WATCHING AND LISTENING
Oh, that My people would listen to Me…I would soon subdue their enemies, and turn My hand against their adversaries. Ps 81:13-14 NKJV
Jesus said, My sheep hear My voice. If you are a sheep of God, a born again one, God talks to you. But there is a difference between hearing and listening! Our physical ears record a continuous explosion of sound all day long…but how much do we really listen to? Born again ones that say that God doesn’t talk to them are really saying that they don’t listen to Him, that they haven’t tuned their spiritual ears to hear and discern the voice of their Master. God talks to every one of His born again ones daily…but, are we listening?
Now, therefore, listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways.
The ability to clearly hear from God is an art form that very few take the time to master. So few masters the art of hearing clearly from God that we make a doctrine out of our unbelief. We act as if it is His fault that we don’t hear from Him, when the responsibility is clearly on our shoulders. If we would slow down, take our time, concentrate and listen, we would hear the still, small voice of God, and we would know where to go and what to do…
Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it. Prov. 8:33
The Lord had to teach me to listen…
In the renewal that came out of Toronto Canada in the mid ’90s, which coincided with the launch of our ministry to the African Church, there was birthed in me a tremendous desire to pray, especially in tongues. I would go up on the hills above our town and pray in tongues for hours…I loved it! Being the type of personality that I was, I would race up the hill, pray earnestly and passionately until I raced off to do something else. Finally, one time, the Holy Spirit stopped me in my tracks as I raced back to my truck after prayer. He said, “Stop! You run up the hill…you pray, pray, pray…and you run down the hill! You never stop to listen to Me!” Ohhh…sorry! That experience was the start of me beginning to learn to listen to Him.
Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord…
Prov. 8:34, 35 NKJV
Watching and listening! The Lord brought several ministries into my life to help me learn to listen to Him. I benefited much from the teaching ministries of Derek Prince, Dale Sides, and Kenneth Hagin, and I have learned much about listening from traveling with a dear man of God, Dr. Jack Tuls. Dr. Tuls and I have visited many African nations together to plant schools of ministry.
One time we went to plant a school in Niamey, Niger, a brutally hot north African nation. We actually succeeded very quickly and then had not much to do for a week. While I was anxious and pacing around a lot, like a caged lion, Jack decided to lie on his bed and just listen to God. Guess who heard from God? You know…God told Jack to have us go to Mali the following year, where we met missionary Daniel Tieh, who now heads a half of a dozen fine schools of ministry in that great nation…
Another time, in Uganda, God told Jack to go to the south East Asian nation of Cambodia to plant schools of ministry. He told him this as he listened to Him early one morning. Later that day, as I taught on prophecy, a Ugandan pastor prophesied to Jack and said, “I see Cambodia written all over you!” As you can imagine, Jack went there and had tremendous ministry…now that’s listening to God!
Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us. Ps. 123:2 KJV
Watching is listening to God with your eyes. You are intent upon Him, waiting for a signal as to your next move. You have no other agenda than to obey Him – to get cleansed of ‘other agendas’ requires some real soul searching and the assistance of the Holy Spirit, to separate the ‘me’ from ‘Him.’ But the power of the discipline of listening to God makes all the difference in effective ministry, indeed, in an effective life.
Let’s look at some keys to listening to God…
1). LISTENING IS AN ACT OF WORSHIP. What you focus on is what you worship. Listening to God is the advanced application of the lordship of Jesus ( reading, believing and applying the written Word of God is the basic application of the lordship of Jesus ). Stay reverent in the presence of God…the Lord confides in those who fear Him!
2). LISTEN WHEN GOD SPEAKS. When does God speak?
“The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned. The Lord God has opened My ear, and I was not rebellious… Isa. 50:4-5 NKJV
God can speak at any time…but the time to really listen is when you are quiet in the early morning. The key to receiving revelation is to have peace, and generally speaking, there is no more undisturbed time of day than in the early morning. Jesus went out to pray early in the morning, thus combining worship with a quiet time of listening to His Father. In the morning is when the whole of creation awakens in a cacophony of praise to Him. This is why the earth rotates. It is continually dawn somewhere and the creation is praising Him. It’s interesting that the devil seems to work at night, while God generally works in the morning. Men work during the day (really test plans and strategies birthed in the afternoon, whether they are of God or not).
Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee. Ps 143:8 KJV
3). LISTEN FOR CLARITY AND SIMPLICITY.
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
1 Cor 14:33 KJV
God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace. Gen 41:16 KJV
God can say just a few words, but it seems like He fills up your whole spirit with understanding with those few words. If I seem to get something that is unclear, I wait for it to be clarified or I dismiss it altogether. I don’t burden myself with ‘trying to figure out what God is saying.’ God knows you and I, and He can speak with perfect clarity in your colloquial speech that you understand. Expect Him to speak clearly and simply!
When you are listening to God, you don’t need to be talking or praying. He already knows your need. You are there, humbled, surrendered, broken. No need to speak (tears are okay)! Perhaps some quiet praying in tongues…but just really listen!
4). THE TWO GREAT KEYS OF LISTENING: OPEN-ENDED TIME AND UNDIVIDED ATTENTION.
I used to take my dog out to pray with me until I realized that God seemed to be ‘jealous’ of my dog. Too much of my attention was being directed to the dog, rather than to the Lord. God wants your undivided attention, which is why you should listen to Him when you are alone and undisturbed. Turn off your cell phone! Get unhooked, unplugged, and un-tethered. I hear from God many times when I run. But I see other people running with headphones, which can be nice, perhaps…but it would seem to make it hard to hear from God (at least for me!).
‘Open-ended time’ means that I will give Him all the time that He wants until He releases me. This is a hard one for most of us because we haven’t really surrendered the lordship of our time yet. Discipline yourself to stay in His presence, alone, naked and unashamed, until He releases you.
If your life, or your ministry, has hit a plateau and is not bearing fruit, you need to get back to the simple discipline of listening to God. He has joy…He has answers…He has all kinds of fun things to talk to you about if you will take the time to listen. Dear ones, I am praying for your ears!
Remember dear ones, we must be about our Father’s business…