“Preparing Your Heart to Talk with God”
First of all, thank you for your interest in this course. As we learn and grow in our relationship with God we draw new ideas, concepts, wisdom, and knowledge to ourselves. Nothing is an accident. If you have felt a need to know God more personally and directly and God has brought you to this course, rejoice! You’re taking another step forward!
Okay, let’s get started!
Let’s look at a foundation principle:
Every aspect of our relationship with God stems from beliefs we hold to be true.
Let me illustrate:
A number of years ago while I was still involved in a very fundamental Christian ministry I had a life-changing conversation with a woman I’ll call Tracy just to protect her identity.
Tracy had been raised in the religion that I was promoting at that time. She had left it behind at some point in her life. It happened that I was visiting her parents for a few days and she had come over for the day. A snowstorm blew in preventing her return to town and so she was trapped in her parents house with a narrowminded Christian preacher who wasn’t above asking lots of questions!
I possessed a growing a curiosity about why people left our church and here was someone who could tell me! I decided to ask and then just listen.
I initiated the converstation with something like “Would you be willing to tell me what you think about our religion?” Tracy replied “You don’t want to know” I replied “Yes I do”. Again she repeated “You don’t want to know”. Again I responded with “Yes I do”. Then she said “No you don’t”. Even thought I was beginning to wonder I once again replied “Yes I do”. She then said “Well okay but I warned you…..”
A three hour conversation ensued in which I mostly listened. I had learned recently that listening was the key to understanding and so I decided to practice simply listening.
I don’t really know what she got out of the conversation but it was eye opening for me. I began to understand that her God was different than mine.
The difference was not God, but the beliefs we each held about God. I held some very stern beliefs about God. My God would punish quickly. My God only accepted people who belonged to my religion. All in all, my God was fairly severe and narrow minded. It took everything one could do to make Him happy and even then you couldn’t be too sure.
Tracy’s God was far different. As she described Him I felt she just didn’t “get” God. She was describing someone who was loving, forgiving, not so quick to judge His people or punish them for their every misstep. Even though I believed in a loving and forgiving God, you had to look long and dig deep to find those characteristics.
As I look back on that conversation that took place more than ten years ago I realize that something began to change for me. It was the result of being introduced to another person’s belief about God and simply listening with the understanding that what I was hearing was reality for Tracy. There is something sacred about every person’s belief and understanding about God. Part of me understood that during that conversation.
One thing in particular was huge for me. I slowly began to let go of the idea that only my ideas about God were the ONLY right ideas. My beliefs, convictions, impressions, views, and interpretations are not the complete picture of God. Even though my views are much wider than they were back then – they’re still not adequate to describe the totality of God. Today it seems rather arrogant to consider that one person’s view of God could ever be thought of as the “complete God”.
I tell you this story to illustrate how our beliefs shape our personal God. Do our beliefs change God? No. God simply is. You and I only see the aspects of God that we believe in. If we believe that God is an angry, vengeful God then so He is – to us. Another believes that God is a loving and forgiving Father type and so He is – to them. Most people have very complex belief systems about God. Some of the beliefs may be fairly deeply hidden and only show up when difficult experiences arise – such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, illness – anything that requires a closer look at God than everyday living.
The total set of beliefs we have about God defines God for each of us. Another way to say this would be that our God is the sum total of our beliefs. Once again, Almighty God is much more than what we think or believe. As scripture says God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, His ways higher than our ways. There’s no danger of us figuring out every aspect of God or defining God in totality.
What does this have to do with communicating with God and hearing God’s voice? It’s simple. Certain beliefs we tend to hold about God exclude communication with God. So what happens is this: We struggle to communicate with God and hear God’s voice and all the while we’re holding on to some deep seated belief that says “God doesn’t speak directly to people anymore” – or some other equally debilitating belief – there are many and we’re going to cover a few of the most common.
If we find that our communication with God isn’t what we want it to be or it seems impossible to hear God’s voice, it’s time to inspect our beliefs. It’s time to go into our hearts and prepare our heart for communication with God. This involves taking a good hard look at our beliefs about God, holding on to the ones that will help us in our goal and discarding the ones that are actually keeping us from hearing God’s voice.
This isn’t always easy. We will likely feel fearful. We may have been taught that we should never question our beliefs. Often our beliefs grow out of teachings we learn in our youth. I was taught that I was not to question those teachings and so it was a fearful thing for me to begin this process. I pressed on however because communication with God wasn’t working the way things were. In other words, what I was doing wasn’t working and so I knew I had to do something else.
I can tell you that there is nothing to fear. You may feel some reproach from a few people but I can promise you this: When you let go of all the beliefs that are holding your heart captive FROM God you will have peace like you’ve never known.
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (KJV)
If you only get one thing out of everything I share, get this: There is NOTHING or NO One to fear as you seek God. The spiritual consequences to seeking God are only blessing. There may be some suffering on the physical level as believers have faced before – but really I think that is much less intense that in the past as people have mellowed somewhat over time. The thing to remember is the promise left us: Fear Not – It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Any fear you might have as you go deeper in to your search for God is not from God and God will keep you so that the things you may fear will have no power over you – so you can let go of the fear as well.
Then you’ll begin to experience another promise that Christ left us:
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (KJV)
True freedom is found not on the physical level but on the spiritual plane when all fear is gone. That’s where we’re going because that’s where God is leading!
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (KJV)
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