How To Hear God's Voice

How To Hear God’s Voice

Chris Zeigler Advisors & Student Leaders, Personal Development 0 Comments

Summer is almost here and I can’t wait. I’m looking forward to warm temperatures, wearing shorts and flip flops, exploring new places and hitting the beach. Another big reason that I look forward to the summer is because for those of us in college ministry, things usually slow down a little bit and I can spend more time with God. Don’t get me wrong, there can still be quite a few commitments, but I often find that the summer is a great opportunity to set aside more time and focus on my relationship with Him.

Too often I find myself so consumed with activity that I don’t take the time I should to develop my relationship with God. King David was known as someone who was close to God. He was known as someone who spent time in God’s presence regularly and yet this is what he said in one of the psalms, “God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this dry and weary land where there is no water.” Even David knew that he had to set aside time to earnestly seek God.

There’s many ways to grow in your relationship with God. You could spend more time reading the Bible, in worship or reading books. But one way I’ve grown closer to God that has really been a blessing is learning how to better hear His voice through prayer. In our lives prayer is the grease that makes the engine go. Going through life without prayer is like driving a car without putting oil in. You won’t get nearly as far as you could.

James wrote in the Bible that, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Making space in your routine for a daily prayer time is really important and beneficial. If you don’t do this already then try starting with a reasonable goal like praying for five minutes. Once you’ve established a routine you can always increase the amount of time you spend each day.

I would suggest picking a time that you’re normally alert and don’t tend to have many other commitments. Think about a time you would normally spend mindlessly scrolling through social media or watching a TV show. Then put your phone on do not disturb so you’re not distracted. If you’re really having trouble remembering to do it put a daily reminder in your phone or determine that you won’t do something else you would never skip (like showering or eating dinner) until you’ve done your prayer time.

As you actively spend more time in prayer, eventually you can learn to hear God’s voice. It’s just like when you’ve spent a lot of time with a friend. I know my wife’s voice so well that I don’t need to look at caller ID when she calls, when I hear her voice I know that it’s her. And over time you’ll begin to know the voice of God through prayer.

It’s very rare that someone hears the voice of God in an audible way, but it can happen. Usually it sounds more like a thought within your head. Often you’ll find yourself questioning if what you just heard was your own thought or God speaking.

It takes time to determine which it is, but it’s helpful that God has given us the Bible to help us test what we’re hearing and determine if it’s from God or not. Anything that we think may be the voice of God must first align with what the Scriptures say. This is why it’s important to be reading and studying the Bible regularly so that you can go back and determine if something you’re hearing makes sense with what God’s Word says.

God has spoken some incredible things to me throughout my life. Some of the things I’ve heard Him say have been absolutely life changing. But it’s taken years of seeking God in prayer and through reading the Bible for me to clearly understand when I’m hearing God’s voice and when I’m just thinking my own thoughts. There are still times that I don’t always get it right, but for the most part I’ve learned to distinguish between the two.

It’s not easy or able to be explained in a five step process, but it is worth the time and effort to get to know God’s voice. You can grow in determining God’s voice through regular practice. Set aside time to be still, focus on Him and wait to hear His voice.

In a world where we’re used to filling every free moment by looking at Facebook or playing a game on our phones (guilty as charged) this will be incredibly difficult at first. But over time you can train your mind to focus and be quiet. God has so many things that He wants to tell you if you’ll take the time to listen. Tell God that you’re coming to Him because you want to hear His voice. This is what King David was doing when he said, “Earnestly I seek You.” And God will be so delighted when you do this because He longs to spend time with you.

Praying with a friend can also help you practice hearing God’s voice. I have a friend who I regularly pray with and when we pray we take the majority of our time to listen for God’s voice and then we share with each other what we heard. This might sound strange to you, but I’ve found that this practice has really helped me learn to hear God’s voice better. There are many times that God gives us words to share with one another.

Over the years I’ve shared words with him that have most likely been my thoughts more than God’s words, and I’m sure he could say the same, but as we’ve continued to lean into God and listen for His voice we’ve gotten better at discerning when it’s Him speaking and when it’s just us. And as the years have gone by we’ve seen words that we’ve given each other come to pass. When you see that happen, then you can confidently say that you’ve heard God’s voice and it strengthens your desire even more to keep listening for what He wants to say to you.

Even though there’s been times I’ve gotten it wrong, I don’t give up listening because I want to be someone who hears God. But this is not something to take lightly either. We have to be very careful with any word we share with others that we believe God has given us. Because our words are incredibly powerful and can have a big influence in the lives of others.

