On the wall of a Congregational church that I was visiting, a banner read, “God is still speaking.” It’s a truth brought out many times in the Bible. For instance, there’s this reassuring verse: “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21). When we need direction, fresh thoughts, inspiration, and even some personal correcting, I’ve found it comforting to know that God is always speaking to us to give us exactly what we need.
But if God is still – and always – speaking, why don’t we listen more often? Perhaps we think we already know enough, or that God will tell us something that goes against the grain of what we have planned. Or perhaps we don’t even know how to listen. Most everyone knows how to listen to the music he likes best or how to decipher someone’s tone of voice – but hearing a voice that is inaudible to the physical senses may seem beyond possibility.
The study of Christian Science reveals that every one of God’s children – every man, woman, and child – has the God-given ability to hear and recognize what might be called the inaudible voice of God. That’s because our true identity is the very image of God, His expression. So, how can we listen for God’s voice? It may begin with the heart. That is, with our desire to learn, to do better, to be humble, to be unselfish. Our desire to do good for others is clear evidence of our capacity to listen to and follow a right desire. Because God is good, He motivates us to do what is right. As we learn to identify ourselves with that which comes from God – with what is good, pure, and selfless – we are able to listen to and hear God’s voice more clearly.
Another way to cultivate our ability to listen is to gain a better sense of God’s nature – to understand that God is good, loving, and benevolent. The Bible is full of teachings and examples of God’s great love for His creation – that He is all good, ever present, and all-loving. As Father and Mother of all His children, His love is universal, tender, supportive, totally beneficial, and full of blessing.
One Bible story about the benefits of listening for, and hearing, God’s direction has to do with the Old Testament’s story of Abraham. He must have been praying, listening, when God spoke to him and said, “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.... [T]hou shalt be a father of many nations” (Genesis 17:1, 4). And God led him to a new land and out of idolatry to a new understanding of the one, infinite God.
The teachings of Christian Science make it clear that it’s not only possible to listen to God, it’s also an essential step in one’s individual moral and spiritual progress. Listening to and obeying God’s direction leads us out of discord, fear, and wrong tendencies that we need to let go of. This listening and following God’s direction is not only personally beneficial, but results in blessings to others, as was Abraham’s experience.
The teachings of Christian Science Discoverer and Founder Mary Baker Eddy support Christ Jesus’ teachings that tell his followers – then and now – to listen, hear, and follow God’s commands to do good to one another (for example, see Matthew 7:12). God’s divine and loving messages, coming as spiritual intuitions, bring assurance and confidence, and often helpful stirrings to what needs cultivating in ourselves. Divine ideas awaken us to the reality of God as Life and Love, always caring for each one of us.
Mrs. Eddy writes of listening for God’s voice in a poem titled “ ‘Feed my sheep’ ”: “I will listen for Thy voice,/ Lest my footsteps stray;/ I will follow and rejoice/ All the rugged way” (“Poems,” p. 14). Just as a shepherd lovingly cares for his sheep, we can trust that our divine Shepherd lovingly cares for His children. Just as a shepherd knows what is most beneficial for the sheep, we can trust that God, who is the all-knowing divine Mind, knows what is most beneficial for each one of us even when we are going through challenging times.
No matter where we are physically, mentally, morally, or spiritually, we can listen for and hear God speaking to us. As we cultivate our desire to be and do good, we get direction and inspiration, and feel the comfort of divine Love that cares for us each step of the way.