Lily Tomlin once noted that when we talk to God we call it prayer, but when God talks back we call it schizophrenia.
More than 90% of Americans say they pray regularly. Are you one of them? When you talk to God, do you hope that he will talk back? Is there any reason you should not expect him to? How do you know when you have heard from God, or when your own head or someone else’s opinion is messing with you?
Addressing this topic, Jesus said, "My sheep know my voice." But how can that be? Does God mysteriously enable us to know his voice at some point in our spiritual journey? If not, when and how do we learn it? The simple answer is that we learn to hear God’s voice the same way we learn to hear every other voice — in relationship. We learn the voices of our parents because we hear them nearly every day for about the first two decades of our lives. We learn the voices of our friends as we hear them regularly. So to hear and learn the voice of God, we must have gone well beyond a transaction with God ("here’s my prayer of belief, now give me my salvation") and dived wholeheartedly into a relationship with Him. If the person who bagged your groceries yesterday calls you on the phone today, you almost certainly will not recognize his voice. If the person who gave birth to you calls you today, chances are good you will recognize her voice.
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