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When We Pray - Hearing God, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
May 17, 2023 6:00 am

When We Pray - Hearing God, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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May 17, 2023 6:00 am

Most people talk about prayer like it is all about them speaking to God. Like, How long should I pray? What are the right words? But have you ever thought about what God might want to say to us? In this program, guest teacher Ryan Ingram considers that thought as he picks up in his series When We Pray. Don’t miss why listening to God is vital to deeper intimacy with Him.


As a pastor for over 35 years, I often hear people talk about prayer like it's all about them talking to God. What do I say? How long do I say it?

What are the right words? Have you ever considered what it means to hear from God in prayer? That's today. Don't miss it. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. We are a discipleship-driven ministry on a mission to encourage Christians everywhere to live like Christians. And as many of you are aware, Chip's our regular Bible teacher, but for the past several programs, his son Ryan Ingram has been sharing a new series called When We Pray. We hope his teaching has challenged you to reevaluate and refocus your prayer life. And to help others learn as you have, would you take a minute after this message and share it with a friend or loved one?

Now, you can do that through the Chip Ingram app or by sending them the free MP3s that you'll find at In these last two programs, Ryan focuses on a forgotten aspect of prayer. He'll point out that when we talk to God, we don't wait to hear what he wants to say to us. So if you're ready, go to Exodus chapter three in your Bibles, and let's learn how to be better listeners when we pray. Today we're going to talk about hearing prayer. Hearing prayer. Like how do you hear God when you pray?

Like if prayer is the primary pathway to intimacy with God, fundamentally we kind of think of prayer like talking, or at least maybe that's the way I've thought about it a lot is I'm talking to God, and yet it's a two-way street, isn't it? If you're going to do communication, it's talking and listening. And by the way, there's no like spouses, elders, elbows to your mate, like yeah, listening. See, you're supposed to listen, communication. But how do we listen? How do we hear from God? I need a word from God. I need direction from God.

I've been looking and searching, and I'm longing and hoping, and this relationship or this work issue or what's going on at home, like I need a word from God. How do I hear from God? Like does God still speak?

Like we talk about these stories and hear it in like the Bible times. Does he still speak today? And if he does speak, how can you be sure he's speaking to you? How do you know it's like his voice speaking and directing to you?

And so we just want to wrestle with this. It's like how do you, you know, not just talk to God, but actually hear God talk to you? How do you not just have a conversation that's a one-way street, but actually hear God talk to you? Today we're going to look at probably the most famous passage in all of the Bible of God talking to a person. Even if you don't have a background when it comes to God or Christianity, you've probably heard about this story. And here's the problem about hearing about a story for many of us is we, I think we often draw perhaps not the right conclusions.

They lead us astray. And in fact, we're going to discover five foundational truths today of how to encounter and hear the voice of God from a person who encountered God, a guy named Moses. If you got your Bibles, would you open up to Exodus chapter three, Exodus chapter three, verse one is where we're going to be at today. And Moses, a little background context, he's the great leader and liberator of the Israelite people.

They were in bondage and slavery for 400 years. God raises up Moses. He is the prince of Egypt. He tries to fulfill his calling in a bad way, literally murder, not good, and then flees for his life. And he's been spending 40 years in the wilderness and he's been tending sheep, got married, had a family. And really if you just kind of look at this and back this up, here's a guy with the best pedigree, the best education and clearly had a calling on his life. And he's been wasting it in the wilderness for 40 years, far from where he was designed and what he was called to do.

And that is exactly where we pick up the story today. Exodus chapter three, verse one says this, now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and he came to Horeb. It's a mountain range. You know the specific mountain, Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire, it did not burn up. So Moses thought, I'll go over and see the strange sight.

Why the bush does not burn up. When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, Moses, Moses. And Moses said, here I am. Before we dive into the five foundational truths, would you just pray with me to invite the Holy Spirit to speak to us.

He wants to speak to you right now in this moment. Heavenly Father, we thank you for this moment. We thank you for this time to gather and to worship and invite you to have your way, to get me out of the way. And that you would speak to every single person who is listening, that there would be an openness and receptivity of their heart and a responsiveness to your word. And so we invite you in this moment to speak in Jesus' name. And all God's people said, amen. Five foundational truths for hearing God.

