There’s been a lot of noise in my head leading up to Lent. I find myself talking to God, asking Him lots of questions, but not necessarily getting an immediate answer in return. And yes, I expect to hear back from Him. No, I’m not sitting in front of my laptop anticipating an email from Jesus. Nor am I waiting to hear what I imagine to be a loud, booming audible external voice calling my name, although I admit at times I’ve heard God speak so clearly that it seems just like that. But I do believe God speaks to us and that we can hear Him if we practice listening through spending time in His word and in prayer.
God speaks through a variety of means. In the present God primarily speaks by the Holy Spirit, through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church.
In my walk with the Lord, I have learned that He speaks through His word and through people, as well as through His Spirit indwelling in me. I’ve witnessed Him answer prayer. I’ve experienced God revealing His will for my life through Scripture and even through conversations with people close to me. Prayer and the Bible are ways we can engage in conversation with the Lord. The people in our life are another way that the Lord speaks to us. Hearing God’s voice requires practice and discernment. After all, as I mentioned in the beginning, there can be a lot of noise occupying our hearts, minds, and souls.
I recently read a short book entitled “The Practice of the Presence of God,” by Brother Lawrence. It’s a magnificent little book, less than 100 pages in length, but rich in expressing the intimacy of Brother Lawrence’s walk with the Lord. Without giving away any spoilers, through reading the book I learned that the author cultivated his relationship with God through intentionally investing and devoting time to God throughout every part of the day. Brother Lawrence strived to stay in close proximity and communication with the Lord. How did he do this? Well…you can read the book.
There’s no greater lifestyle and no greater happiness than that of having a continual conversation with God.
For me, Lent is not about what we’re giving up as much as it is concerned with what our hearts, minds, and souls are focused on. And in identifying what gets our attention, we readily identify who gets our attention. Clearly, as believers, our focus should be on God, first, foremost, and always.
Leading up to Lent, through all the noise clanging away like a symphonic discordance throughout every fiber of my being, I grew increasingly aware that in our present culture, it’s easier to focus on what we’re lacking–what we don’t have–than celebrating the great things our Lord has provided. We are a culture finding it more and more difficult to praise openly and freely. It’s easier to focus on the noise. This is a problem if we are true believers in the almighty God who created the Heavens and the Earth and pulled us up off the ash pile through the redemptive work of His precious Son, Jesus Christ. You and I should be overwhelmed with praise because we have abundantly, exceedingly, and beyond imagination much to sing God’s praises for and about. Our shouts of praise should rise above the cacophony of noise.
When Jesus found himself in the desert for forty days, not eating anything, and tempted by Satan, he didn’t focus on what he was lacking but rather what he had, recognizing that in God the Father, he had everything. In spite of the noise in his head, Jesus focused on listening to His Father, rather than what He, himself, was giving up, to walk the Earth among us, His people.
The Spirit immediately drove him into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, enduring temptations from Satan. He was with wild animals, and angels were ministering to his needs.
Mark 1:12-13 (NET)
And through this journey, leading into Lent, I have grown determined to focus on praising God for the wonderful things He has done in my life rather than what I might think I’m lacking or missing. Like Brother Lawrence did centuries ago, I want to cultivate my intimacy with the Lord through staying connected to Him through prayer, His word, and expressing praise. I hope you’ll consider joining me in a genuine effort to delight in Him who delights in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
The Devotional Guy™