Listening to God

1 Kings 19:12 After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. (NAU)
 
A soul, who made rapid progress in her understanding of the Lord, was once asked the secret of her easy advancement. She replied tersely, "Mind the checks." And the reason that many of us do not know and better understand Him is, we do not give heed to His gentle checks, His delicate restraints and constraints. His is a still, small voice. A still voice can hardly be heard. It must be felt. A steady, gentle pressure upon the heart and mind like the touch of a morning zephyr to your face. A small voice, quietly, almost timidly spoken in your heart, but if heeded growing noiselessly clearer to your inner ear. His voice is for the ear of love, and love is intent upon hearing even faintest whispers. There comes a time also when love ceases to speak if not responded to, or believed in. He is love, and if you would know Him and His voice, give constant ear to His gentle touches. In conversation, when about to utter some word, give heed to that gentle voice, mind the check and refrain from speech. When about to pursue some course that seems all clear and right and there comes quietly to your spirit a suggestion that has in it the force almost of a conviction, give heed, even if changed plans seem highest folly from standpoint of human wisdom. Learn also to wait on God for the unfolding of His will. Let God form your plans about everything in your mind and heart and then let Him execute them. Do not possess any wisdom of your own. For many times His execution will seem so contradictory to the plan He gave. He will seem to work against Himself. Simply listen, obey and trust God even when it seems highest folly so to do. He will in the end make "all things work together," but so many times in the first appearance of the outworking of His plans, "He is content to play a losing game."
 
So if you would know His voice, never consider results or possible effects. Obey even when He asks you to move in the dark. He Himself will be gloriously light in you. And there will spring up rapidly in your heart an acquaintanceship and a fellowship with God which will be overpowering in itself to hold you and Him together, even in severest testings and under most terrible pressures.
 
(from "Way of Faith", as quoted by "Streams in the Desert," by Lettie Cowman)

"The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him." (Hab. 2:20.)
 
The reason why inward silence is so indispensable, is, because the Word is essential and eternal, and necessarily requires dispositions in the soul in some degree correspondent to His nature, as a capacity for the reception of Himself. Hearing is a sense formed to receive sounds, and is rather passive than active, admitting, but not communicating sensation; and if we would hear, we must lend the ear for that purpose. Christ, the eternal Word, who must be communicated to the soul to give it new life, requires the most intense attention to his voice, when He would speak within us.
 
Hence it is so frequently enjoined upon us in sacred writ, to listen and be attentive to the voice of God; I quote a few of the numerous exhortations to this effect: "Hearken unto me, my people, and give ear unto me, O my nation!" (Isa. li. 4,) and again "Hear me, all ye whom I carry in my bosom..." (Isa. xlvi. 3,) and further by the Psalmist, "Hearken, O daughter! and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty." (Ps. xlv. 10,11.) We must forget ourselves, and all self-interest, and listen and be attentive to God; these two simple actions, or rather passive dispositions, produce the love of that beauty, which He himself communicates.
 
Outward silence is very requisite for the cultivation and improvement of inward; and, indeed, it is impossible we should become truly interior, without loving silence and retirement. God saith by the mouth of his prophet, "I will lead her into solitude, and there will I speak to her heart (Hos. ii. 14); and unquestionably the being internally engaged with God is wholly incompatible with being externally busied about a thousand trifles.
(Fenelon)

If we quiet ourselves before Him, God can interject His thoughts into our thinking. If we are silent for a few moments, He may bring a favorite passage of Scripture to mind, He may reveal an absorbing truth, or He may bring peace to our inner beingsā€”or He may do all three. We should sit before Him in silence and allow Him to pour Himself into us.
 
Silence and seclusion before God allow Him to speak to our hearts clearly, positively, and unmistakably. Though God may not speak to us audibly, He will move in our spirits and impress our minds. We will know God has spoken to us. God saved us to glorify Him, and He developed a relationship with us so that we can love and understand who He is.
(Charles Stanley)

Just as in prayer it is not we who momentarily catch His attention, but He ours, so when we fail to hear His voice, it is not because He is not speaking so much as that we are not listening. We must recognize that all things are in God and that God is in all things, and we must learn to be very attentive, in order to hear God speaking in His ordinary tone without any special accent. A man must not stop listening any more than praying when he rises from his knees. No one questions the need of times of formal address to God, but few admit in any practical way the need of quiet waiting upon God, gazing into His face, feeling for His hand, listening for His voice. "I will hearken what the Lord God will say concerning me." God has special confidences for each soul. Indeed, it would seem as though the deepest truths came only in moments of profound devotional silence and contemplation.
(Charles H. Brent)