I watched my four-year-old as she played, flattening and rolling and stretching the play-doh in her capable hands.
“J.J.,” I beckoned. No answer.
“Julianne…,” I tried once more.
When she didn’t respond, I moved to sit beside her.
“Julianne, I need you to stop what you’re doing and look in my eyes. I have something important to tell you.”
I watched as she obediently, albeit slowly, laid down her toys and lifted her face, her blue eyes finally locking with mine. Once I knew I had her attention, I felt free to speak and tell her what she needed to know.
As a parent, I might run through this scene hourly. Getting our children’s attention can be an infuriating task, as they move about their days wrapped up in their own little worlds. Recently, however, God has been showing me how often I do this with Him. Even in seasons like I am in today, seasons where I am anxious for His guidance and direction, I struggle to sit long enough to receive it.
In the midst of this struggle, I have learned some practical steps to take to prepare my heart to hear from God. Using the spiritual disciplines of confession, fasting, and waiting I have learned how to lay down my to-dos and lock eyes with Christ.
Open Your Ears Through Confession:
As a Protestant-raised Christian, confession wasn’t something I was explicitly taught how to do. And if I’m honest, I didn’t value this practice until I was married. As a young married woman, I quickly learned that anger and hurt can cloud the communications channels between my husband and me. And where there is strained communication, there is strained intimacy. We soon learned the importance of confessing to one another and asking for forgiveness in order to stay connected.
The same is true in our walk with God. So often we go to sit at Christ’s feet, begging to hear a word from Him, without realizing there is sin clogging our communication channels. Our hearts cannot clearly echo His gentle whisper if they are crowded with unconfessed sin.
When we need to hear from the Lord, we must sit and ask the Lord to search our hearts. Personally, I like to sit with pen and paper so as He brings things to mind, I can jot them down. As I write them out, I confess them to the Lord and then I cross them out, repenting and asking for the strength to overcome them. Through the practice of confession and repentance, the ears of our hearts are opened, and we will be able to clearly hear the voice of God.
Whet Your Appetite Through Fasting:
Fasting is another discipline the church rarely discusses. In Matthew 9:15, however, we read that Jesus expects us to fast in His absence. I love how John Piper describes it when he says, “Fasting is a physical exclamation point at the end of our pleas to God.” While fasting often reveals our sins, its main function is to stir our longing for Christ’s return, His presence, and His voice in our lives.
Fasting from a meal and spending that time in prayer demonstrates our desire to feast on the word of God, more than the bread of man. It whets our appetite to hear from Him. It aids in the process of opening our hearts to what He might have to say. Once we have positioned ourselves to hear from the Lord, the only thing left to do is wait…
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This piece was originally posted on my friend Ellen Chauvin’s blog, Soaked and Sprouting. I was so humbled when Ellen reached out to me and asked if I might consider writing a guest post for her blog. She was celebrating five years of blogging by inviting others to speak from her platform. If that doesn’t give you an insight into the heart of this wonderful lady, I don’t what will. It was a joy to share this piece with her audience, and I pray you’ll find it encouraging as well. Hop on over to Ellen’s blog to read about the practice of active waiting I found helpful, while we wait.