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Podcast 1.09 Four Keys To Hearing God’s Voice

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Episode 1.09 Four Keys To Hearing God’s Voice

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Intro: Welcome to the Encounter Jesus podcast, also known as the ‘feel like Jesus is hugging you today’ podcast. I’m Elizabeth Ellynshaw, and today we will be talking about four Biblical keys to hearing God’s voice. We’ve already either talked about or even tried out each of these four things on previous episodes of this podcast, but they are really powerful when you put them all together. It reminds me of my childhood swimming lessons: first we held the wall and practiced just kicking our legs correctly, and then we practiced not moving our legs at all but just moving our arms correctly, and then we just stood still and practiced just holding our breath and blowing bubbles correctly, but when we put all of those things together at the same time, then we suddenly found ourselves actually swimming. And when I use all four of these keys at the same time, I find myself suddenly, easily, actually hearing from God. So what are they? The first is to be quiet and still before God, the second is to fix the eyes of our hearts on Jesus, the third is to recognize the voice of God as spontaneous thoughts that light upon our mind, and the fourth is to write them down. And when I am doing all four of those things at the same time, I’m being quiet, I’m picturing Jesus, noticing the flowing thoughts that come, and writing them down, I receive from Him. It may feel like a lot at once to put all those things together, just like remembering your kicking and your arm strokes and your breathing all at once, but as you practice, it begins to come easily and naturally, and oh the freedom of cutting through the water like a fish, oh the freedom and joy of dialoguing all day long with the Holy Spirit!

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Prayer: Lord, I pray for the person listening to this right now, that they would get really, really good at being still and quiet inside to hear Your voice to them. I pray that they would get really, really good at fixing the eyes of their heart and imagination on Jesus and seeing what You are showing them. I pray they would get really good at hearing and recognizing the spontaneous thoughts that You are speaking to them. And I pray they would be able to write down and capture the thoughts You are sharing with them and grow ever deeper in dialoging with You all day long. And I pray all this for the sake of Your glory Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Content: So these four keys do not come from me, they come from a teaching by a brother named Mark Virkler of Communion with God Ministries. But the reason I loved this teaching so much was that it perfectly matched and explained what I had been experiencing with God myself. I had set aside a season of time in prayer to ask God Himself to teach me how He wanted me to hear from Him, and later I read Mark Virkler’s testimony of doing the exact same thing. And the really cool thing is that what God taught me when I asked Him and what God taught my brother Mark when he asked Him were the same practices. That was such a big confirmation for me! But Mark Virkler was way better at explaining and putting into words how he learned to hear God, and so I want to share his four keys with you.

He found all four of these keys in the Biblical book of Habakkuk, where in chapter 1 Habakkuk pours out his heart and lament to God and writes it down, and then he hears an answer from God that actually horrifies him, so then he pours out his follow-up questions to God again, asking question after question, that’s all chapter one, Habbakkuk talks, God talks, Habakkuk talks, so at the beginning of chapter 2 Habakkuk has written down all his questions for God and he says the verses Mark Virkler found the four keys in: now I am going to stand at my guard post and station myself on my tower and watch to see what God will say to me, and then the Lord says ‘write the vision down’ and then He goes on to give Habakkuk a long, unexpected answer full of powerful truth, to which Habakkuk again writes out his own emotional response to what God said, and finally at the end of the book he reaches an incredible place of peace and trust in God no matter what happens. So we are reading Habakkuk’s personal dialogue prayer journaling, where he wrote out his questions to God and then listened and then wrote down the answers he heard and then wrote down his own response to God again, and so on.

Now personal dialogue prayer journaling is a tool, it’s not the only way humans can hear God’s voice, but it’s an incredibly powerful tool that has changed my life and so many other people’s lives, so I love to share it. To continue our metaphor of learning to swim, if you learn to swim the breaststroke, that’s not the only way of swimming in the world, but it’s a really basic one that so many people have found effective.

So what did Habbakuk do? What are the elements of this breaststroke? Well, the first thing Mark Virkler drew from the first part about I will stand at my guardpost and position myself on my tower was that Habakkuk quieted himself. We don’t need to climb a physical tower in order to hear from God, but we all need to get quiet and listen the way a watchman on guard duty is silent, listening, and looking. And as we practice this, we can turn to God and get quiet on the inside anywhere, in any place or time of day.

