The same way it happened to the prophets of old… through prayer!
But God does not always answer as we want. Sometimes he corrects through actions. Sometimes the circumstance we are in becomes an answer. But these corrections are out of love as Hebrews 12:6 states:
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.
Why does God do this? Because it is and always has been about God’s glory.
This means, there are times when our glory must suffer. In the extreme… this would be martyrdom for the sake of Jesus.
Now, I used to think that if only I could see Jesus in person, and ask Him all sorts of questions, then I would be satisfied! But the disciple Philip lived with the person of Jesus and well, just listen to his request!
8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
So, if we see Jesus then we see the Father and therefore, we see God.
If you want to know how God is, read the gospels of Christ. Notice how Jesus spoke. He often hid the truth in perplexing parables. Why?
10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
In the extreme sense, even an unbeliever going to hell brings glory to God’s law. It is justified and holy as the Lord wills it to be.
But just listen to Nicodemus’ strange conversation with Jesus in John 3
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
You’d think that Jesus would then speak to him plainly. But instead, he continues to speak in metaphors.
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
So, all Christians born of the Spirit are mysterious in their goings and comings. Our doctrine and culture are very strange to the world. Sounds about right!
There was even a time when Jesus actually spoke plainly, and to this, his disciples rejoiced!
29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Our Pride in Prayers
It is in our pride that we profess, “If only God spoke plainly we would believe without doubting.” He did do this, and still many of his disciples fled when He was taken to be crucified. Peter, the most prideful of them all, denied Christ three times!
And I have denied Christ many more…
The Israelite saw a manifestation of God day and night as they fled from Egypt. They watched as God destroyed the armies of Pharaoh. Before their very eyes, they saw many great miracles, signs, and wonders… and still in the end, at the very mountain where God reveals his perfect law to Moses, tThe Israelite break the first commandment and built a golden calf (Exodus 32).
I had an old roommate who was an atheist. He’d been in church his whole life and still he denied God. If only God had shown Him a miracle… well, he probably would have denied that to.
People don’t believe in Christ because they don’t want to.
It has nothing to do with a lack of facts, or truths.
Nudgings of the Spirit
And so, from this strange understanding, in my prayers, I have felt the nudgings of the Spirit. They have led me down many strange and hard roads. Yet in the end, they will all bring glory to God! Even if I am in error, God foresaw the sin and He will ultimately bring it under correction, a correction based on His love for me.
In the end, all are brought into correction for the glory of God in His judgment.
And if I am in error, I deeply prayer that God corrects me much sooner than His judgment.
Sometimes this means, he allows the error of my ways to meet its end (hopefully in this lifetime). And then, at the end of myself, His law breaks me and I find the grace of Christ very ready and active to receive me.
In this, you must understand that hearing from God is not like a typical conversation.
A question asked in prayer… and God immediately replies with actual words…
It is mysterious.
Only faith can bring us to an understand of Him. Faith that the bible is true. Faith the the church is His. Faith that His response to us is good.
And all according to His goodness…
A Mandate for Prophesy Through Prayer
Prophecy outside of the scriptures is a mystery. But there is a biblical mandate for it. When Paul spoke to the Corinthians, this was during a time without the written Word of God.
And so, the Word of God tells us through Paul’s letter in 1 Corinthians 12:1-3 that unlike paganism, the gifts of the Spirit will not curse Jesus. They will instead reveal that Jesus is Lord. This includes the gift of prophecy.
It is not for the occultic practices which stray deeply from God.
It is not for your own personal glory.
Don’t be like the magician Simon in Acts 8:9-24.
Hearing from God begins with reading the Word of God. It continues by going to a church that preaches from the Word of God. And It continues even further through our prayers.
How Do We Do This?
So, how can one hear from God? Pray to Him and ask!
Jesus said in John 16
22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me…
I believe that Jesus is talking about His second coming when after this, our joy may be full and so we will not need to ask for anything. The verse continues with our present predicament, when our joy is not full and it can be stolen from us.
…Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
What type of things should we ask for?
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
So, where are these “spiritual nudges” found in scripture? Jesus says:
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
So, ask in His name (not yours) and receive.
Seek in His name (not yours) and find.
Knock in His name (not yours) and the door shall be opened.
8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.