When was the last time you heard a word from the Lord?
It might have been this morning, or last week; last month, or last year. Or maybe you can’t remember when last you heard a word from God. Admittedly, a lot of us just don’t think about it – or we think that “a word from God” is a concept for people in a different church than ours.
In reality, however, God has a word for you, as for me. If you’re curious about this idea, try this: open your Bible to a passage – one that you know or one that you don’t know, it doesn’t matter – and read it through, aloud, pensively and prayerfully. Sit in a relaxed but poised posture. Listen to the passage carefully. Then, keep a couple of minutes’ silence. In that time, ask God to highlight for you a particular word or phrase from that passage of Scripture that he wants to share with you.
Once you have a sense of that word or phrase, read the passage again, and again keep a brief silence. Ask God to speak to your heart about the word or phrase that he gave you, in terms of what relevance it has in your life. Then read the text a third time, and ask God what he wants you to do with the relevance of that word or phrase – how you should act on it.
I’ve been practising this method of Bible reading all week, and God is surprising me with some of the words he has spoken to me – words that have both challenged and encouraged, words that have had remarkable relevance for my life and ministry, despite the fact that the passages were not ones I chose, but were appointed for me.
This is definitely not a perfect method for hearing from God, nor is it the only method; there may be times when you come up ‘dry’ in this practice. But you will have spent time in the Scriptures, which can never do any of us harm!
Consider these words from the longest-winded Psalmist of all, in Psalm 119.57-59: “You are my portion, O Lord; I have promised to obey your words. I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes” (NIV).
How do we seek God’s face, but through his Word? When you read the Bible, don’t just do so out of custom or because you think you ‘should’. Read it to hear from God. Linger in the text. Don’t be afraid to read it more than once. Enjoy God as you read his Word, because he wants you to hear from him!