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Why is it that so many Christians prank call our Heavenly Father?
Can you imagine what it must have been like when Moses had hiked all the way up Mount Sinai to find that cooky bush that just kept burning? I imagine that Moses was awe struck when he realized it was really God calling to him. So Moses hid his face and listened to what God had to say.
Let’s consider what might have happened in some sort of odd Biblical parallel universe. God calls to Moses from inside the burning bush, so Moses sits and talks at God for a good hour or two and then walks back down Mount Sinai without ever listening.
If such a thing had happened, Moses would not have known that God had called to him to go and free His people.
I see so many Christians these days who talk at God really well but never take the time to listen. At my GLBT youth Bible study this week I polled the group to see how much time a week they spent in prayer, and how much time they spent listening to and or seeking God’s will for them. I was shocked to find that 95% of the time spent with God is in prayer and only 5% in listening.
It is wonderful to pray that God’s will be done, but how do we know what God’s will is without seeking it somehow? I’m not saying that God talks to us all through burning bushes; but often times if “I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God.” (Psalms 38:15)
To speak to the Lord means to LISTEN; It is the difficult part too – but essential for communication. You need to discover how the Lord will speak to you. Whether through the written Word or by an inner “still small voice” of His Holy Spirit, God speaks to praying Christians. We must take time to listen. Listening is different from both waiting and meditating. Here we listen for direct orders from our Heavenly Father concerning the activities of our day. In order for listening to be effective though we must respond by doing what He instructs us to do. For, if you are open to His calling, to His word and to His voice – I can guarantee He will speak. You are responsible to listen.
God can speak to us in many ways. He spoke to Moses through a burning bush. Pretty flashy and cool, eh? But when the Lord spoke to Elijah it worked like this…..
1 Kings 19: 11-12:
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
I bet Elijah felt the wind and said to himself, “It’s God!, It’s God!”. But it wasn’t. Then there was an earthquake, and I bet Elijah said to himself, “This MUST be God!, this is Him”. But it wasn’t. Then fire came and I bet Elijah said to himself, “Surely this is the God of the burning bush”. But it wasn’t. Then came a gentle whisper, and it was God. Not a screaming wind, not an earth shaking quake, not a blazing inferno, just a gentle whisper.
So how do we know if what we are hearing is actually God and not Satan or even our own will? The query is posed to the Holy Spirit. Then we rest quietly, trust, and listen. If the mind drifts to other things, we simply repeat the question, “What’s the truth about this?” and listen again. Through prayerful listening, the Truth is revealed by God. Through this spiritual practice, we know the Truth.
I urge you, as I urged my youth group, to LISTEN! Listen.. Sometimes a still small Voice, sometimes a gentle Whisper, sometimes a Holy Fire.
God is there. Don’t hang up without hearing what He has to say.
Erik Stavlund of Minneapolis attends the University of Minnesota and directs the contemporary Christian music program at University Baptist Church (a welcoming and affirming congregation). He also leads GLBT youth Bible studies at a local cafe on Wednesday nights.