The God Who Speaks
“Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” – John 8:47
Relationships require communication. Without effective, two-way communication, relationships become unhealthy. Though this is something we know to be true of the world around us, often we fail to see the need for effective communication between us and God.
Some are comfortable with God only speaking. They see God’s sovereignty as so great that they feel prayer or petitioning God to be, at best, ineffective and, at worst, totally unnecessary. Their “relationship” with God is completely one-sided. The trap in this thinking is that God can easily become so distant that what is supposed to be a relationship becomes merely an autocracy, and this relationship is anything but healthy.
Others see God as only hearing. For them, prayer and communication with God is all about telling God how He should act and anticipating that He will do exactly as they say He should. God is, for them, purely an order-taker. The trap in this thinking is that God becomes nothing but a genie, a slave to their wishes, and how could a holy God be wholly responsible for doing what they tell Him to do?
Both of these approaches to a relationship with God are distortions of reality, and they do not reflect the relationship that God maintains with us. Dallas Willard writes, “It is very important to remember and to always keep before your mind this fact: You are an unceasing spiritual being, created for an intimate and transforming friendship with the creative Community that is the Trinity. Learning to hear God is much more about becoming comfortable in a continuing conversation, and learning to constantly lean on the goodness and love of God, than it is about turning God into an ATM for advice, or treating the Bible as a crystal ball.”
To understand prayer and to live in the reality of our relationship with God, requires us to see our relationship to Him as fundamentally two-sided. God speaks to us, and God hears us. We are in a real relationship with the Trinitarian God. He speaks to us through His Spirit, and He hears us because of the sacrifice of His Son.
Reflection: Which of the two misinformed perspectives of God are you more prone to fall into? Are you more prone to see God as only speaking or only listening? How has this misinformed thinking hurt your relationship with God?
Prayer: Almighty God, Merciful Savior, Searching Spirit, in your infinite wisdom you have invited us into relationship with you. This relationship is not dictatorial or subservient, but it is an invitation to true intimacy with you. Lord, remind us this day that relationship with you allows us to hear from and speak to you. You are near us, with us, and active around us. For this, make us truly grateful. Amen.