Are You Listening?
The Lord once gave me a prophetic word through a very personal analogy. He showed me that when the church doesn’t allow Him to speak, we develop a profound spiritual hearing loss, similar to what I have dealt with in the natural for most of my life. Let me explain by sharing what it means not to hear, and then give you a vision for what it would be to hear Him more clearly.
What Did You Say?
I have about a 70% hearing loss in both ears. It is a nerve loss that man cannot cure. (It's no problem for God, though!) This means that for nearly half a century (yes, I’m that young!), I have struggled on a daily basis to discern what people are saying to me, piecing together parts of conversations, reading lips and studying body postures if necessary, to add to my understanding. It is one of the reasons why I much prefer a book to a conversation, because then I know I will comprehend the whole thing, not just pieces of it!
I have always felt that the most precious gift I could give you is to listen to you, and to hear you. To this end, I have spent countless hours ministering to people in crisis, listening, counseling, and praying. And I haven’t heard every word, but I have listened, and I have loved, and I have tried to show you that you are valued and heard, because God did the same for me. By God’s grace, the land of my need has become the land of my anointing.
The problem, obviously, is that the struggle just to hear can be highly stressful. When we married, my husband gave me the gift of being a stay-at-home mom. I used this time to develop greater intimacy with God. I had always loved prayer, but the freedom not to work gave me the time I needed to listen to God more regularly and get to know His voice.
My Sheep Hear My Voice
The beautiful thing about God’s voice is that everyone can hear it! (John 10:27). Even someone who is deaf can still hear the promptings of the Spirit. Our ability to hear in the natural has no bearing on our ability to hear in the Spirit. In fact, God chastises His people through Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Jesus for having ears but not hearing, and eyes but not seeing. (See Jeremiah 5:21, Ezekiel 12:2, and Matthew 13:13)
When I spend time listening to the One whose voice I can hear, He releases me from the stress and anxieties that come from not being able to rest- the striving that comes from trying to hear voices that always seem too soft.
The Church’s Hearing Loss
The analogy for the church is this: just as my stress level increases when I cannot hear people; in the same way, the church is stressed when the noise of our serving hinders the ease of our listening. While God is certainly capable of thundering from heaven, He tends to speak in quieter whispers. It is rare to find a church whose Sunday services allow time for God to speak; we are moving at an astonishing pace, and the noise is deafening. Our relentless programs and agendas prohibit us from developing the intimacy and relationship we need with our King. The devil knows that intimacy is the very place where healing and rest occur.
We need the healing that comes from hearing. The church becomes sick, tired, and broken down when we are so busy serving Him that we do not make it a priority – corporately or individually - to hear from Him. “Come to Me,” He says in Matthew 11:28, “all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
I am saddened by our tendency to drown out the voice of God with the noise of our own agendas. If our service means that we have no time to seek God and hear His instructions, then our ministries will soon fail. Our preoccupation with our to-do lists and agendas is in vain because it is ultimately only the wishes of the King that matter. This can be a hard concept for people in democratic nations to grasp. We don’t understand the weight or the priority of a king’s word.
Hearing and Healing
In over 35 years of ministry in various denominations, I have been the most blessed by people and churches who have shown true respect for the voice of the King. I’m not just talking about the difference between those who allow prophecy and those who do not. I’m noticing that there are those who have chosen to make a listening to God a priority.
I am thinking of one pastor I know who does not venture an opinion or do any ministry, without first listening to you - and listening for God's instructions. I know of one church that worships its way into the Presence of God and then waits silently until He has finished speaking before beginning their planned sermons and programs. I know from talking with many stressed-out, unfocused Christians that they long to hear and do what God has created them to do, not just what man has asked them to participate in. They simply aren’t sure how to do it or where to start.
I believe that our Sovereign King, the One who holds in His hands the blueprints for how to build the church, may be wondering what it is we think we are building without Him. He may be waiting for us to wait on Him, to embrace Him closely enough to hear His heartbeat. He may be speaking to us ever so softly, asking, “Are You Listening?”
Do you have a hard time hearing God in the midst of a busy life? How do you overcome that challenge? Share your comments below.
© Deborah Perkins, HisInscriptions.com. This article, along with many others, appears in Deborah's book, Life-Giving Prayer, available on Amazon.com.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.