The first one that we must know if we're really gonna develop understanding how to hear from God is this. God is closer than you think. God is closer than you think. Now, I think when we read this story, we would kind of draw the conclusion that God is farther than we think. Because where was Moses? He was on the far side of the wilderness. And I go like, well, maybe to like really hear from God, I got to do a pilgrimage. Maybe I can only hear from God on Sundays when I show up at church that I have to find some holy place and somehow then be able to hear from God.

And the truth and the reality of this moment is actually God is far closer than you think and realize or recognize or understand. See, the text and the way it is set up is Moses on the far side of the wilderness. It's not so much saying that he had done this pilgrimage to the mountain of God.

In fact, it was named the mountain of God afterwards, not before. It's that Moses was actually far outside his calling. Moses was in a season of wandering. Moses was going through a period of life from the outward perspective, we would say wasted, wandering.

In fact, he's so far from home. And here's the truth, that Moses was on the far side of the wilderness, but he wasn't far from God. Moses was far outside his calling, but he wasn't far from God. Like there was no place he could go or where he could turn that God was not already present and active and working.

See, God was closer than he thought. There's two big theological ideas we got to understand here. And the first is the transcendence of God.

The second is the eminence of God. The transcendence of God says that God is wholly other and distinct from creation, existing independently of his creation, that he's completely other. He's not a part of creation. He is outside of it. He created all that we see and understand.

He is great and beyond it. And in his transcendence, he is eminence, meaning that God is presence in all of his creation in a personal, intimate way while remaining distinct. See, there is no place that you can go that God is not already present. There is no path that you can walk down upon which God has not already been there to meet you right where you're at. In fact, the psalmist, Psalm 139, would say it this way.

Great psalm to actually lean into the entirety of it. But he says, where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

Answer, nowhere. If I go to the heavens, you're there. If I make my bed in the depths, you're there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me.

Your right hand will hold me fast. God is closer than you think. Doss Willard in his book, Hearing God, he's a famous philosopher and wrote extensively on spiritual formation, says, how hard it is for us to come to an adequate conception of the lowliness of God, of how his greatness is precisely what makes him able, available and ready to hear and speak personally with his creatures. See, I think for many of us, we wandered in and we feel like we're on the far side of the wilderness. Because you wandered in with doubt, maybe you're deconstructing your faith. You wandered in with anxiety and fear and discouragement and depression. You wandered in and last night you did some things and you're like, hello, I wasn't planning to go there and I wasn't planning to do that and I wasn't planning to wake up there and I feel way far from God.

In fact, I feel so dirty in this moment and I just am here because a friend said, would you come and I showed up. So you may be on the far side of the mountain, but you're never far from God. God is closer than you think. He is ever present and the moment you turn, you'll realize he was always there. First foundational truth for us to understand in hearing God is God is closer than you think. The second one is God is in the everydayness of life.

God is in the everydayness of life. I don't know about you, but when I read this story, especially for so long, I'm like, I want my burning bush moment. Right? Like where's my burning bush moment?

And then I thought, you know, that would be kind of weird actually in my neighborhood if I saw a bush burning, would I really stop? You know? But we want something spectacular, don't we? We want it big. We want it extraordinary. We want something that's like, Ryan, you know?

It's like, whoa! And the truth and the reality for us to understand is God is in the everydayness of life. Moses was a shepherd for 40 years. He traveled those deserts and those plains and those barren wastelands. Do you know how many burning bushes he saw over the course of 40 years?

A lot. It was a common sight. Lightning would strike and you'd see burning bushes because of that. In fact, because of the arid climate there and how hot it was, bushes would even spontaneously combust.

That's crazy. Okay? And so it wasn't an extraordinary sight. It was an ordinary sight that Moses could have easily missed.

The burning bush was an ordinary every day. Think about this moment. That it would have been easy for Moses to overlook, pass by, and go unnoticed. I like how poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning said it. Earth's crammed with heaven and every common bush of fire with God. But only he who sees takes off his shoes. And how true it is with God, the ever-present one.

Not hard to find but easy to overlook. And we miss him because we don't stop and behold the burning bush and have curiosity of what is it and why is it, what's happening there. And we miss God's activity in our every day life because we're not aware and attentive that he's actually working and moving in those moments with us. God is in the every day dailiness of life.

When I was in college I remember reading Oswald Chambers, My Utmost Forest Highest. But Oswald Chambers talked about expecting God. And how often we miss God because God doesn't show up in the way we expect him.

