“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” - Psalm 46:10 (NKJV)
Many years ago, the Lord took me on an unusual spiritual journey into stillness. My normal habit was to get up early in the morning for a time of devotion and prayer. I couldn’t really call this time with the Lord a “quiet time” because my spirit was anything but quiet as I poured out my problems and the problems of people I knew before the throne of God. I had learned a couple of methods of praying and diligently followed one or the other every day. When I finished the prescribed outline, I said “amen” and went on with my day.
One particular morning though, it was as if the Lord had muzzled me. I couldn’t say anything. I sat for about forty-five minutes and wondered what was happening.
This continued for about three weeks. I simply sat before the Lord, saying nothing. As the days went on, I began to notice a change in my spirit. The stress, anxiety and anguish lessened. Peace arose within me and increased with each passing day. The Lord had reached through the inner turmoil of my life, touched my soul, and declared, “Peace, be still.”
Then one morning, I was surprised to hear the voice of the Lord. That was a new experience for me. I was reminded of Elijah in 1 Kings 19:11-12 (NKJV):
Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
When Elijah heard the still small voice, he stood in the opening of the cave and listened. I had to listen as well. The Lord still had me muzzled. For a couple more weeks, I listened, and listened, and listened. I had become still, and learned in a powerful way that He is God.
To be still is to cease from the struggle, to forsake anxiety, to draw toward our Redeemer. In the stillness, we come to know that He is God as we experience His nearness.
In my new stillness, the Holy Spirit gave me revelation, dreams and visions. God “quietly” led me into deeper relationship and deeper truth.
When I could speak again before the Lord, my prayers had changed dramatically: petition included thanksgiving, anguish led to comfort, and worship flowed.
As I studied the phenomenon of hearing from God, I learned two important lessons. The first is that God speaks in various ways. We must learn to watch, to listen and to comprehend. When our spirits are at rest in the Lord, we are open to hear His voice and to see His hand in various aspects of our lives.
The second lesson was in the value of discernment. How can I know I am hearing from the Lord? We can be assured that we are hearing from the Lord if what we are hearing aligns with the Word; therefore, the need for spiritual discernment compelled me to study scripture on a deeper level and to meditate more on the Word. We cannot know if the word we have received aligns with Scripture if we do not know Scripture.
God has further assured us that He will confirm His word by two or three witnesses (see 2 Corinthians 13:1). After all these years, I am still amazed at God’s confirmation—often from other Christians, many times from events in my life, frequently in nature, always from scripture.
I no longer follow a formula for prayer; I leave that up to the Holy Spirit. I now know that “amen” doesn’t mean that the conservation is over. The Lord and I chat all day long, and I am aware of His voice all around me, especially when I choose to quiet my heart and really listen.
For further thought:
Do I truly believe that God desires to speak to each believer? If so, am I actually listening for His voice?
Am I blocking the flow of conversation from the Lord?
Have my prayer times become a formula, or am I engaging in conversation with the Holy Spirit and responding to His leading?