I met Mary Kathryn at a writers get together in east Texas. During lunch, someone asked her “What makes your heart sing?” Without hesitation and with her eyes glowing with passion, she replied “I believe women need to slow down and dig deeply into God’s Word.” She was singing my song! It was almost like I heard her say “We need to Soak in God’s Word, and Sprout Seeds of Faith!” (wink, wink).
There is such wisdom and meat to MK’s post! I hope you enjoy it!
Don’t forget to follow her on social media – I think you’ll love her mini-posts on Facebook!
While We Wait
I watched my four-year-old as she played, flattening and rolling and stretching the play-doh in her capable hands.
“J.J.,” I beckoned. No answer.
“Julianne…,” I tried once more.
When she didn’t respond, I moved to sit beside her.
“Julianne, I need you to stop what you’re doing and look in my eyes. I have something important to tell you.”
I watched as she obediently, albeit slowly, laid down her toys and lifted her face, her blue eyes finally locking with mine. Once I knew I had her attention, I felt free to speak and tell her what she needed to know.
As a parent, I might run through this scene hourly. Getting our children’s attention can be an infuriating task, as they move about their days wrapped up in their own little worlds. Recently, however, God has been showing me how often I do this with Him. Even in seasons like I am in today, seasons where I am anxious for His guidance and direction, I struggle to sit long enough to receive it.
In the midst of this struggle, I have learned some practical steps to take to prepare my heart to hear from God. Using the spiritual disciplines of confession, fasting, and waiting I have learned how to lay down my to-dos and lock eyes with Christ.
Open Your Ears Through Confession:
As a Protestant-raised Christian, confession wasn’t something I was explicitly taught how to do. And if I’m honest, I didn’t value this practice until I was married. As a young married woman, I quickly learned that anger and hurt can cloud the communications channels between my husband and me. And where there is strained communication, there is strained intimacy. We soon learned the importance of confessing to one another and asking for forgiveness in order to stay connected.
The same is true in our walk with God. So often we go to sit at Christ’s feet, begging to hear a word from Him, without realizing there is sin clogging our communication channels. Our hearts cannot clearly echo His gentle whisper if they are crowded with unconfessed sin.
When we need to hear from the Lord, we must sit and ask the Lord to search our hearts. Personally, I like to sit with pen and paper so as He brings things to mind, I can jot them down. As I write them out, I confess them to the Lord and then I cross them out, repenting and asking for the strength to overcome them. Through the practice of confession and repentance, the ears of our hearts are opened, and we will be able to clearly hear the voice of God.
Whet Your Appetite Through Fasting:
Fasting is another discipline the church rarely discusses. In Matthew 9:15, however, we read that Jesus expects us to fast in His absence. I love how John Piper describes it when he says, “Fasting is a physical exclamation point at the end of our pleas to God.” While fasting often reveals our sins, its main function is to stir our longing for Christ’s return, His presence, and His voice in our lives.
Fasting from a meal and spending that time in prayer demonstrates our desire to feast on the word of God, more than the bread of man. It whets our appetite to hear from Him. It aids in the process of opening our hearts to what He might have to say.
Watch the Horizon Through Waiting:
As I am in this season of waiting, the verse echoing in my mind is Psalm 27:14, in which King David exhorts:
“Wait for the Lord. Be strong, take heart, and wait for the Lord.”
The Hebrew provides a beautiful, two-part picture of what it looks like to actively wait.
The Hebrew word for “wait” is “qavah” and literally means, to “look eagerly for.” David is not calling us to wait passively! The image painted here is of a watchman scanning the horizon for signs of his master. It is of a father awaiting the return of his prodigal son. It is of a woman fully engaged– her mind, body, and soul leaning forward, actively searching, expecting to hear from God.
The second part of active waiting is to “be strong and take heart.” In the Hebrew, both of these phrases mean to make strong or to harden. I love this! There is a sense of digging in and digging deep, resolving to hold fast to truth.
There are certainly times in life when we need to take steps of faith, not knowing where they may lead. But there are other times when we need to simply sit and wait expectantly for His word to dawn. As I wait to receive instruction from the Lord, it is tempting to move forward before I’ve truly heard from Him. These words remind me to be strong– to resolve myself to wait until I hear His voice and to hold fast to the truth that as His sheep I will hear his voice.
It is important to note that these spiritual disciplines are not designed to persuade or manipulate God to speak; rather, they are designed to position our hearts to listen.
If you are struggling to hear from God today, I challenge you to walk through these three disciplines. As you read your Bible and meditate on His word, trust that His spirit is speaking. Know that He longs for you to hear him. I truly believe, through confession, fasting, and waiting you will be able to hear His still small voice.
Oh Father, may we be willing to do this work! May we be willing to prepare our hearts to hear from You. May we be willing to lay down our agendas and lock eyes with You, our Savior. Help us today to be strong, take heart, and wait for You. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.
Mary Kathryn Tiller lives in East Texas with her husband, two children, and thirty head of cattle. She is passionate about leading women to cultivate faithful hearts and spends most of her free time writing to that end at her blog MaryKathrynTiller.com. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys riding around their family land and reading books on her porch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mary Kathryn Tiller, Writer and on Instagram.