Is all the noise in your life
drowning God out?

Has God spoken to you lately--or is your life so full of noise that he can't get a word in edgeways?

As singles, we often resort to television or radio to take the place of another person in our home. Even while taking walks, we plug in our Walkman or iPod to get rid of the silence. But silence is absolutely necessary in a relationship with God.

An old saying tells us: "God is a gentleman. He doesn't push himself in where he's not invited." God will not compete with music, newscasts, cell phone conversations or any other noise to get your attention.

Think about it for a moment. If you were at a friend's place and he or she played the stereo and ignored you, would you feel like engaging in meaningful conversation? Well, neither does God. And he deserves so much more from us than anyone else.

How to invite God in

If you want to hear from God, you have to invite him in, and to do that, you have to stop the noise and impose periods of silence in your life. That's not easy to do, especially for singles. When you're upset or worried, silence can be an opportunity for runaway thoughts to cause havoc in your mind. And when you're feeling lonely, silence only seems to intensify the misery.

Even if you do turn off all your electronic gadgets to listen to God, you may think he only spoke to humans during Bible times. But that contradicts the very concept of prayer.

"Today I continue to believe that people are meant to live in an ongoing conversation with God, speaking and being spoken to," says Dallas Willard, in his book Hearing God.

Notice that Willard includes both parts of a conversation--speaking and listening. How much of your prayer life is just a list of "gimme's"? In a way, a one-sided conversation (with you doing all the talking) is noise too--noise that prevents God from getting his turn.

Instead of reciting a long grocery list of your needs, do you ever fall silent to listen to what God wants to tell you?

When he does speak, can you expect to hear God's booming voice, rattling the windows in your house? No. Experts on prayer, from Teresa of Avila to Charles Stanley, do not report audible, frightening commands. Rather, God will speak in your heart, and his guidance will be unmistakable.

Go to God's instruction book

If you hear nothing, you need to go to God's book of instructions, the Bible. If you don't read the Bible because you can't understand it, you're reading the wrong Bible. Today, there are many excellent, comprehensible versions of the Bible available. My favorite is the Life Application Bible. It tells you specifically how to apply a passage to your own world. The more you read the Bible, the more God will speak to you through it.

In my small group Bible study, I have been amazed how the same passage of scripture says something different to each one of us. That's because the Bible is the living word of God, and the Holy Spirit gives us wisdom through it.

Some people like to meditate or mentally reflect on a verse or passage of scripture. That's a good technique too, because it gives God the opportunity to increase your understanding of him and your situation.

Don't try reading the Bible with music, the television, or other noise going. Those distractions will prevent you from focusing. Reading the Bible ten or fifteen minutes before you go to bed is a smart way to fill your mind with God's principles. It has the additional benefit of giving you something positive to think about as you're trying to fall asleep, instead of going down the rabbit hole of worry.

Any time God speaks in your heart, his message will never contradict his written word, the Bible. If it does, you know that urging is not from God.

How to listen to God

Sometimes we just need to be quiet and listen to God. You can do that while you're making dinner, folding laundry, or cleaning your house. The first several times you try this, your mind will be consumed with random, distracting thoughts. But gradually, over a period of weeks or months, you'll learn to brush them gently aside and get back to God. The Holy Spirit will definitely help you with that.

Don't be afraid to be alone with your thoughts. Remember that as a believer, you never are alone. But you will never feel God's presence if you don't turn off the racket. Nothing in this life is as exciting as your unfolding relationship with God. He will guide you, instruct you, and encourage you if you can break away from the noise and open your heart to him. The more quiet time you spend with God, the more you'll look forward to it and the more perceptive you'll become.

To know that the creator and ruler of the universe loves you and wants to talk with you is the most astonishing feeling you'll ever have. When you compare it with all the noise that's competing for your attention, it won't be hard to make the best choice.

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