When you want to grow in hearing God’s voice it’s best to submit what you’re hearing to leaders in your life. Ask them what they think before you take it to heart or share it with another person. And remember that the Bible says anything God speaks to us for sharing with others will always be for strengthening, encouragement and comfort. If it doesn’t fit in one of those categories, it isn’t God.

When you devote some time each day to draw closer to God you’ll experience what David did. David had discovered that spending time with God was the greatest thing he could do in life. In fact, he considered it even better than life when he said, “God, your unfailing love is better than life itself. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy.”

I hope you can start setting aside time this summer to seek God in prayer and I know that as you practice hearing His voice He will speak to you and encourage you. Have a great summer!

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

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Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.

activate your prayer life

3 Practical Ways To Activate Your Prayer Life

Chris Zeigler Advisors & Student Leaders, Personal Development 0 Comments

Prayer is something we all know we should do more of, but often it gets overlooked. I always have a desire to pray more, but saying it and actually doing it are two different things.

We know that prayer stirs the heart of God. James wrote that, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” And praying is one of the best things you can do for your college ministry over the summer. So, why aren’t we doing it more? Today I want to give you some practical tips that have helped me have a more active prayer life.

1. Make it a part of your daily routine

Setting a goal to pray more without planning a way to take action is like setting a goal to get better grades without ever planning to study. If you want to pray more, then you need to carve out time in your schedule. Determine that you’re going to set aside a period of time at the same time each day to spend time in prayer.

If you don’t already have a routine in place for some of what you do throughout the day, then there’s no better time to start then now. Start with a reasonable goal like praying for 15 minutes and then you can always increase the amount of time once you’ve gotten into a successful routine.

I would suggest picking a time that you’re normally alert and don’t tend to have many other commitments. Think about a time you would normally spend scrolling through Facebook or mindlessly looking at Snapchat. Then put your phone on do not disturb so you’re not distracted.

If you’re really having trouble remembering to do it put a daily reminder in your phone or determine that you won’t do something else you would never skip (like showering or eating dinner) until you’ve done your prayer time.

2. Write out prayers

You will always have things to pray for. Even if it’s just asking God to bless your day or help you get better grades. And those are good things to pray about, but writing out prayers is a great way to be more intentional in your prayer life.

Think of something you really want to see God do this summer and then write out a prayer that you can pray every day. Praying the scriptures is powerful too. Sometimes I’ll come across a verse that makes me think, “I really want that in my life!” So, I write it out and put it in the first person so that it can become my own prayer.

Here’s an example of one I wrote from Proverbs 2:1-5.

Father, help me to treasure Your commandments. Help me to seek Your wisdom and understanding. Give me discernment that I might discover the knowledge of God. I desire these more than wealth.

Writing out prayers and praying them every day may feel a little rigid and dry, but I’ve found it to be an awesome catalyst for my prayer life. I start by using the prayers I’ve written out and then expound on them as my prayer time goes on.

I don’t usually spend all my time on the written prayers and some days it feels like I’m just going through the motions, but other days God uses them to stir my heart into greater depths of prayer. And as I’ve prayed for the same thing daily I’ve seen God responding and answering those prayers in amazing ways.

3. Create a visual reminder

I picked up this little trick from a pastor at my church as a way of reminding myself to pray throughout the day. Since we’ve been in the midst of election season it was really on my heart to pray more for our country and government leaders. I saw my pastor suggest setting something as the wallpaper on your phone to remind you to pray.

Immediately I thought, “What a genius idea!” So, I found a picture of the White House and set it as my wallpaper. Now virtually every time I check my phone I’m reminded to pray for our nation. Often it’s just a quick 30 second prayer, but overall I’m praying for our country way more than I ever did before because I have this visual reminder.

You could do this with anything you want to pray for. Find a picture of your church, pastors, a friend or family member, your BASIC group, etc. and set it as your wallpaper. You could also make it your computer desktop, put a picture on the wall in your bedroom or hanging on a desk. There are plenty of ways to give yourself a visual reminder.

Those are just a few practical ways to be intentional about activating your prayer life.

What practical tips do you have to share for activating your prayer life? I’d love to hear them in the comments below. I’m excited for all that God will do on our campuses and in our lives as we intentionally seek Him this summer!

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

Twitter

Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

Twitter

Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.

Is Praying for the Lost to Be Saved Biblical?