And he gave this picture and the picture was simply this. Often we expect God and imagine you're in a house and we're looking at the front door and we're expecting him to go through the front door. And so our eyes are focused on the front door and yet God came in the back door and been present the entire time. And I think that's so true for us is that if God doesn't show up the way we think, the way we want, the way we expect him and then we think he's just not showing up.

And he's like I've been here and I've been working and I showed up the entire time. And his point was just make room for God. Just make room for God.

Expect him to show up and then have eyes to see okay God you're in the every dailiness of life. Hearing God, five foundations, God is closer than you think. God is in the every dailiness of life. Foundational truth number three is God longs to speak to you. God longs to speak to you. Just as God longs to speak to Moses, just as God longs to speak to the apostle Paul, Elijah, God longs to speak to you.

It wasn't just for one person back then. It is for you and me today. And so I want to take a moment and just unpack a few of the ways that God speaks to us. Like how does God speak to us? How do we begin to hear his voice, know his voice?

And this is by no means exhaustive but it is a good start. How does God speak to us? The first way is God speaks to us through his word.

Like he wrote it down. Like God just speak to me please. He's going I did. Like we so often go God would you speak to me and yet we're not in his word.

He's going I wrote you a note. God wrote us a note. God speaks to us primarily and fundamentally in his word. If we're not in his word we won't know his voice and his leading in other areas of our life.

Because you won't know what is his heart beat and what is actually true. He speaks to us in his word. 2 Timothy 3 16 says all scripture is God-free and useful for teaching, training, rebuking, and correcting so that the person, the servant of God might be thoroughly equipped for every good work. God speaks to us through his word and God speaks through his spirit, the Holy Spirit of God. Like the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead now lives and dwells inside each of us. In 1 Corinthians 2 10 the Apostle Paul says it this way, the spirit searches all things even the deep things of God for who knows a person's thought except their own spirit within them. In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the spirit of God. We have received not the spirit of the world but the spirit who is from God. Now listen to this, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. The spirit communicates with our spirit and verse 16 says but we have the very mind of Christ. This is where we talk about the still small voice of God. This is where we talk about and understand that inner voice, the whisper.

Elijah wandered onto this same mountain a few hundred years later. He was completely exhausted, discouraged, clinically depressed and he needed a word from God. And we do just so want the extraordinary and God shows him in the ordinary and he shows up onto this mountain and I love the way God shows up and it says first this mighty wind tore through and says God was not in the wind. And the earthquake rumbles through. It says he's not in the earthquake and then a fire tears through. And then the text if you're reading it in the NIV says a gentle whisper. In the Hebrew it's a silence.

It's the silence. It's the gentle whisper of God. That God speaks to our spirit and he moves and it's the gentle prodding. Some of you might think of it and you might hear someone say well I just felt like I had this nudge of the Holy Spirit. And as you begin to respond to those nudges or those promptings you begin to clarify his voice in your life.

See if you have a thought that's for someone else's good that is contrary to what you would naturally desire and it requires faith chances are that's the spirit of God and not your spirit. And as you become aware of that and recognize it in partnership with the word of God then you begin to experience the daily guiding and leading. Dallas Willard again says this God usually addresses individually those who walk with him in a mature personal relationship using this inner voice showing forth the reality of the kingdom of God as they go. How does God speak through the word of God through the spirit of God the still small voice. He also speaks through other people. God uses other people.

I'm praying that God is using me right now in this moment to speak to you. And there's other people in our life that God uses and he brings a word. That's why 1 Corinthians 12 says this that now to each one the manifestation of the spirit is given for the common good. So one there's given through the spirit a message of wisdom for somebody. It's another message of knowledge by the same means of the spirit.

Like God uses other people and then he uses creation. The psalmist says it this way Psalm 19 says the heavens declare the glory of God the skies proclaim the works of his hand day after day they pour forth speech night after night they reveal knowledge they have no speech they use no words no sound is heard from them yet their voice goes out into all the earth and their words to the ends of the world. And haven't you had that moment where you stand with this incredible you know ocean view and beach and the majesty of God and his transcendence and your finiteness or you're in his creation and his gentle whisper then wraps you up in that moment and his profound love for you overwhelms you as you think about how great he is and yet close he is at the same time and he uses his creation to speak forth declare his glory and to speak to us. You've been listening to the first part of our guest teacher Ryan Ingram's message hearing God from his series when we pray.

