Listening to the Holy Spirit: Finding Your Faith’s Ear

Seven ways to start or re-start your discernment skills. God speaks. How will we learn to listen?

Your equipping skill: Listening Prayers of the heart and growing in discernment

Listening to the Holy Spirit is Central to a living Faith.

What “listening to the Holy Spirit” means

  • The Holy spirit testifies to Christ, guides, inspires and motivates us.  Listening to the Holy Spirit means prioritizing God’s word above other sources.
  • Too often we worship our preferences.  This leads us to blind and deaf spots where we cannot hear what God has to say. 

What this does NOT mean

  • This is not divining the future
  • This is not “Fire Insurance”, insuring a financial or other success.
  • This does not put you or I in charge. Servant Leaders are First Followers
  • This is not manipulating God to do our will.
  • This is not prayer per se, but prayer is the vehicle by which we listen. It is God doing all of the work while we work at listening.

Equipping with Authority

  • This article is focused on the Concrete more than the theorhetical. God is the speaker and will use your preferences to find your listening ear.
  • Central to listening for God is Having an intentional plan. This post should not imply that teaching a mechanical skill-is all that it takes. These 7 actions are ways to intentionally equip yourself to listen
  • Scripture, Tradition, Reason & Experience are all tests for The Spirit. The Holy Spirit will never contradict scripture, tradition changes to meet the day but gives us context and community, truth makes sense by faith-Fod gave us a mind to use. Finally, all experiences teach something. Pay attention and listen carefully to all four of these as you do these activities. Keep it simple-listen.

1. Disciplined Time with God through Bible study and prayer.

  • God has already spoken through His Word. The more time you spend with God through reading His Word and through prayer, the more familiar you’ll become with His voice.
  • This is important because God will never tell you to do anything that contradicts His written Word. The more time you spend time with God, the more familiar you will become with His voice.

2. Memorize Scripture in context

  • The Bible is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). It will change you, transform you, make you more receptive to hear God’s voice.
  • It’s not enough to simply read the Word. Search the Scripture and “Hide it in your Heart”. (Psalm 119:11)
  • Many times the Holy Spirit will use the Word to guide you. This becomes so much easier if you actually have the Word in your heart.

3. Create a balanced life of prayer: ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (Requests).

  • No one like to be around someone who does all of the talking.
  • Don’t just run into prayer with your checklist in hand and pray, “Dear God, please help me here, bless this, bless that, protect them, help me have a good day. Amen.” Spend time listening.
  • You may not hear anything, but it’s important to remember that prayer is a conversation with God, not a list of needs and desires. .

4. Seek Silence Every Day

  • Look at the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19 and you’ll see that God chose to speak to Elijah through a gentle whisper. God often chooses to speak through a still, small voice, and not a shout! Faith beckons us to listen in order to hear.
  • God wants us to remove all the distractions from our lives and focus on Him. Find a consistent time and a dedicated place to be silent before God everyday and hear God’s gentle whisper.

5. Have a Spiritual Director and wise counselors

  • God doesn’t speak exclusively to you. He also speaks to those around you. The book of Proverbs talks a lot about the necessity of seeking wise counsel.
  • When the Holy Spirit speaks to you, seek someone wise to be your prayer partner. Carefully and prayerfully seek the wise counsel of those around you. Pray for God to bring these human resources.

6. Intentionally Listen for God in Daily Decisions

  • Don’t just do something, Sit there
  • Practice makes perfect. We have been given a spirit of discernment by our Father. The Holy Spirit is God. God wants us to know the difference between God’s voice and the many enemies competing for our own thoughts.
  • It takes discernment, and the only way to figure it out is to start practicing. This does NOT legitimize procrastination.

7. Be obedient

  • Don’t just sit there, Do something. 
  • Listening to the Holy Spirit requires obedience. Search through the book of Acts. It is a diary of the Holy Spirit speaking to the early church. The “Spirit” is used in Acts 67 different times. The reason the Spirit is still leading and motivating the church today is because the church obeyed the Spirit when Jesus’ Church heard His voice.
  • Do the last thing God told you to do.  If God hasn’t spoken to you, perhaps it’s because you didn’t obey the last thing God told you to do. God may be silent until you finish what He started. When the Spirit speaks, it’s not meant as a suggestion. If you want the Holy Spirit to continue to speak to you, obey God when God speaks

NOW WHAT?  What transforming change will you make today? These “Doing” activities can and will point you to “Being” in Christ. The point of this excercise is to strengthen faith and create a more intimate relationship with God. Listen well and hear God’s loving and still small voice.

Some resources for further study:

Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton

Anatomy of a Deceased Church by Thom Rainer (Praying together)

When God is Silent by Barbara Brown Taylor ( The Section on Silence)

The Once and Future Wesleyan Movement by Scott J. Jones ( The Holy Spirit p. 57)

(c) Alan Van Hooser, “The Thoughtful Pastor”, 2022 all rights reserved.

Ask 4 an Intentional Faith: A simple habit for life’s complex answers

The equipping skill: creating and strengthening good and intentional faith habits.

A recent health scare forced a month of isolation and reflection upon me. This created time to take stock. I realized, reluctantly, that I was living much of my life on auto-pilot with Body mind and soul. After much reflection I’m making this response, I am beginning a “Year of Intentional Living”.

Join me and see where we might go together. Add a reply at the bottom and share your journey.