The second key comes from something Mark Virkler found unexpected in these verses. He expected Habbakuk to say, ‘I will listen to hear what God will say to me,’ but instead it says, ‘I will look to see what God will say to me.’ So hearing from God involves looking and seeing picture-thoughts from God, not just listening and hearing word-thoughts from God. So the second key is about that, and there are a bunch of ways you can say this second key. You can say ‘fix the eyes of your heart on Jesus.’ You can say ‘look for Jesus.’ You can say “turn to Jesus in your imagination,” or “picture the truth that Jesus is with you.” You can say “look for vision when you pray”, or “look to receive flowing picture-thoughts from God.” Those are all different ways of describing the same experience, so choose whichever way of saying it makes the most sense to you. Another teacher, Patty Sadallah, points out that there are three positions that the Bible says believers are in relationship to Jesus all the time: first, Jesus is with us, second, Jesus is in us, and third, we are in Jesus. He is with us, that He is in us, and that we are in Him. You can find so many Bible verses for each one of those. And all three are true all the time, so at any moment you can begin to picture one of those truths, seeing Jesus with you, seeing Jesus in you, or seeing yourself in Jesus, and through that begin to fix the eyes of your heart on Jesus. And like Habakkuk, you can look to see what the Lord Jesus will say to you.

The third key is to recognize the voice of God as spontaneous thoughts that light upon your mind. We already talked about how Jesus said in John 7 that the Holy Spirit feels like flowing water gushing out of your innermost being, and that thoughts from the Holy Spirit tend to be flowing thoughts. So the other way to state this key is to ‘tune to flow.’ Again you can say it however makes the most sense to you: Listen for spontaneous thoughts, listen for flowing thoughts, recognize spontaneous thoughts lighting upon your mind, tune in to flowing thoughts, tune to flow.

Mark Virkler explains how to very simply recognize three sources of thoughts, from ourselves, God and the enemy. He says our own thoughts are analytical and tend to proceed from what we were just thinking about before. But sometimes we get spontaneous, unexpected thoughts lighting on our mind. And if those thoughts are accusing, lying, or tempting thoughts, they might be coming from our enemy who is called the Accuser, the Deceiver, the Tempter. But if those thoughts are Comforting and Helpful and True, then they can be from the Holy Spirit who is called the Comforter, the Helper, and the Spirit of Truth. We actually can be hearing thoughts from God all day long and not realizing it, because God is so gentle with us that we think it was just our own thought. So this very simple rule of thumb is that non-spontaneous thoughts are probably mine, spontaneous really bad thoughts are probably the enemy, and spontaneous really good thoughts are probably from the Holy Spirit. And now when I look back I can remember moments all throughout my life that my own anxious thoughts were interrupted by a different thought that was so loving, so confident, so authoritative, and so peaceful, that it didn’t feel the same as mine at all. I can even remember specific moments this happened to me in my young childhood and understand, that was God’s Spirit speaking to me.

And the fourth key that God clearly told Habakkuk to do is to write it down. Mark Virkler said when he started writing it down he went from hearing one sentence answers from God to hearing pages and pages from God. Because he knew he needed to test what he was hearing, so when he began to hear flowing thoughts from God he would stop and think is that true, is that Biblical? Which is really good, but because he had started analyzing he had cut off the spontaneous flow and didn’t hear any more. But when he wrote it down, he knew he would be able to reread it and analyze and test it later, so he let it just keep flowing and flowing and flowing and he discovered that God was ready to say way, way more than just one sentence to him, that God’s thoughts were flowing towards him all the time. Just like Psalm 139 says, that God’s thoughts towards just one human being are more in number than the grains of sand. And that has been my own experience as well, that if I write it down I both hear God so much more easily and more and I also capture it so I can share it with other people both to help me test it and to encourage each other.

So those are the four keys, and the key to the keys is to use all four of them at once. To quiet ourselves down, fix our eyes on Jesus, recognize spontaneous thoughts, and write them down all at the same time. Mark Virkler get everyone to stand up and repeat this with hand motions: hearing God’s voice is as easy as quieting myself down, fixing the eyes of my heart on Jesus, listening for spontaneous thoughts, and writing them down. And I can testify that I have been doing this every day for well over 6 years now, and it has been so, so good.

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Question: So today I invite you to try it. Find a quiet place and a piece of paper and a pen and set aside at least just five minutes for listening and journaling. Quiet yourself down before God and picture and imagine the truth that Jesus is with you. Write down the question, “Lord Jesus, what would You like to say to me?” At the top of your paper. Then begin to write down the first thought that comes to your mind, and just keep writing whatever thought comes next. After you’ve written for five minutes, reread what you have written and share it with someone you trust. Whatever happens, congratulations, you just let go of the wall of the pool and tried really swimming without putting your feet down! Keep practicing!

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