“Every time the Lord faced an important decision, He prayed. When He was being tempted to do things by the world’s methods instead of the Father’s, He prayed (Matthew 4). When it was time to choose His disciples, He prayed the entire night (Luke 6:12). If the Son of God required a night of prayer in order to determine the Father’s mind, how long might it take us in prayer to clearly determine our Father’s will?” Henry Blackaby
Let prayer set the agenda of your life. Many of us often worry about our lives. What should we do next year? Where should we live? What school should we go to? These are all good questions that need careful thought. But if most of us were honest, we would admit that we worry needlessly about the choices we should make in everyday life. It is right to get wise counsel and to weigh out the options. However, when concern turns into unnecessary anxiety, we are not trusting God who knows exactly how to handle every situation we face. Life becomes simpler when we learn to seek God for every aspect of our plans. Our times spent in prayer will bring revelation of His agenda for us. We can be confident that in the final analysis, it is God who knows what is best for us and what will give Him the greatest glory.
We must learn to pray about everything and trust in God’s wisdom that far surpasses ours. At times we may sense His direction and feel the peace that comes from the Holy Spirit even though nothing in the natural may look logical. Recently we had this type of experience. We began to pray about lengthening our ministry time overseas because we felt God might want us to extend our visit to certain countries. We sensed God’s peace in a particular direction even though the decision to go home would have been easier and seemed more logical. We had already been traveling for two months, we were tired, had much to do in the U.S., and my father was ill, so an extension of another two months needed prayerful consideration. There were other reasons why going home would have been the right choice from a human standpoint. The problem is that very often God’s viewpoint is different from ours. He sees things far in advance and from His perspective, which is far beyond ours. In this case, we felt we must go with the leading and peace of the Holy Spirit. The real key for us was prayer and waiting upon God, listening and hearing His voice.
Through prayer, we discovered God’s agenda. We may not know the full picture of why we were to extend our time overseas. But we do know that we had to take that step of faith that was guided and empowered through prayer in order to do God’s very best. We knew that we were in the right place and that when we did return home, we knew we had completed what God had for us overseas. God loves to hear us pray with fervency, having done so, listen and step out in faith according to His leading. Perhaps there is something that you need to pray over regarding God’s plan and purpose in your present circumstances. Praying through every decision, listening to His voice, and leaning upon His understanding and wisdom will enable you to determine His agenda.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6) .
Guidelines to Hearing God’s Voice Through Prayer
“But as for me, I will look to the Lord and confident in Him I will keep watch; I will wait with hope and expectancy for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me” (Micah 7:7, Amplified).
- Bathe your life in prayer – Pray about all the decisions in your life daily. Ask Him for direction so that you may fulfill His will for your life for that day. Continually bring major decisions to Him in prayer. Pray, listen, and wait with expectancy.
- Believe that God does speak to you – “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Accept this promise.
- Find time to be alone with God – Take time to pray and listen. Most of life is very busy, but time with Him is of utmost importance so we can hear from God. Often the Lord responds with a thought planted by His Spirit into the mind or heart.
- Keep a journal of what God says – We can better evaluate guidance and see what God is saying when we journal on a regular basis. Journaling helps us to ponder our thoughts and impressions so we can clearly discern the path God wants us to take.
- Test what you hear – What we think is God’s voice may come from the Holy Spirit, from the enemy or from our own souls. Ask the Lord to confirm what you think He may be saying. Through practice, we learn to hear God’s voice and the Holy Spirit’s leading. 1 John 4:1 exhorts us to test the spirits.
- Carefully check all guidance with Scripture – God’s Word is truth. What we think God is speaking should line up with Scripture. This is why we should examine everything carefully with the Bible. It is good to seek confirmation from at least two other Christians before taking action, especially on big decisions.
- Obey God – We must be willing to act on what God has told us. When we obey God, there is blessing. If we still doubt what we think God is saying, it is good to continue to ask Him for confirmation until we sense His peace.
“Jesus knew that His mission was not to attract a crowd, but to remain obedient to His Father. It was prayer that set the agenda for Jesus’ ministry (Luke 6:12). Prayer preceded the miracles (John 11:42-43); prayer brought Him encouragement at critical moments (Luke 9:28-31); prayer enabled Him to go to the cross (Luke 22:41-42); and prayer kept Him there despite excruciating pain (Luke 23:46). Follow the Savior’s example, and let your time alone with God, in prayer, set the agenda for your life.” Henry Blackaby