In a recent series of blogs we have been exploring the ‘prophetic process’ and considering how hearing God’s voice is much more than a one-off event, but rather something to be properly unpacked and worked through. We’ve looked at the ‘tuning in’ part and the ‘discernment’ part. And finally we come to what in many ways is the most crucial element of the whole process: what we do in response to God speaking to us.
As we consider how to respond to God’s voice we find ourselves at the place where the prophetic intersects with discipleship. In many ways this intersection is at the heart of our relationship with Jesus. Because as Christians we know that the call on our lives is not just to believe in Jesus but also to follow him as disciples. And we can only consistently and effectively follow him if we learn to recognise his voice and then respond with obedience.
As disciples of Jesus we are constantly looking to him to hear what he wants us to do – and then living it out. That’s the essence of discipleship: hear and obey.
Listen to what Jesus says at the end of the Sermon on the Mount:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24
It’s not enough to simply hear Jesus’ words to us – we also need to align our lives with them and obey.
We can have the most incredible 3D technicolour visions, encounter angels, and hear the audible voice of God (and there’s nothing wrong with pursuing those things), but if we don’t respond – if we don’t allow God’s voice to change us and change the world around us – there is a problem somewhere. We have to learn how to walk in obedience to whatever God is speaking to us about.
When God speaks to us he speaks for a purpose and he looks for a response. There is a profound intentionality to God’s spoken words to us. We need to be active responders to his revelation rather than passive receivers.
We need to remember that the voice of God is here to change us, not just make us feel good. When God speaks to us it’s an invitation to transformation. Sometimes the transformation will be internal – a change of heart or mind – and sometimes the transformation will be external – where we need to change our behaviour or environment – but God is always in the business of renewal. He speaks into our lives as a Good Father who desires to conform us to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29) and to use us as instruments of transformation in the world around us.
So, how do we become good responders to God’s voice? How do we learn to walk into the fulfilment of his precious words to us?
As I’ve coached many people over the years one thing I’ve noticed is that the ones who are prepared to make concrete, specific and accountable plans in response to God’s voice are usually the people who step into the greatest levels of transformation and grow fastest in the prophetic. When God speaks to us, whether he is speaking deeply into our identity, showing us how to tackle homelessness in our city, or anything in between, we need a plan. True discipleship is more than a theoretical acknowledgement of the truth of what he’s saying or vague notions of how we might chew over his words to us. We need to learn to respond intentionally and wholeheartedly every time the Good Shepherd speaks into our lives.
So the next time God speaks to you, for you, how about asking yourself these two questions:
- How do I start to step into this in a very practical way over the next few days?
- Who am I going to be accountable to?