God gave me a rock. Seriously. Wait, let’s back up a little bit.
I have a very serious face. I’ve joked for years that I have “resting b*tch face”…but the truth is, I’m not always a happy person. Happiness and smiling doesn’t come easily to me. Contentment, yes. But smiling and joy, no. While I was at a retreat, cards were placed at random at every table spot. We chose our spot at random and opened our cards. The front was a Bible verse. Inside mine was “Smile. Happy looks good on you! Rejoice in the Lord and be glad.” I chuckled slightly and joked that if anyone needed to smile more, it was definitely me. But I mostly ignored it. I wasn’t actually going to smile more.
Later that day, a woman walks up to me. She was at the retreat, but I hadn’t met her. She wasn’t in my group or near my table or anything. In fact, I thought she was a little over-zealous. I know, it was judgmental. She said ‘I’ve been carrying this around for months and God just told me to give it to you.’ She handed me a small (a little bigger than a quarter) flat rock.
Um, what? (Was this lady crazy? What had I gotten myself into here?)
I looked at the rock. I flipped it over. And written in gold letters was the word “smile.” I busted out laughing. A big, genuine smile of joy crossed my face. I’m wearing another one right now as I share this story with you. I now make a concentrated effort to find the joy in life and to smile.
God is talking to YOU. He wants you to listen. There is a plan. And you’re part of it. Sometimes it’s not as dramatic as someone walking up to you out of the blue and handing you a rock with the same instructions you received just hours before. So, how do we listen? How do we hear the voice of God? Below are 10 ways to help you hear God when He is talking.
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1. Listen Everyday
The first way to hear from God is to follow the greatest commandment.
I don’t know about you, but that is a HARD one. Sometimes I just don’t. I question why (Dear God, why, seriously?) I’m bipolar. I question things I’ve gone through. I question why the sky is blue. Yes, I have a problem with questioning. Sometimes before we can hear God, we need to take time to love Him.
Another part of listening everyday is the key word “everyday”. We can’t just ask for God’s help when things are drastically going wrong and crisis is looming. We need to make God a part of everyday life.
2. Open Your Bible
Open your Bible at random and pray over the verse that it opens to. The answer may not always be clear, but there is always an answer.
I was praying over writing this post. I haven’t done a lot of faith stuff on this website. I opened it to John 18:20. “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one….” I found the prompting I needed to share my experience. We are all one in God. Thus my experience does and will have an impact on others. It’s something to rejoice in and to share.
Sometimes the answer will be different. I once got a blank page. Yes, seriously. I chuckled, closed my Bible, and got back to work. Maybe I had been procrastinating a bit too long over that decision. God has a sense of humor, after all.
3. Listen to the Homily
Listen carefully to the homily during the Church service. Sometimes it doesn’t always seem to apply to you. But almost always the priest will say something that rings true to your heart.
And, please, go to Church. If you have time to read this blog post, you have time to go to Church. I tell myself on Sunday when I want to snuggle back under the covers, “Jennie, if you have time for Facebook everyday, you have time to give God one hour.” And I’m always glad I’ve gone.
And if you really, really can’t make it to church, there are sermons online.
I’m currently slowly (it has three reflections for every day, so it’s a three-year process) working through “In Conversation with God: Meditations for Each Day of the Year.” I’m amazed how often the reading of that day touches something in my heart. Today, as I was reading, the final sentence was “We cannot wait for better opportunities which may never materialize.” I can’t wait for the perfect opportunity to share how God has touched my heart. This is my opportunity.
You don’t need to purchase this particular collection. Find a collection of devotionals and make it a habit to read them on a regular basis. God speaks through the words of others. You will find what you are looking for.
5. Talk Less, Listen More
I have a problem. Well, not a problem. It’s more a tendency. I tend to talk to God a lot. Sometimes I talk so much that I forget to listen. Quiet meditation, simply focusing on quiet and breathing is some of my best prayer time.
I know this can be hard to do in today’s world. Especially if you have kids around. If possible, set aside time for quiet and prayer. Have your husband, a friend, or a babysitter watch the kids. Go to a quiet room- or your closet (yes, I’ve prayed in my closet before) or go to Church when no one is there. Sit in silence and listen for God.
6. Accept Silence
Sometimes the answer is silence. It’s not the right time or you haven’t learned the lesson you need to learn. We can learn from silence. Accept this and keep praying and doing what you need to do.
7. Meditate on Biblical Scenes
This is one of my favorite prayer activities. I pick a Biblical scene and imagine myself there. Standing on the banks of the Jordan, sand underneath my feet, the sun on my face- but not too hot…it’s cloudy. The crowd of people around John the Baptist.
I often meditate on the scenes of the rosary (you can find them here: Joyful Mysteries, Sorrowful Mysteries, Glorious Mysteries, Luminous Mysteries). I don’t even say all the prayers between them. I just slowly go from mystery to mystery, imagining myself witnessing such events.
You don’t need to be Catholic to do this. You also don’t have to follow the mysteries. Pick any scene from the Bible and make a concerted effort to meditate on being there. What does it look like? What are people wearing? What are the emotions of the people around you? What are you feeling?
8. Appreciate Biblical Art
Do you love art? Do the scenes come alive for you? Just do a Google search for Biblical art (or search for a scene, such as the Resurrection) and pursue the images that pop up. Save them to your desktop as the background picture. Or take some time to meditate on the image. Much like the Biblical scenes exercise above, imagine yourself at the scene in the painting.
9. Examine Your Current Hardships
We all grow throughout life. Sometimes we learn lessons slowly. And God keeps sending us similar situations to teach us better. Look at your current hardships in your life. Is God sending a message? What is the lesson you are supposed to be learning in this season of your life?
10. Start a Faith Journal
This is my favorite and I saved it for last! Start a faith journal. Mine is a three-ring binder because it’s easy to add stuff to. Get some pretty paper and write down prayers that speak to you. Favorite Bible verses. Print off art that speaks to you. Journal your prayer life.
If you’re looking for an answer, flipping through your prayer journal is often a good way to find it.
If you’re looking for a FABULOUS resource on meditation journals, check out: Meditation Journal article.