Do you hope or expect to hear from The Lord? That was the question we asked in Part One of this two-part series. Prayerfully you’ve had some time to chew on that. The key to answering the question has to do with what your relationship with God is like. In any relationship, if you want to communicate with someone, you need to eliminate distractions. Here are five ways to eliminate distractions and hear from The Lord more clearly.
1. Ask for God to speak to you and expect Him to speak
Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone in a crowded or busy place? Mom’s and Dad’s, ever try to talk to your spouse with kids running around? Each of those two scenarios assume that you want to talk to and listen to someone else. It’s really no different with The Lord.
You have to go into it wanting to talk to Him and to hear back from Him in some way. The cool thing about God is that He can talk back to you in any number of ways at any point of the day, even when you are doing something else. More than that, you can be listening to Him while doing other things, if you choose to.
I’m not saying that’s how you should do it. I am saying that setting specific time to converse with God isn’t the only time you should expect to hear from Him. I’m saying that you can be intentionally listening to Him every waking moment of the day if you choose to. You will be surprised how often you hear Him speaking. The act of choosing to listen for God, in itself, will reduce distractions, because you are trying.
Here is a funny clip from a British TV show called Clatterford (UK) or Jam and Jerusalem (USA) depending on where it was marketed. The Vicor (Pastor) is trying to pray and hear from The Lord but he has a bit of a distraction in the form of Rosie who asks some very good questions.
2. Put your device in Airplane Mode
As convenient as it is to read your Bible or devotional on your smart phone, tablet, or laptop, it’s also the thing that can distract you the most. Using the device through which you engage the rest of the planet for work communication and social media means that work and social media can reach you when you are trying to connect with the King of the Universe.
When you are reading your Bible on your device and you get a text, Facebook notification, or Twitter, or Snapchat, blah blah blah, you will get distracted. Guaranteed. Unless you have an extraordinary amount of self control, you are at the very least going to be thinking about that thing that popped up. Was it important? Was it funny? Was it awesome?!
For me, I get OCD when I see the little red circle with a number in it. I screams to me, “Deal with me! I’m important” Here is a picture of my phone right now.
Yes, I have three task manager apps, all with red dots and numbers, and that’s just on the home screen. I know they are there even if I’m not in task management mode. So, at the very least, if you are one who uses a gizmo for Bible reading, prayer lists, or devotions, put your gizmo in Airplane Mode so nothing new pops up. Which leads me to the next tip.
3. Use a paper Bible and journal instead of your device
That’s right, go old school. A paper Bible and journal don’t have pop-up notifications. They don’t ding when your BFF posts a new Snap with the latest filter. Put your device in Airplane Mode and use paper stuff for the good stuff.
In fact, when it comes to a paper Bible, I will go one step farther old school; don’t use a study Bible. Study Bibles are great, when you want to study. But when you just want to read, when you want to fill up on what is more than bread (Deuteronomy 8:3), those notes, maps, and pictures, can be just as distracting as your phone. You want to hear from God directly about your day.
Use a paper journal to write down your thoughts, observations, prayers, what you think you hear God saying. It is less distracting that using an app, and studies show that physically writing makes our brains retain information better. Besides, it’s just quieter.
4. Focus more on hearing from God instead of what to post on social media
There is an odd temptation when it comes to intentionally taking the time to hear from God, especially when your phone is in your hand; we want to post it. I love this video.
Tell me you’ve never done that? I confess that have. As I’m reading I’m looking for a verse or a thought or something I can turn into one of those inspiration pictures. You know, cool text with a desert or mountain or sparkly lights behind it. Suddenly I’m not listening for God’s voice, I’m thinking about Instagram filters. I think of the coffee shops with the cool wooden tables to use as a background so I go there to do my devos. I think the sunrise on the river this morning is going to be great, so I go there for some pics for my scripts, oh and a walk with God.
Just go or be somewhere with minimal distractions for you, choosing to focus on God’s voice. Think about what God wants to share with you, not what you want to share with Facebook. Besides, you have something better to focus on; this last tip.
5. Look for ways to use or share in person what you heard
It might sound contrary to #4, but it isn’t. There is a different mindset when we are thinking about sharing something on social media. Let’s just be honest about it. We are thinking about how we will look. We are thinking about self. That’s the exact opposite of the point of spending time with The Lord.
Instead, keep an ear and an eye out for someone, or a situation throughout your day, where you can share with the the specific person that God wants to connect with through you. It’s called a Divine Appointment. Maybe the thing you heard from God isn’t just for you, or isn’t for you at all. He has a message for you to deliver to someone else, and because it came from you it’s going to change their lives.
God wants to partner with you. He has missions for you. It might be someone in the hallway at school, in the break room at work, or sitting next to you at the DMV. If your Holy Spirit Radar is on and He highlights someone, listen for what to say or do next. God wants to do that through you. Be ready, willing and able.
Here is the short version of the tips list.
- Choose to hear from Him
- Choose to not be distracted
- Choose the right tools
- Choose to focus
- Choose to share
Here is one more tip. Take that list, write it on a sticky note and put it someplace where you will see it first thing in the morning. If you want to change your expectation of hearing from God then you need to change the way you think about it. The word “repent” meant to change the way you think so that you will change the way you act.
Post the list somewhere and create some new thinking habits. You will notice God speaking more and more to you, and through you.
[reminder]I would love to hear how you reduce distraction in your life. What are some of your tips? How has this list helped you?[/reminder]