Praying to God is a two-way street. We do our part and speak to God..but then we also need to listen. If we aren’t doing this yet then it’s hard to talk to our children about it. There are so many ways that God speaks to us: Though the bible/ through impressions in our minds or hearts/ audibly/ through things friends say etc.
Can you hear God talk to you in your prayer time? – how does He usually communicate with you? Can you recall the first time you realised that He was speaking to you?
The first time this happened quite took me by surprise! In fact, God hasn’t communicated with me in quite the same way since! It was a long time ago when I was 27 years old….I was a student in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. My friend got me to help out with some singing in church. She led and I did my best to follow! I remember feeling a tiny bit closer to God as I sang. I didn’t have much of a relationship with God at that time. I prayed almost every day and went to church. I tried to keep God’s commandments and I went to confession every 3 months or so.
I arrived at church just as the parish priest was about to lock the church doors. I asked if I could go in and pray for a while as my uncle was dying of cancer. He agreed. I was alone in the church.
Apart from myself the only other things that were moving were the flames from the tea light candles. I still remember watching them flicker. I prayed for my uncle. Then I prayed for myself.
I started to cry. A young man, a student on my course, who had been kissing me one day had, a few days later, got drunk at some party and made love to a married woman. I wasn’t there – but I heard about it. Then he literally stopped talking to me. Nothing. I was really upset. So, there I was, alone in Church, crying over this guy.
What happened next is difficult to describe..
What seemed like a thought of mine went through my head…in my own voice, quietly – but at the same time it had another tone to it. It also seemed to be coming from everywhere outside of my head- in 360 degrees- and it was loud! The voice said,
“Lawrence is not the one..”
I looked around me just to check there wasn’t anyone else there – but I knew that I was on my own. I stayed a little while longer and then rushed off to tell my only Catholic friend from the course. I asked her, “What do you think it means?”. She said it was obvious – that he wasn’t the right man for me.
I didn’t expect to hear God in that way again – or in any way! But God was on the move. He was preparing my heart to be able to hear His voice again and soon.
The course finished and I had failed it. I had never failed anything before so it was a bit of a shock for me. It affected me more than I had expected. I became mildly depressed-this is my own diagnosis.
After a couple of months, I attended a Catholic Charismatic Prayer Meeting in Greenwich, London. Previously, I had avoided this sort of thing like the plague. I just didn’t want to be part of the ‘happy clappy mob’. I felt it was false. Emotion and religion – not for me!
But the strange thing was, as I heard everyone around me pray ‘in tongues’ I felt like I was in Heaven.
What struck me was that these people heard from God! They actually expected to hear from Him! I was amazed and I wanted to hear God more!
Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you” …not maybe, …but “I will”. And my depression? It lifted after the first night!
And I learnt to hear God’s voice through scripture; through images that God gave me in my mind’s eye…through all manner of ways. I very slowly began to realise that He cared for me. I also made lots of mistakes in what I thought was His voice. It’s a process-and you need to be around experienced people. Ask God to find the right group for you. Don’t follow an isolated person who claims to hear God and is accountable to no one. That is dangerous. I suggest this in a grounded prayer group which exudes the gifts of the Holy Spirit- peace, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
“Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:17-20)
The more you listen- the clearer His voice becomes. What a thrill it was to realise that Jesus wanted to speak to me and to guide me. I wasn’t alone!
Isn’t this what any loving parent would do? ..Talk to their child… guide and reassure them…of course!
Please see ‘Conversational Chat with God’ 2 & 3 on how to help a child listen to the voice of God!”