Before Fred and I were married we spent a week in Brazil doing mission work. We worked at a school, did construction work, and helped with several other things. His brother lived in Brazil at the time, so we decided to stay an extra week with him. He lived in a coastal city called Fortaleza. (If you are ever in Brazil you should visit here. I’ve visited few places in my life that rival the beauty of the beaches in Fortaleza. If the beauty of the city is not enough, please know that one day we sat under a beach umbrella and ate steak and French Fries while the ocean breeze touched our face. If it sounds like a dream, you are in the correct frame of mind.) While we were there, Dan took us to an open air market. You could buy all sorts of local, hand-crafted items. The crowds of people around us, including the vendors, were speaking Portuguese. You can hear it, but you couldn’t really hear it. Have you ever been in this situation? People were all around me talking, but I had no idea what they were saying. It was just white noise. But all of a sudden, in the midst of the white noise, I heard it. I heard two people speaking English to each other. My eyes and ears started scanning the crowd. At first I couldn’t find them, but then finally I found them. They were about 20 yards away. I made my way through the masses of humanity and immediately started talking to them. I have never felt such relief to find someone who spoke the same language as me. They were just as thrilled to see me. I’ll never forget the feeling of being in the midst of thousands of people speaking another language and my ears naturally being drawn to the English language within ear shot of me.
Why was I drawn to the people speaking English? Because that’s the language I speak. I’ve studied it in school. I read with this language. Normally, most of the people around me speak this language. I know it. The same thing could be said for God’s language. Sure, He speaks in the language that you know, because he’s God, but do you know His voice? Do you have ears to hear it? Here are a few ways that you, like me in the crowd of people speaking a different language, can recognize God’s voice.
1. Spend time in prayer.
Spending time talking and listening to God is the best way to know His voice. The more time you spend in prayer, the more you become familiar with his voice. You can hear Him above all the distractions that this culture throws your way.
2. Spend time studying His word.
Devotional books are nice, but I’m talking about really reading, really mulling over the Bible. I’m talking about studying it. You can study it in several ways, like listening to sermons and then going back later to reread the passage. You can use a study Bible. You can talk about passages of scripture with other believers. You can enroll in a Bible study. You can read it yourself. If you have not read the Bible from cover to cover, I strongly recommend doing just that. I prefer to read it chronologically. This is the best Bible I’ve found for that purpose:
I have found this HCSB Study Bible to be extremely helpful as well:
I know this sounds very charismatic, but the Bible doesn’t say “IF” you fast. It says “WHEN” you fast. When most people think of fasting they think of doing without food, but fasting can be doing without anything and then using that time that you would spend otherwise in prayer. Here are some examples of things you could fast from: meal(s) (Please check with your doctor first.), social media, television, chocolate, a hobby, shopping, sweets, etc.
4. Spend time with other mature Christians.
Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” We need to be around people who will encourage us and push us in our faith. Now, should you only be around people who believe like you all the time? No. There is a balance here. We are called to sharpen one another, but we are also called to be salt and light. It’s pretty difficult to be light when we are never around darkness.
5. Be actively involved in a local church.
I know. I’m a pastor’s wife, so I have to say this. Honestly, I can’t express to you the importance of being involved in a loving, growing, truth teaching church. You will find other mature Christians here. You will be encouraged from the pulpit each week. You will be equipped to live the best life you are called to live with Christ. We were made for community. Being actively involved in a local church will help in more ways than you can imagine.
When we know the language of the Teacher we recognize His voice above the chaos of this world. Even though the Bible was written thousands of years ago to a very specific audience, thousands of years later, God still speaks to me and to you through that same word. The same Heavenly Father to whom Jesus prayed from the cross is the One you can talk to any time of the day. Do you know Him? Does He know you? Can you hear Him above the chaos of the world? You can! I pray that you will.