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.” James Clear, from his book Atomic Habits

For better or worse, we are the sum of our habits. I want to be and become a person of intentional faith in Jesus. People of any faith have faith goal goal. I take this journey as a follower of Jesus Christ. I want to be intentional about faith. My daily habits should include actions that lead me to an INTENTIONAL, thriving faith.

One daily habit is to test yourself. Ask four simple questions at the end of each dlay to test the intentionality of your faith-building. I am journaling my answers nightly. A reminder card is taped to my bedside lamp to cue me to stop and think. Weekly I share my journey with fellow church members and a trusted small group, for accountability. The reward is to go to sleep at night knowing that I truly lover each moment of the day. Here is how it might work for you

Printed cards provide the “Cue” to act. this one stays folded up in my pocket. More than anything, the card is a constant and intentional reminder. Write down your answers daily. If you don’t have an answer, intentionally do better tomorrow. Here are the four questions.

(You can have a card by request-contact me or enter a reply. I don’t share your contact info. )

When did I Pray today? Read Mark 11:15-26. When did you Thank, listen, speak and then move in prayer. Can’t remember? Make an appointment with God for tomorrow.

What did I learn today? Read Matthew 7:9-13 and find a familiar starting point. Poke around the scripture for a few minutes. Can’t remember? Make an appointment with God’s word tomorrow.

What did I teach today? Read Romans 12:1-8 and seize an opportunity to be a living sacrifice. Don’t TELL, SHOW your faith. Can’t remember? Think of a way to live what you learn from scripture and show someone.

What did I leave behind today that mattered? Read Romans 12:9-21. Where did you Love, Encourage, forgive, comfort, or do other meaningful things? Can’t remember? Watch closely for a God size opportunity tomorrow.

For added punch, share your victories, or opportunities for improvement, with a trusted friend. The journey of faith is always better with a co-traveller.

Where could Faith make your life richer? what do you intend to do about it? Take this cue and “Ask 4”! Make a bold and intentional step for yourself.

For additional study, read “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, Avery Press, 2018. A sensible look at creating positive improvements in life-including your Faith Journey.

(c) Alan Van Hooser, “The Thoughtful Pastor”, 2022 all rights reserved.

Meet the Day; Lose the “MASK”

Face coverings come in many styles ranging from industrial-disposable blue to fashion-colored bling. One man, seen at Kroger, wore one with the lower half of his own face printed on it. They help filter any COVID laden spit, can help our current crisis and certainly won’t hurt anything.   Meet the Day, Wear this MASK.

Equipping skill: being transparent with God by faith and growing in genuineness with others

There another mask that we choose to wear to make us feel safer.  This one  won’t help but does hurt and some choose to wear them anyway. This is the false face we often use to hide our true self.  I don’t mean a positive attitude in a bad situation or the courtesy of not unpacking your emotional junk in a social situation. Wear this mask, Lose the day.  This mask is the stress inducing false face that we wear before others when we think we aren’t enough.

Face coverings mess up our communications. From Travis Bradberry, (wearing masks)“…our facial expressions are blocked. And we rely on facial expressions to understand emotions when words are mismatched with tone even more than you might think. According to a UCLA study, facial expressions account for 55% of successful communication when words and tone sound inconsistent.” Protective masks can create misunderstanding in communication, whether intentional or not.

Intentional false coving is far more destructive. The energy needed to maintain it is exhausting. We eventually believe the lie and even think we can hide our true self from God. This denies access to God’s forgiveness and blocks the daily living communion with God that we desperately need. This mask tells God to step back, that we are the authors of our faith, and we lose the capacity to be genuine with God or people.

Romans 12:9-13 says, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.”

This describes the true face of faith, the place of healing and the source of peace. The genuine life is loving, rejoicing, hope filled and lived in ACTION. So, live well. Cover your mouth and nose. Uncover your heart. You are His beloved, you are enough and you don’t need the false stuff. This is where true life comes from. Live it well.

Pray the REBEL’s prayer with me, “Jesus in you I am enough!”

The GODWORD: A word to share with you

The Equipping skill for this post: creating a strategy to build an awareness of faith in a busy life

The first word guiding this blog is invitation. You are invited to join me, Slow down for a minute and breathe. What if you could start your daily walk in Christ with a single word?

I start my day with a single focusing word-a GODWORD. This is a guide word that snaps me back when my mind gets away from me. It is prayerfully discerned, reinforced by scripture and stays on my phone as a touchstone.

You are invited to receive & share this guide-word/Godword with me by text or email. A new addition is to see the post here daily. The devotional goes out in the morning or other special time. You are invited to ponder the GODWORD and the READ THE WHOLE BIBLE PASSAGE. I use the Bible Gateway app, It is quick and easy. Return to it through the day. Note that these are not archived. Each on stands alone just as the Christ meets our needs as “daily bread”

Anyone wishing to receive them can email their cell number or email address to revavanhooser@aol.com.  There is no cost.  This is a private list and comes as an Individual contact-not in a group.  Contact info is never shared and if you  wish to be removed from the list, simply contact me and I will take you off without comment. (Please check your text policy with your provider before you sign up. There have been rare format problems. Contact me and we will work something out.)

The purpose is to connect my day with friends and be held accountable by you to my daily discipline.  Comments are welcome.

Thanks for being my fellow traveler in Christ. Please share the GODWORD and send other scriptures that give you focus in a comment below.