DEVELOP THE HABIT OF LISTENING TO GOD
God speaks to us through many ways. He speaks to us primarily through His word. If something is clearly written in Godís word, then we donít need to pray to find Godís will, because it has already been revealed.
God also speaks to us through our circumstances. Our Lord has the key to every door (Rev.1:18) and when He opens a door no one can shut it and when He shuts a door, no one can open it (Rev.3:7). So our circumstances are very often an indication of whether God wants us to go along a particular way or not. We donít have to bang away at a door that God has not opened. We must of course pray, when we see a door shut. But if, after repeated prayer, a door still remains shut, it may mean that God does not want us to go through that door. We must ask God to show us if this is so, or whether He wants us to continue in persistent prayer to open that door (Lk.11:5-9).
God also speaks to us through the advice of mature, godly brothers. Such men have gone through many experiences and they can warn us of pitfalls that we are unaware of ourselves. We donít have to blindly obey them, but their godly counsel can help us.
God often speaks to us, while we are fellowshipping with other believers. Thus, He teaches us our dependence on other members of the Body of Christ, even for revelation on His word.
God always has something important to say to us, whenever we go through a trial or when we are sick.
God also warns us through the failures of others. If, for example, we hear of some servant of God who has fallen into sin, it is good to ask God what lessons we can learn from that manís failure (for we are all weak) and how we can preserve ourselves.
God can also speak to us when we hear news of evils being done somewhere or of accidents that have taken place. Jesus told the people of His time to repent, when they heard of Pilate butchering some Jews and when they heard of the accident in Siloam where a tower fell and killed some people Ė because such things could happen to anyone (Lk.13:1-4).
Let me add a word of warning, however, against trying to hear what God is saying, by randomly opening the Bible and reading the first verse that you see!If youíre eager to marry a particular girl, you may open the Bible at random to find some confirmatory verse. And if you donít find it, the chances are that you will keep opening the Bible until you find the verse that you want! Thatís how you can deceive yourself.I heard a story of a man who was trying to find Godís will in this way, who opened the Bible at random and read, "He went away and hanged himself" (Matt.27:5)! He opened the Bible again and found, "Go and do the same" (Lk.10:37)! He opened the Bible a third time and read, "What you do, do quickly" (Jn.13:27)! That cured him forever of trying to find the will of God in this way!
There may be times, however, when we are under pressure, when the Lord may encourage us through a verse that we get, by opening the Bible at random. This method is all right, if youíre looking for encouragement; but not, if youíre looking for guidance.
I want to encourage you, dear brothers, to develop the habit of listening to God. This is the single most important habit that you can ever develop.