When we think about the Bible, I think we would all agree that whilst in the Old Testament we can see, purely from reading that people used to converse directly with God, there was no In Jesus Name, for obvious reasons; in the New Testament, in contrast, the emphasis doesn’t appear to be about people so much speaking or conversing directly with God or vice-versa, but more about people speaking to God through Jesus or at-least through His name. Or……perhaps the emphasis for speaking to God through Jesus is something that has come from the Church itself and its leaders, as opposed to the actual New Testament?!?
So in other words, the focus on communing with God, (speaking from a Christian perspective), or at least the focus on HOW we commune with God appears to have made a shift, it appears to have changed focus from a direct relationship with God to what appears now to be a more in-direct relationship with God; when I listen to many Christians talking about prayer and conversing with God, it appears to be more of an approach through Jesus or via the use of the term In His Name; that is, In the Name of Jesus. It appears that one major belief in many Christians is that in order to approach the throne of God, one must go through, or approach it, via Jesus and In His Name.
Now I don’t personally feel there is anything wrong with that, and for many, that is where they are in life, in their walk and we all have to start somewhere. However, the term: In the Name of Jesus, or In Jesus Name, has become such a common term to the extent that it is or has become a cliche, that we often hear over and over when listening to Christians pray.
So why is that? Why do we seem to have gone a little away from a direct path of communication with God, to a some-what mediated method of communication? A method of communication which requires a third person, or a third Spirit or Deity so to speak to act as a go-between? Is it lack of knowledge – not realising that we can take a direct route to God? Lack of confidence? Feelings of intimidation – I’m not good enough? Or perhaps it is lack of no-how ?
Now you could say, well Jesus is God anyway, which is true for most Christians, but in that case we could also say that we are the image of God also, so we shouldn’t have any problem speaking directly to God or hearing directly FROM God!
So many questions underpin what should be such a simple act. So many questions arise from the reading of two different testaments.
As we leave the questions behind, it then permits us the time we need in order to take a look at what the Old Testament shows us in regards to God speaking to His people; so that we can see how people talked, prayed or conversed with God.
Let us start at the beginning, with Genesis:
Genesis 3: 9 – 22
God speaks directly to Adam.
Genesis 15: 1 – 16
The Word of the Lord speaks through a vision to Abram.
Genesis 16: 7 – 12
The Angel of the Lord speaks directly to Hagar.
Genesis 28: 11 – 16
The Lord God speaks through a dream to Jacob.
Exodus: (Most of the Book)
The Lord God speaks directly to Moses.
Exodus 8: 9 – 25
The Lord God speaks directly and through miracles to Moses.
Jeremiah 18: 1 – 11
The Lord God speaks directly and through symbolic actions to Jeremiah.
1 Kings 19: 9 – 18
The Angel of the Lord speaks directly to Elijah and The Lord God speaks directly in a small still voice to Elijah.
The above scriptures are merely a snippet of occasions when God spoke to people directly, all-be-it in different ways, but we aren’t concerned as much about the ways in which God speaks, as we are about the fact that God speaks directly to His people and has on numerous occasions; and if God speaks directly to His people, then His people can also speak directly to Him.
This then leads to another question: Are the people whom God spoke directly too, special people? or are they normal everyday people like you and me? I personally feel that they are normal everyday people like you and me and the difference is that what makes them seem special is:
Their Choice To Listen
Their Choice To Be Obedient
Their Choice To Feed Their Desire
Their Choice To Be Willing to Work Towards Godliness Which Means Change
Their Choice To Choose Commitment and Faithfulness
Their Choice To Build That Relationship Because We All Know That Relationships Don’t Build Themselves!
People who hear the voice of God and see His messages in their dreams and visions are everyday people who walk their walk, not just talk their walk. They don’t just go to church on a Sunday, or just set aside one day a week to be Holy, they walk their walk every day of their lives. They sacrifice time in order to know God. They spend time doing that which takes them closer to God, what do they do?
They Sit in Silence
They Show Appreciation
They Build a Loving Relationship with God
They Nurture their One-On-One Relationship with God
They Rise Early
They Work Hard
They Make God Time the Be-All and End-all of Their Life
They Make Huge Sacrifices When Asked By God – No Matter How Hard
The difference between normal and special isn’t that God anointed one with more gifts than the other, the difference between normal and special is attitude.
Now if we look to the New Testament to see how people prayed or talked, or conversed with God, we can see that more often than not, it wasn’t God talking directly to His people, it was more Jesus talking directly to Gods people, it was Jesus sharing Gods voice, God’s desires so to speak, it was Jesus who was having the direct conversations with God. That isn’t to say that God never spoke directly to anyone in the New Testament because He did; and that doesn’t mean God can’t, won’t or doesn’t talk to people directly now. But it does appear, as far as I am concerned, that the further away we are from God, or the weaker our connection is and the weaker our relationship is with God DOES have a direct impact on how we can receive from God.
