What is it to say that God talks? How do we know that God is really speaking and guiding us as we seek to follow?
I would venture to say that nearly every believer has at some point in their walk of faith has questioned and sought certainty of God’s constant dialogue with them. Silence might seem deafening at times and the fear of abandonment or trial just too great. Hang in there, you are in good company…what you are describing has been felt by countless saints and even uttered by our Lord himself on the cross.
Not that long ago, my teenage son who had experienced a very difficult day with a friendship, and dealing with academic pressures found himself unable to sleep. Pausing by his room to say goodnight, I became suddenly aware that he needed to talk.
“Mom, why is it that when I pray I cannot hear God speaking to me? I pray every night, even apart from our family prayer…and I never hear anything back.”
“What is it that you are expecting to hear”, I ask, “an audible voice?”
“I’m not sure, he responds, but right now it’s just silence.”
“What is it that you feel…can you feel God present even if it may seem he isn’t that close?”
“Yes, but I really wish he would answer me, and help me figure out how to handle all that I am dealing with”
Smiling, “Were you just praying earlier? Have you ever considered that is why I am here now?”
Thinking of this moment today, I am reminded that perhaps we sometimes set expectations on just how God is to respond to our prayer and miss him working in the events and lives of all those around us.
Setting time aside for scripture is another way that we, if open, can “hear” God speaking to us. This past week was a beautiful testament of this! With a number of prayerful concerns on my mind last
I picked up my coffee and sat down with a few scriptural reflections for some Father-daughter time. Asking God for guidance, I opened my eyes and to my delight was a reflection on Luke 11:8-9..
“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
God was asking me not to carry these matters alone but to ask, seek and depend on him. Though I was pleased with this consolation, God was not satisfied. He underscored it with the 2nd completely distinctive reflection on James 1:5-6…
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind.”
It wasn’t enough for me to simply ask, God was telling me I needed to trust that he had it all in control. Without faith and trust, my prayers and conversation were shallow and superficial, not at all the deep friendship that God longs to have with each and every one of us.
I had hit the ground running from the moment my feet first met the floor. Scrambling to get put into place things that should’ve been done earlier I had skipped my morning reflection time. God had not given up on me though. My chosen post for Worth Revisiting was a reflection on Matthew 13:1-9, and focused on the essentials of prayer, mass, love and scripture. Quickly I had uploaded it and opened the linkup for the week without giving the post itself the needed read. That is until the Holy Spirit got my attention. Unbeknownst to me initially, my colleague Allison Gingras had also chosen that very same scripture passage to revisit. As she and I both sat in amazement, I knew that there was something God wanted me to notice in that passage and post. Then there it was, in my writing by my own hand. I had woken up without tending to my own weeds and preparing my soil adequately. “Father, thank you for your patience, persistence and humor in seeking me- when I am otherwise occupied and not always seeking you!”
Having come to the realization that all of my notes for my radio interview that day no longer existed, I was feeling quite dismayed. That is, until I turned to this reflection,
“We must always be starting again. These continual recoveries, this endless beginning again, tires and disheartens us far more than the actual fighting. We would much prefer a real battle, fierce and decisive. But God, as a rule, thinks otherwise.” — Dom Augustin Guillerand
Once again I found strength and determination to take up the task at hand, knowing that God had a purpose in the re-do, in my beginning again. Humble but reassured, I saw purpose in the work ahead.
So, how do we know when God is talking to us?
This tangible experience of his presence, which is at times overwhelming and also more subtle, is both anticipated and yet surprising. It lifts us up, reassures, comforts and guides, giving us hope when we have none. Even when we are not aware of it, God is ever present and faithful.. waiting for us to make space in our day. When we do– the more attentive and attune to the sound of His voice we are, no matter what the world throws at us. When was the last time you heard God talk?