Comedian Lily Tomlin once said, “Why is it that when we talk to God we’re said to be praying, but when God talks to us we’re schizophrenic?”
That quote may make you laugh but it points to something that is part of our Christian worldview, namely that God is not deaf or mute. We talk to God through prayer and we believe God can talk back.
And yet if this is true — and I believe it is — then why don’t we hear God’s voice more clearly and more often than we do?
As a Vineyard pastor I receive a church planting magazine called “Cutting Edge.” In the current edition, pastor Ken Wilson reviews a forthcoming book by Tanya Luhrmann called “When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God.” An intriguing title indeed! Much of what you will read below is paraphrased from that article.
In modern society most people must work very hard to experience God. This may sound jarring to you, yet it was what John Wimber (founder of the Vineyard movement) believed.
Why? Because the busyness of our lives and our worldview in general often obscures or marginalizes God and our experience of Him.
The bottom line: there are obstacles to be overcome if American Christians are to experience God. A person must be pulling to put in the effort.
People learn to experience God in the way that humans learn many things.
We need to help people view their minds as an inner landscape where God is already at work, often through whispers or nudges from the Holy Spirit. And it takes work — mainly, the work of paying attention, of comparing notes with others and with Scripture, of noticing patterns — to discern this presence.
As we head into the climax of Holy Week — Good Friday and Easter Sunday — put forth some effort to practice the presence of God:
- Turn off the “noise” in your life like the TV and sports talk radio to make room for the still, small voice of God.
- Pick up a Bible and read portions like Mark 14-16 over and over again.
- Spend time “being still.”
- Pray Psalm 139:23-24: Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Grab a journal and record the thoughts that come to mind.
- Treat church on Good Friday and Easter Sunday as the “main event” of those two days and not something to “get out of the way” so you can have your family party.
***Join us this weekend at The Eastside Vineyard Church. Our Good Friday service is on April 6th at 7pm (childcare is available) and our Easter Sunday service is at 10:30am on April 8th. At both there will be worship, communion, and in-depth Bible teaching, and an opportunity to receive 1-on-1 prayer. More info at tevchurch.org***