Jamie Sinclair Advisors & Student Leaders 0 Comments

Short answer: yes.

But what is the biblical basis? The truth is that I couldn’t answer this question quickly when I asked myself. Praying for those who are not yet born again is most certainly biblical, and we as followers of Jesus and ministry leaders should be able to answer this question for ourselves and others.

Why is a biblical basis important?

You might wonder, “Does this even matter?” And a book could be written upon this alone, but two quick reasons I think it’s important to ask whether there is biblical basis (for pretty much anything):

1. The Bible is a guide to healthy relationships and living. Maybe much of what I do is healthy, but if I’m not looking to Scripture for direction, it’s possible that I will begin engaging in unhealthy activities or fail to walk in some that are most important.

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.Psalm 119:105

2. I am a purpose seeking being; God has put “eternity in [my] heart.” I might be “doing” the “right” things, but if I don’t understand how it fits into God’s plan for me, often these things become meaningless motions. Even things like prayer and worship. And Jesus didn’t die for us so we would “do” the “right” things, He died for us so we could walk with Him. So that we could find the eternal purpose for which He’d destined us!

My First Answers

When I considered this question, the first passage I considered was in Matthew chapter nine. Jesus saw a crowd of people and was moved with compassion for them and told His disciples to pray. Ah, but for what did He tell them to pray? Not for the people but for God to send laborers to the people. This is an amazing passage with many profound lessons for us, but it doesn’t directly model or instruct us to pray for the lost. Related, sure (but indirectly).

And then I thought of other related (but indirectly related) passages that speak of prayer and how we are to be a people of prayer. There are too many to list, but in Romans 12 Paul says to “continuing steadfastly in prayer” and in First Thessalonians 5 he says to “pray without ceasing.”

But again, that doesn’t directly answer the question. What about praying for the lost to be saved? Is that biblical?

The Biblical Support

Here are three examples in the New Testament that either instruct or model prayer for the lost to be saved.

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.Romans 10:1

I began with the shortest, if you’re in a rush, here’s your answer with textual support! Paul is writing concerning Jews who have yet to be born again, and he explicitly states his prayer is for them to be saved. Thus, praying for the lost to be saved is biblical.

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.1 Timothy 2:1–4

Here Paul is writing Timothy, and he instructs him (and this applies to us) to pray for all men. Now, I hope you are reading my post critically and not just accepting whatever I write! And you might give some pushback at this moment, for is Paul saying to pray for their salvation or just to pray for them to leave us alone so we can live in peace!?

Good point. And certainly praying to be free enough from persecution for us to peacefully obey God is important, but notice where Paul lands this instruction: “[God] desires all men to be saved”. This pray includes more than just salvation for the lost but, I believe, it includes salvation for the lost.

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”Luke 23:34

Some of Jesus’ words while hanging on the cross. Jesus said this concerning those who’d beaten Him, and mocked Him, and were now calling dibs on His clothing. Is this prayer? Yes, He’s calling out to God. Is this prayer for the lost? Yes, He is referring to those who’re crucifying Him. Is this prayer for their salvation? Yes, that’s what forgiveness is, really. When we pray for someone to be saved, we are praying that they would respond by faith to receive a free gift from God. This includes relationship with God, eternal life, supernatural rebirth. But the kingpin is forgiveness of sins. Our sin is why we cannot rightly relate to God (apart from Jesus), etcetera.

What Next?

I hope you’ve been praying for the salvation of those who do not know Jesus as Savior and Lord. And I pray that this biblical basis will encourage you to continue in this, and also bring fresh life to your prayers and to you. Further, I hope you’re better equipped to lead those in your ministries.

Let’s pray!

photo credit: The Power Of Prayer via photopin (license)

About the Author

Jamie Sinclair

Twitter

Slang, theology, history, computers, politics, and more; Jamie is a guy of many interests...but living with Jesus tops them all. His life is full, simple, and crazy...and he strives (imperfectly) for both contentedness and godly ambition. He lives in Potsdam, NY where he serves his local church, working primarily with college students and young adults. You can find his infrequently updated blog at www.jamiesinclair.com.

About the Author

Jamie Sinclair

Twitter

Slang, theology, history, computers, politics, and more; Jamie is a guy of many interests...but living with Jesus tops them all. His life is full, simple, and crazy...and he strives (imperfectly) for both contentedness and godly ambition. He lives in Potsdam, NY where he serves his local church, working primarily with college students and young adults. You can find his infrequently updated blog at www.jamiesinclair.com.