Other Avenues In Which God Can Speak To Us:
Through his word in general
Through nature and all of creation
Through other people
Through sickness and
God still DOES talk directly to people but we need to be open and willing to listen. I feel that over the years, many people have become so much further away from God, coupled with so much emphasis placed upon the idea of praying In Jesus Name, that it has some-what emasculated us from our own personal relationship with God; in other words, it has weakened our connection, our personal one-on-one connection with God, with the Divine Source.
Many have built a reliance and belief that if it isn’t said In Jesus Name, then it won’t be heard or answered and that isn’t true. For me personally, I feel that we can have a one-on-one personal relationship with God, it grows and increases in strength the more we become like Christ. That is why I believe that where scripture says, no-one can come to the father unless through me,what Jesus meant was none of us can come close to the father, to God, or have a relationship with God unless we are like, or becoming like Christ. The more we are like Christ, the more we are likely to hear the voice of God like Christ did.
Many people do not expect God to talk to them audibly, but it does happen, some people do not expect God to talk to them through dreams, but it does happen, some don’t expect God to talk to them through visions, but that also does happen. If we have limited expectations of God, can we hope for anything else?
We live in a society where we have become so separated from God that we only expect a tiny part of what we should expect, and yet it still often comes as a surprise when we receive as little as we expect.
Let me share with you a snippet of a true story, this story is about one woman’s walk with God, this woman built a one-on-one relationship with God where she followed Gods lead in everything that she did, but in-amongst that, she also had to face much ridicule, persecution and chastisement from fellow Christians, some of whom had known her for a long time. The ridicule and persecution etc was for not walking her path in a way they decided was acceptable and because what God required of her was not what some Christians felt God would ask!
I am going to call her Ann……….
Ann grew up knowing God, she didn’t know what or who God was, but as a young child, she was aware that there was something outside of herself, which she knew she was part of, even though she was too young to put it into words or even process it adequately. Ann also knew that this God was also on the inside of her; she knew that because she could hear His voice sometimes.
Ann didn’t have any special or religious upbringing nor did she have any mental health problems which is what some people would have thought had they realised that sometimes she heard the voice of God. Ann’s path didn’t really become a full on path with God until she was in her 30’s. She had always done what she felt was right with God, (sometimes people also call that following your intuition). In her twenties, she found meditation was a very effective way or tool for hearing God both audibly and as a still quiet voice within, she found that the meditation put her psychologically into the right space to hear more clearly. Sometimes hearing was audible, other times hearing was more of an impression, a feeling in her heart, a deep knowing, and other times it was by way of a vision or a dream, or it could even be through being led to a particular spiritual text.
As Ann reached her mid 30’s she found herself deeply stirred by the things of God, she found herself deeply moved and deeply led by her inner stirrings and desires. At this same time, Ann had been happily married for nearly 20 years and had a teenage daughter from that same marriage.
Later on in one particular year, God spoke very audibly to Ann, what she was told was about to change her entire life forever.
Whilst going about her normal daily house-keeping, she heard God say – You need to divorce your husband. Now this wasn’t a quiet still whisper in the heart, this was heard audibly, and was such a shock to her that she replied with – what? Just to hear God repeat Himself and say again – You need to divorce your husband. Ann had been with her husband since she was 18 yrs old, they had a beautiful relationship and a beautiful daughter, this request came as a huge shock.
Ann remembers falling to her knees and sobbing, asking: Why? Why? To cut a long story short, God had told her that if she didn’t want to leave her husband she didn’t have to and that God would not love her any less, but for Ann, how could she deny God, the very source of her life, she knew only too well, that if God was asking her to give up her life, it was for a good reason.
Ann agreed to follow Gods lead and trust that God not only had a plan but that He also knew what He was doing, her reasoning was:
“if God is asking me to give up my life, to sacrifice my entire life and everything and everyone in it, then it must be for a good reason”
So after seeking confirmation and after oceans of tears, she started to prise herself away from her husband and daughter. God created opportunities for her to help in the painful transition that she was going through. One day, Ann felt drawn to an advert that was in the paper for a working holiday, this working holiday would bring her in contact with many people, and she knew that many people would mean many opportunities to bring healing into others lives; whether that be through massage, through counselling or through other avenues she didn’t know and it didn’t matter. All that mattered was that this deep stirring she had within was somehow guiding her every step of the way. This became a deep drawing which she knew was from God, so she went with it and started the job.
