Question: I am encouraged by your teaching on intimacy with God, my question is on the analysis of the cycle of intimacy with God and the aspect of listening. Will I hear an external thought or voice?
Thank you for asking this question, I will clarify so it will not be misleading. I’ve never heard an external voice of God but I can tell you that I’ve heard the voice of God so many times and I know a lot of us have; where you are reading scriptures and what is happening is that there are specific things that are being spoken to you directly and these thoughts are strong in your mind. You know, when the bible says “don’t quench the spirit”, it’s not talking about an abstraction, because it says that “the spirit and the flesh are at war within us” and the field of the battle is within us, in our minds and hearts. This is not an abstraction because we know that when the flesh is talking; that is, those things that appeal to our desires, that we know is sinful, we hear the voices yet not audibly. For example, can you not have a conversation with yourself without hearing yourself or deeply? I’m sure you do. You can even pray sometimes without speaking audibly and so, as we are reading the scriptures, we are asking and we are listening, and by listening it means that you pause and you will hear God. For example, there are times I say, “God, I need to be close to you, I want you to help me be close to you” and God says, “Okay, so stop spending too much time on YouTube” or He tells me, “Yes, that’s why you need to be more disciplined with your time of reading” or “that’s why you shouldn’t take that phone call when you are doing some particular things you have earlier decided to do” Of course, I know these are from God.
Distractions train us not to be able to hear the voice of God, by putting a lot of noise in us. That is what happened to Martha and when you start having so much noise, it recreates you in such a way that yes, you will want to talk to God, but then it is a god of your own making because God is no longer the centre of the universe, you are. Then you start seeing God as the God who is just there to meet your every need. There is a conviction that the spirit brings in your spirit, an encouragement when you start to pray and worship. When we come into God’s presence not feeling great, or feeling condemned, then all of a sudden as we read, and get the inspiration about Jesus and start to worship, then all of a sudden, what Romans 5:5 says about God flooding our hearts with his love? You start to feel it and while I’m not guaranteeing that you get this experience all the time but these experiences are real and we don’t have to experience them audibly to validate them.
Answered by Femi Osunnuyi is lead pastor of City Church, a gospel-centred urban church in the city of Lagos. Because of his passion for church planting and leadership development he also serves on the Lead Team of Acts29 and the Advisory Team of City to City Africa. He is happily married to Tosin and is father to Tofunmi and Timilehin.