Today’s message summary of May 21, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:
Today, we will discuss prayer but we also want to be able to learn how to listen to God in the midst of prayer.
Elijah went into hiding because he learned that his life was in danger because of his efforts to remove the idols of the day from the presence of Ahab and Jezebel. There, the Lord spoke to him…
1 Kings 19:9-18
He entered a cave there and spent the night.
Elijah’s Encounter with the Lord
Then the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Hosts, but the Israelites have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are looking for me to take my life.”
Then He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.”
At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
“I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Hosts,” he replied, “but the Israelites have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they’re looking for me to take my life.”
Then the Lord said to him, “Go and return by the way you came to the Wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive, you are to anoint Hazael as king over Aram. You are to anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel and Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. Then Jehu will put to death whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death whoever escapes the sword of Jehu. But I will leave 7,000 in Israel—every knee that has not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
There are many points here, but we will cover the following point relevant to listening to God when we pray:
Identifying God’s voice. Many of us can recognize specific voices, such as a mother, brothers or sisters, or even children and parents, and that is because of your personal knowledge and exposure. In contrast, we often can struggle hearing God’s voice. Please note that God has never stopped speaking to his church. Our struggle is the amount of time we spend trying to hear Him. We face many distractions that keep us from hearing Him. Consider that Elijah, a very devout man, was in a place where he had become frightful even though he was a man full of faith and had spoken to God on a regular basis. You would not necessarily expect that he would struggle here as he did.
God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?” We can ask ourselves the same question. Even when we are speaking to God, sometimes we cannot hear him because of how our fears can drown out the voice of God.
Can you identify the voice of God? Are you able to decipher His voice over the voices of others?
The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they don’t recognize the voice of strangers.”
The sheep know His voice. If you know Jesus Christ, you can identify His voice. It is often, however, that we, as His sheep, will willingly listen to strangers that lead us to sin. Other voices that are contrary to God will try to drown out God’s voice. We can often be easily distracted. We need to be intentional in pursuing the very things that God directs us to in order to succeed.
We can hear the voice of God actually answering previously unanswered prayers.
And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit:
speaking to one another
in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,
singing and making music
from your heart to the Lord,
giving thanks always for everything
to God the Father
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
submitting to one another
in the fear of Christ.
What is really in your heart? Is it the Word of God or is it something else? What permeates from you? Is the Word of God something that comes naturally for you?
When you hear a voice of condemnation or one that promotes depression, it is not the voice of God. We are to decipher those voices of the world versus those that come from God.
How do we know when God is communicating to us? In biblical times, God did so in many different ways. He can use these means even today. He communicates to us through our friends or even our worldly co-workers. In order to hear what He is saying, we must be attentive to this communication and live intentionally for Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 12:6-9
For if I want to boast, I will not be a fool, because I will be telling the truth. But I will spare you, so that no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me, especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.
Notice how God communicated to Elijah in 1 Kings 19:
1 Kings 19:11-12
Then He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.”
At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.
These are three supernatural and spontaneous events that occurred. Notice that Elijah is trying to hear God’s voice through all of the noise but it was only when things were quiet and still was when he heard it.
It is important for each one of you, in our busyness, that we have to be still and focus on His voice. It is in our quiet moments when we can hear Him best.
When we are praying to Him, what would it look like if we were silent? What you will hopefully hear is your quiet conversation with Him and His response as you learn to read and meditate on His Word on a daily basis.