Later that year, under the counsel of God, Ann left; she left everything; her home, her animals, her belongings, her familiar places, the country she loved so much; but most of all she left the two people whom she loved and lived for, her husband and her only child. This was the most painful time of her life, the most painful thing she had every endured in her life-time, it felt like her heart had been broken in two and ripped out of her very chest.
Ann was told by God to get a one-way ticket, a ticket back to her home-land and to seek employment, she was even told where to go for employment, that very employment commenced 2 months later after her training.
Jumping ahead again……
Taking such huge steps for God became easier and easier as her trust grew in leaps and bounds. By now, Ann’s life was completely committed to her spiritual path, her walk with God. She did meet another man and she did divorce her husband some years later. The knew relationship was based on the understanding that she was on a spiritual path and that her walk with God needed to come first. The new man in her life, was able to come and go with her which made him a good companion.
Ann continued to draw close to God, using meditation, time in nature, quiet times, visualisations, fasting and other spiritual techniques as her avenues to hear God, the closer she drew to God, the more sacrifices she had to make, or rather chose to make. The closer she became to God, the more she changed, the more she evolved, the more she understood, and the more she understood why she needed to leave what she had in order to accomplish this journey. Not only did it free her to follow God, it also freed her ex-husband to find another wife who could be there for him and someone whom he could spend the rest of his life with. What it taught her daughter, was that you can do what you feel you need to do in life, even if it means disappointing another in order to be true to yourself.
God took Ann on a 17 yr journey, a journey that transformed her, stretched her, broke her, and healed her; a journey that at times left her feeling it would be less painful for her if she was to end her life than what she was currently experiencing. Ann’s journey took her around the world giving her the opportunity of meeting many other people from all walks of life, people whom she was able to have spiritual input into.
Ann’s life became a continual sacrifice as she continued to serve and follow God, many people ridiculed her for her beliefs, saying that it was the devil she was listening too, many told her God doesn’t break up marriages, many told her she was incredibly selfish. Yet, through all the gnashing of teeth by others, Ann held close to God, she kept walking with God every day and following His lead.
As the years went by, sacrifice after sacrifice, Ann kept growing, expanding, encompassing all that God had for her, she had to really, because if she gave up just once, then it would have felt as if she gave up all the people, places, and things she loved so dearly for nothing. Ann became proficient in the Healing Arts, having been led by God and also taught by God, she learnt different aspects of Healing and put them to good use, she not only offered healing to others, she also taught healing to others.
Ann was able to speak into the lives of many individuals and her rewards were seeing others grow into the people they were designed to be. Other people receiving healing through her, became her inspiration to continue on despite the sacrifices. Her time with God had become the most precious thing she had, it was the be-all and end-all of all that she did, her life had literally become a living sacrifice for God.
Ann continues on with her journey even today, she still has people telling her that God doesn’t do this and God doesn’t do that, and God doesn’t talk so directly to people; but regardless, Ann continues on with her work to spread the knowledge she has gained in hope of helping others to bridge that gap between themselves and God.
Was Ann special? No, she was a normal person who appeared special because of her single minded devotion to God. Ann made time and opportunities to let God talk to her though visions, dreams, and voice. Today, Ann continues on with her healing and her teachings and she continues to permit God to speak to her in what-ever way He wishes.
Ann shares her wisdom and insights through the internet and has gone even deeper into the realms of God, her normal daily routine when at home, includes 4hrs a day for specific time with God and another 3 – 4hrs per day for study and/or other activities that help to enlarge her wisdom as well as allowing time to see people so that she can speak into their lives.
Ann has witnessed miracles, watched people heal, and has been personally transformed by the grace of God, and all this has been done through a one-on-one relationship with God, with the Divine, call it what you may, with the very source that created us all.
On a material level, Ann has nothing much to show for life, but on a spiritual level, she has filled her vaults with vast riches that many people yearn for, vast riches that no-one can take from her. The odd thing is, people often tell her how lucky she is to be able to do all these things, to be able to talk this way to God. They see the glory but they fail to see the pain she has had to go through, they see the glamour but they fail to see the daily sacrifices made. They see someone who seems to find things so easy, but they fail to see the discipline, the commitment, and most of all her sacrificial offering of her life. Many fail to see and realise the tears, the heartache and the full price she paid in order to love God with all her heart, all her mind, and all her soul.
Many of you know Ann, because Ann is actually ME! This is my story, my life, or at-least a very small snippet of it, this is my life on the cross, Christ carried His own cross, and so did I.
The questions I leave you with today are…….will you carry YOUR own cross in order to build a one-on-one relationship with God? Will you walk your own walk with God to Calvary.
Always Walk in Peace – Kenzo