Learning to Listen: the Practice of Solitude (BONUS: Free 7 Day Guide to Solitude)
Hearing Crystal Clear
Last week, I shared about a recent time when I heard God speak to me. Literally speak to my soul. It was precious to me because it brought me peace in the midst of a scary and stressful moment. I had to make quick decisions and my mind was racing. I was the adult in the space, so freaking out wasn’t an option, yet that’s where I was headed… until I heard God speak. The fact that his words directed me, granted me peace that passes understanding in a stressful situation, and his words were aligned with all that I know of the character of God gave me confidence that the words I heard were indeed the words God spoke through the Holy Spirit living within me.
That said, I’ll tell you that I rarely ever hear actual words from God. Perhaps three times in my life, I have heard actual words spoken into my head and heart. It is far more common for me to identify God’s voice in a scripture he led me to. Or a hymn that is based on scripture. Or even a phrase, spoken by a friend, that is aligned with scripture and instantly pierces my heart. If the words that penetrate the muddle in my brain or the worry in heart are true to God’s written word and confirmed by circumstances and godly counsel, then I know that God has spoken.
It took me years to learn this. What happened at the park, hearing God’s voice crystal clear in my head, is personal and tender. I almost didn't share it with you because it's so close to my heart. It feels exclusive. But I decided to share it with you for one big reason.
I'm telling you because it's not about me.
Which means, it's not exclusively for me either.
In time, and through the practice of solitude, it has become easier to listen, to notice. The more time I spend getting to know my Creator, the more relational our conversations become, the easier it is to see and hear him when he speaks.
Hearing Through Hymns
Here’s an example from last week.
I was praying very specifically for a friend who is doing a mighty work for God’s kingdom and needed a little support. As I was praying for her, asking specifically for him to give her energy and health protection to complete her work, a hymn came to mind. I started singing the tune and the words filled the silence I had created. My time of solitude became a time of worship.
Later, I looked up that hymn. It was based on two different scriptures. One of them was Exodus 4:11. This is the moment that God called Moses to go to Pharaoh and speak up for the Israelites. Moses isn’t sure he can do it. Literally. He stutters. Verse 4:11 notes God’s response,
“And who do you think made the human mouth? And who makes some mute, some deaf, some sight, some blind? Isn’t it I, God? So, get going. I’ll be right there with you — with your mouth! I’ll be right there to teach you what to say.”
I wasn’t sure why that verse was meaningful in response to my prayer but I have learned to trust God’s leading even when it doesn’t make sense. I texted my friend and told her that this verse came up in my prayer time when I was interceding for her. Her response?
“You message was so timely, it brought me to tears.” She went on to explain her current circumstances (which I was unaware of) and then everything was made clear. This was the verse, God’s WORD, for her that day.
Hearing Requires Space
My time of solitude gave me space to be led to a specific verse for a specific person at a specific time for a specific purpose. That’s how God speaks.
Sometimes, it’s not so amazing. Well, it’s always amazing, I just don’t always get to see the dots connected like I did with my friend. It’s pretty thrilling when it happens though.
So, hearing the voice of God takes some effort. Some discipline. It takes creating and protecting time and space to listen. We can always speak to him as we go through our day, amidst the chaos and noise. I love that he’s available all. the. time. But the noise and chaos of my life is loud in my head. Noise makes it very difficult for me to listen. To hear his voice. To be led to scripture. To see how he has lined up circumstances to guide me towards a certain path. I have to slow down to listen. I have to create space. I have to get still and silent.
When I was a newbie to solitude, I didn’t quite know what I was supposed to do once I made the space and the quiet to listen. There are no rules to it, thankfully. But I could have used a guide. So I wrote one. And now I’m sharing it with you. It’s FREE and available today.
Soli Deo Gloria.