen painfully when another thought occurred. “Maybe I’m supposed to write about taking time to stop and listen to God. Apparently that’s what I struggle with right now!” Consequently, since I wasn’t listening to God about what he wanted me to write about, he decided that I needed to write about exactly that.

Always learning, rarely listening

I’m such a learner by heart–always reading books, reading my Bible, listening to podcasts, watching sermons and webcasts. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s a really good thing to be a learner and to always seek knowledge. However, as with anything, there should always be balance.

A woman's mind...

A woman’s mind…

With all of the input I’m not very good at all at taking time to just stop and listen. I’m always looking, looking, looking, feeding, feeding, feeding…but never stopping. I don’t take the time to just sit and be quiet. It’s actually an extremely difficult thing for my personality. I can’t seem to get my mind to stop thinking of things. It’s always running, going, and making to do lists. It makes me think of that funny meme I saw that said a woman’s mind is like a browser with 2,857 tabs open all the time!

Wisdom from Joyce Meyer

In her book, Battlefield of the Mind, Joyce Meyer says that a mind that is too busy is abnormal. If our minds are too busy and wandering all the time, we could miss what God is trying to tell us through his spirit. When our minds have been conditioned for years to roam freely, they become undisciplined. I’ve learned that it’s going to take some practice to begin to discipline my mind to stop, be quiet for a time, and listen to God. I loved a quote in the book that said, “Remember, Satan wants you to think that you are mentally deficient—that something is wrong with you. But the truth is, you just need to begin disciplining your mind.” [1]

Can I tell you that Satan’s lie had been working on me! I’ve TOTALLY had the thought that something is wrong with me because I can’t sit quietly and just listen for longer than a few minutes. And my memory lately…well, we won’t even go there!

Practice disciplining the mind

I can’t remember if it was in the book or in a separate message, but Joyce gave advice about how to start disciplining the mind. She mentioned how she had to build up a little at a time with quiet, listening periods. The idea is to start with a few minutes at first, maybe five minutes. Then build up from there little by little until you can sit with a restful mind and listen without your mind wandering.

I think I will definitely have to do something like this. It seems like painful torture to sit there quietly and not think for more than a few minutes at a time. Am I the only one that deals with this!? It feels as if my brain will explode if I have to sit there without thinking for any extended period of time. I don’t think this is the “sound mind” we are given, nor is it having the “mind of Christ” that the Bible discusses!

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

“for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16 (NIV)

Communication with God is a two-way street

I really do think that God wants us to practice being still, hearing him, and knowing him. We need to spend time with him. Communication is a two-way street. It is not one-sided. What kind of relationship would you have with people who only spoke to you but then never listened to what you had to say? I imagine it would be a very strained and one-sided relationship.

Prayer is our communication with God. All too often though, I think many of us just practice one-sided prayer. We just speak but then don’t stop and listen for him to respond. Two people can’t speak at the same time and still hear. Therefore, if all I do is speak, how can I hear? Prayer should be a conversation. Conversation is two-sided—like a ping-pong or volleyball game. If we will stop and take time to listen to God, he will reveal his plans to us and give us guidance, direction, correction, and confirmation. We won’t hear these things if we don’t take the time to listen.

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 11:15 (ESV)

“Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!” Matthew 11:15 (NLT) 

More wisdom from Rick Warren

In a devotion by Rick Warren on Hearing the Voice of God, he discussed the concept of preparing yourself to listen to God. I’m an analogy person so I loved the analogy he used for cell phone reception. He said, “We’ve all noticed that the quality of reception on a cell phone varies widely. The same is true with you. You must be positioned correctly in order to hear God speak.”

Therefore, just like we would walk around to find that sweet spot in order to hear the person on the other end of the phone, we need to position ourselves to find our “sweet spot” to hear God. This may require some physical and mental repositioning, as well as removing the “static” or distractions.

Seeing myself like John the Baptist

Recently, I was studying John the Baptist. He was said to have prepared the way for the Lord’s coming.

“The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him!'” Matthew 3:3 (NLT)

“Prepare the way” and “clear the road” stood out to me in this verse. It was as if God was telling me to “prepare the way” to hear and “clear the road” to listen to God. The road is cleared and the way is prepared by removing distractions and purposely making time to stop and listen.

Practically speaking, for me this means I need to:

  • Allow some extra time each day (probably in the mornings during my quiet time)
  • Not mess with my cell phone—turn it off, set it aside
  • Remove myself from any noisy settings (i.e. my kids!)
  • Stop wandering thoughts as they come
  • Pay attention
  • Be expectant that God WILL speak to me
  • Have a pen and paper handy to write down what I hear as I listen to God.

For me, this would be preparing the way for God to speak and clearing the road from distractions.

Now it’s your turn!

Take Some Practical Steps to Stop and Take Time to Listen to God:

  • First, make time to listen to God daily. You can listen to God anytime, but be sure to have a regular, set time. Try setting aside some extra time during your quiet time. Consider using time in the shower or drive/commute time to stop and listen.

“My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.” Proverbs 2:1 (NLT)

  • Then, position yourself to listen to God. Remember the cell phone reception analogy. Where is the best place for you to sit quietly and listen?

“Be still and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10a (NLT)

  • Next, remove distractions from listening. Find a quiet setting—this may even require hiding in the bathroom if you have children! Put any devices away so they can’t distract you. Turn off the TV and any music.

“I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.” 1 Corinthians 7:35 (NLT)

  • Quiet your mind—do not let it wander. As your mind starts to wander or thoughts start to pop up, stop them immediately. We have the ability to determine what we are thinking about. In fact the bible tells us that we can capture our thoughts. The bible also says that we can exercise self-control in our minds to be able to think clearly.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

“So think clearly and exercise self-control…” 1 Peter 1:13a (NLT)

“Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given–and you will receive even more.” Mark 4:24 (NLT)

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3 (ESV)

  • Expect to hear God speak. If you don’t really believe that he’ll talk to you, you may overlook it when he does or just dismiss it as your own thoughts.

“So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, LORD, your servant is listening.'” So Samuel went back to bed.” 1 Samuel 3:9 (NLT)

  • Finally, have a pen and paper ready to write down what you hear. It’s important to write down what you hear God say. Your notes may prove to be beneficial to you later (as well as prove to yourself that you’re not crazy and that you really do hear from God!).

“Now go and write down these words. Write them in a book. They will stand until the end of time as a witness” Isaiah 30:8 (NLT)

How do you take time to listen to God? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below.

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  1. Meyer, Joyce. Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind. New York, NY: Faith Words, 2011. Print. There are affiliate links in this post (I may get a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase).
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