Of all the things we need to learn as Christians, nothing comes close to learning how to pay attention to the Spirit of God and what He wants to communicate to us. Without His guidance and mentoring, we are virtually left to our own resources for discernment, cleansing and growth — things we are not that good at, if we are honest. In fact, trying to live without some form of leading from God makes the New Testament virtually inaccessible to us, because there is precious little there about how to live life apart from an interactive relationship with God. If anything, it tells us that such a life is unfulfilling at best.
Yet many Christians will say they never hear anything from God. To be sure, they are not aware of hearing from Him. But it is highly unlikely that He has never spoken to them or that they have never been led by Him. As Paul explains, God usually speaks in a manner of “His Spirit to our spirit” — which can be quite subtle at times. So we need to learn how to pay attention.
In my own experience, after nearly 30 years of trying to learn how to pay attention, there have been a wide variety of ways God has revealed Himself and His desires for me. As for an audible or nearly audible voice, I could count those on one hand and have fingers left over. For startling revelations of thought and perspective, I would say dozens perhaps. For what I would call a “dawning awareness” of the value of something I had not clearly seen before, maybe hundreds. Of those, the ones which have impacted my life in ways I would call “inner healing” it would be many dozens at least. In terms of simply being refreshed and encouraged, I would say countless.
What I mean to portray here is that very little of what God has given me could be put in quotes, with “thus saith the Lord” in front of the words. And it is not nearly as difficult as people think it might be. Listening to God is hardly ever an extraordinary event. I don’t see angels or heaven open or any of that. I simply reflect for a time in the presence of God. It might be on a verse or phrase of Scripture. Or it might be in regard to a person for whom I have concerns or with whom I have some difficulties. As I reflect and journal (to help keep my focus) I discover things I would have never thought of on my own. And I come away from those times with something I did not have when I started. It’s as simple as that.
Mostly we just need to set aside the time to be quiet and listen as we reflect. And over time we will learn what it feels like to have God bring to mind those things that are His gifts to us.