When You Open Your Bible, Labor to Listen

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Since the beginning, God has blessed his people by speaking to them. Humanity was only moments out of the dust of the earth when our Creator communicated with us: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them . . .” (Gen. 1:27–28).

Immediately after creating us, God came near to us. Near enough that we could hear him speak, learn his voice.

We often read those words in Genesis without blinking an eye. We read the conversations God had with Abraham, Jacob, and Moses, fully believing the Lord personally spoke to each of them. But often our faith begins to waver when it comes to us. He spoke to them, but do we believe he speaks to us?

Answering that question requires gut-level honesty from each of us. Amid all the trials and troubles this life brings, we can begin to believe God is far-off, distant, unconcerned, or silent. Yet this is far from true.

God is speaking. To you. Right now. The only question is: Are you listening?

God speaks through the Scriptures. Knowing his Word is a necessary component to hearing his voice. As you read, here are five ways to posture and position yourself to better hear God’s voice.

1. Read with Humility

Humility opens our ears to hear God speak. As we read his Word, we humble ourselves in submission under his authority. We allow it to shape us, not demanding it change to fit cultural norms or our own perceived needs and desires. We approach God’s Word with plenty of room to ask questions and seek understanding. As we do, though, we must not be arrogant, critical, or casual. We must acknowledge our own need to “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).

2. Read with Diligence

Each of us is capable of reading and understanding Scripture, but it requires considerable effort. We learn to hear God’s voice as we gain insight into his will through consistent and careful examination of his Word. The learning curve is steep, but there’s a cumulative effect to the study of God’s Word.

The learning curve is steep, but there’s a cumulative effect to the study of God’s Word.

So keep at it. Patiently persist. Don’t “grow weary of doing good,” because “in due season we will reap” (Gal. 6:9). The more you read and study, the more you will understand and hopefully love.

3. Read with Expectation

When we read the Bible, our first assumption must be that it speaks. More pointedly, we must assume God speaks to us exactly where we are. Through the determined study of his Word, expect God to teach, comfort, confront, strengthen, and transform you.

“Without faith it is impossible to please him,” the author of Hebrews writes, “for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6). We faithfully read God’s Word when we expect him to speak.

4. Read to Listen

You can’t hear if you don’t listen. Listening is required in the formation and maintenance of every human relationship. It’s equally important in forming and maintaining our relationship with God. When he created us as relational beings, he opened communication between us and himself as a mutual endeavor.

Like any worthy pursuit, listening to God requires time, intentionality, and purpose. We must tune our ears to hear his voice in the pages of his Word (Mark 4:9).

5. Read with Prayer

Hearing God speak is a spiritual endeavor. Any difficulty we have in hearing God’s voice, then, is much more a spiritual matter than an intellectual one. As we open our Bibles, we should pray over our time and efforts, knowing we can only hear by him by his grace and mercy.

Like the Ephesian Christians, we need the help of the Holy Spirit: “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” (Eph. 1:16–17).

In the Bible, God makes himself known, presently speaking to each of us. Open his Word with humility and diligence, eagerly listening to his voice. Pray for a willing, pliable, attentive heart—and then expect to hear him speak.

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