What are we listening for? I just follow my heart, isn’t that the same thing? My father was a brilliant mechanic and after going through addiction recovery, he became an avid examiner of his own heart. He studied people, asked deep questions, searched to find the right way and followed his heart through seven til-death-do-us-parts. The heart isn’t always reliable. God changes hearts, and that helps quite a bit. But even people who have followed God for years find their lives upside down with wounded people all around, after their hearts have led them to make decisions that were not in line with what God says. The authors of Experiencing God tell us that God speaks to us through the Bible, prayer, circumstances and the church. The Bible is a great way to get familiar with the kinds of things God tends to say. I recommend starting with the New Testament. The Old Testament does have some really great stuff, but the world was a very different place then, and we didn’t have Jesus. I recommend saving those books until you’ve read the way God sees us and the way God moved among us through Jesus. A quick word: Language and the human experience tend to slot us into ideas of Him and Her. God made both and isn’t constrained by gender. But Biblical writing would be very cumbersome if it said he/she/it every time it says He for God. I think you’ll find that God exhibits qualities that would make the perfect mother, father and friend, so please don’t let all the “He” hold you back from getting to know “Him” as a unique person. If you’re done with John, I’d go to Ephesians next: 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:16-19 NLT Prayer is an important thing. In the movies, people almost never pray when they should, but there’s often some person who tries prayer like I buy lottery tickets—one spur-of-the-moment thing every 10 years, just in case. Have you ever known someone that disappeared from your life and didn’t return your calls? Then one day you get a call that starts with a feeble attempt to catch up and ends with a request for cash? How much do you want to help them? Do you want to invite them over to play with your expensive gaming system? On the flip side, you ever seen friends who don’t even speak in full sentences because they know all the lines from some movie they both love or because they’ve hung out so much that one knows where the other is going and just finishes the trip? Prayer is like that. God’s bigger than we can imagine, and He could handle 7 billion people even if we all talked at once. It doesn’t bother Him when we talk to Him. Our arms are a lot shorter, so many of our prayers may be along the lines of “Would you please reach that for me?” But if we keep praying and we keep reading the Bible, we begin to ask questions like, “Why did You do that?” and “What are You wanting me to see here?” and “Hey would you touch that other person because they should get to know You too.” I like to think that God is a little like I wish my Dad had been. Don’t get me wrong—I totally loved my Dad and I’m grateful for all that he taught me, but… I imagine God waking me up on Christmas morning and whispering with a grin, “Hey, c’mere. Got something to show you.” I follow him in my donkey slippers out to the garage where He has a bike ready to assemble, and He teaches me how to do it. Sometimes I ask for a tool and He says, “What’s it called?” because He’s teaching me. Moments like this are going to be important when someday He teaches me how to build my own hotrod—and drive it. God works with us like that. And it’s really fun as the relationship matures. What does prayer NOT do? It doesn’t eliminate or prevent every pain. One of my FAVORITE things to do is ride my bike, but those awesome moments speeding down a hill with no hands and the wind on my damp skin would be impossible if I hadn’t trusted my stepdad enough to let him teach me. More than once, I sat in the road bawling with bloody knees and elbows after hitting a bump when I was riding too fast down our dirt road. The places God wants to take us require trust and the maturity that comes from a scrape here and there. Circumstances and the church: Circumstances aren’t always easy to interpret correctly. People are quick to share bad experiences—just try to research a new tech device sometime. I’ve actually found negative reviews from people that start with, “I’m glad I didn’t buy this product…I can tell it’s awful because of what other people said.” Well seriously? Why are you writing a review? Right now, I must confess that I am not perfect and I occasionally feel like smacking people. Reviews like that bring out the smack in me. Even when we’re in the circumstance, we see only what’s in front of us and not the quantum reality surrounding it. Sometimes it’s not about us at all. So God does speak through circumstances, but make sure that your interpretation lines up with the Bible, and connect yourself with people who show through their lives that they hear from God. If you haven’t found a church yet, let’s pray: Lord, the church is full of people like me, who are getting to know You and have a variety of personalities and flaws. Would You speak to me somehow this week? Show me the place You’d like me to visit, where people worship You, learn about You and work together to grow personally and help others. It’s okay if the first place I go isn’t my dream come true, but take me to where You’d like me to be right now, in Jesus’ Name. You can click here to see churches in your area.