Chip and Ryan will both join us here in studio with some additional thoughts about today's program in just a minute. If you're like most Christians this subject is often a confusing mis-prioritized and forgotten part of our faith journey. But in this new series guest teacher Ryan Ingram will motivate us to get a healthier more beneficial view of prayer. He'll debunk common misbeliefs about talking to God how to practice stillness and what we're to do when our prayers seemingly go unanswered. If you genuinely want to strengthen your prayer life this teaching will help.

Catch up on any part of this series by visiting or the Chip Ingram app. Well Chip's back with me in studio and Chip you know there are a lot of people who've been listening to this teaching from Ryan and sincerely want to deepen their connection to God through prayer. And here at Living on the Edge I know we have a great tool to help him out.

We really do Dave. The prayer journals that we've created I love. I've used them and you know I've always journaled.

I mean I'm a verbal processor and it's really helped me sort of see God's track record. I forget so easily or when I'm burdened it's amazing to just write down the things that I'm concerned about and you know the passage of casting all your cares upon him. They get all jumbled inside my mind and so I jot those down and and there's some great prompts inside our journal and you know an occasional hymn or a verse or a or a quote and it's just been a really really helpful tool. And if you're serious about hearing God's voice and praying and making that a not a discipline like I gotta gotta gotta do it but more of a communion and a relationship I've just found the journal becomes a tremendous guide helps me stay on track and I would just encourage you to try it and and maybe pass it on.

You're thinking about some other people that you want to help why two or three of these maybe some people that you're discipling and say hey why don't you kind of keep a journal and you don't have to do it every day. We we have some really good notes about how uniquely you can journal in a way that'll work for you and help you connect with the Lord but that's our goal and what I know is that Christians who pray deeply and regularly are Christians who live like Christians and that's our goal and that's our hope for you. To learn more about our prayer journals visit or tap special offers on the Chip Ingram map. These beautiful compact notebooks have plenty of space for your prayers and personal journaling along with scripture verses, hymn lyrics and quotes to encourage you. So if you want a more intentional enriching time with God this tool is going to help you. Again for more details about our prayer journals visit Tap listeners, tap special offers.

We'll hear now our Chip and Ryan to share a few final thoughts for this message. Well Ryan we're getting really near the end of this series and you know I've been a pastor for a long time as you know and I don't know that I've heard anyone address the story of Moses the way you did. I mean the burning bush you know it's sensational and he had this amazing experience and you shared some things that help us see a lot of that was fairly normal. Actually Moses is the one that was noticing there's something unusual and he took some initiative with God speaking to him and you know maybe you could help us a little bit more. Where is God speaking all the time that maybe we miss it and we really need to connect with that and maybe even more personally how does that work for you? How have you learned to sort of see where God is speaking all the time to you that maybe in the past you didn't? Absolutely I mean think about this what an incredible reality that God is wanting to speak to us like all the time that he's not far off he's not aloof he's not reluctant to speak to us. In fact he's longing to be involved in our everyday life. The problem is we so often expect God to show up in some extraordinary way something spectacular but as we learned he's often working in the ordinariness of life.

I mentioned about Oswald Chambers and leave room for God. In it he writes do not look for God to come in any particular way but look for him. That is the way to make room for him. Expect him to come but do not expect him only in a certain way. However much we may know God the great lesson is to learn that at any moment he may break in.

Isn't that amazing? At any moment he may break in. I love that to live with this expectancy for God to break into our dailiness of life. What if you just said think about this just on the practical side what if you just said a couple calendar alerts on your phone throughout your day to pause just for a minute just one minute maybe three times throughout your day to make room for God to expect him to look back and to see where God has already been active and perhaps you didn't even notice it. What do you pray? I think one of the most simplest yet most profound and appropriate prayers is the prayer Eli gave to the young boy Samuel speak Lord for your servant is listening. What if three times a day you just paused and you said speak Lord for your servant is listening and just gave some space for him to speak challenging words to think about Ryan thanks as we wrap up I want to thank those of you who make this program possible through your generous financial support your gifts help us create programs purchase airtime and develop additional resources to help Christians live like Christians if you've been blessed by the ministry of Living on the Edge would you consider sending a gift today you can do that when you visit Living on the Edge org or the chip Ingram app and now you can text donate to 741 41 that's the word donate to 741 41 we'll listen to next time as our guest teacher Ryan Ingram wraps up his new series when we pray until then this is Dave Drewy saying thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-17 05:26:15 / 2023-05-17 05:36:10 / 10

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