Prayer is more than talking to God and asking him to provide this and that; prayer involves listening to what God is telling you. I have never heard God speak audibly to me, so when he speaks to me it is always a tug on my heart, peace in a decision with my decision, or a prompting to take action.
Christians are called to be people of faith. That means they believe an answer is coming even when one can’t see it yet. Conversely, if you are not searching for the will of God, you won’t be able to know and follow the will of God. Here are three thoughts to consider when you are trying to understand what God is saying.
1. Do I feel God leading me to proceed, stop, or wait? God is always at work around you so expect Him to provide you with an answer. Just because you don’t have clarity now it doesn’t mean you won’t have clarity later. Trust the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you to the place God wants you to be or help you make the decision you need to make. A good indicator that you are following the will of God is when you pray about it and God gives you peace about what to do next. God’s peace will rest on the right answer.
2. Do I feel God leading me to do or view something different? When you seek God and listen to him for the answer, you need to be open to another option if the option you really want doesn’t happen. Maybe God wants to do something different. It’s amazing what you will see if you pay attention to what is happening around you. I call it the third option. There is always a third option and usually the other options have to close before God reveals it. It might be a new solution, a change in circumstances, or even access to new resources you didn’t have when you started seeking God’s will.
Luke recorded a situation Paul was having in Acts 16:6-10. The Apostle Paul longed for God to open a door for him to travel to the east to preach the Gospel, but God never let him go there. Instead God had a different place in mind. One night Paul had a dream about a man in Europe calling out to him to come and preach there, so he went and his trip produced results.
3. Do I feel God doing a work in my heart? When I pray God moves my heart. He wants me to learn patience or grace or forgiveness. When God seems silent, reflect on your own life and see if God wants to change you. God might be doing a work in your life to be more generous with your finances and time. On more than one occasion I felt led to give financially to a project after praying about it. That is God doing a work in your heart and you know when he is. You can feel it. Don’t dismiss the tug of God on your heart. When you ignore the tug on your heart is leads to regret. And if you dismiss the tug enough, eventually you won’t even feel it and that is a bad place to be.
King David was a man with a checkered past. He was a bad father, sent people into battle knowing they would die, and committed adultery. Yet in spite of all his weaknesses, he loved God with his whole heart and sought the will of God. In Psalm 66 David writes:
“You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1-2
God is constantly speaking, you need to listen for his small voice leading you. Pray, then listen. Talk to God about anything and everything and when you ask him for an answer, listen for it. He will provide an answer.