How I Finally Heard God's Voice In Prayer
Have you ever thought to yourself, “why should I pray when I know I’m not going to hear anything from God?” If you are anything like me, you have probably struggled to hear God’s voice in prayer. This can be really discouraging, especially if you have that one friend who seems to be hearing things every time they pray, or at least is seemingly consoled by God all the time.
This was me for most of my life. Somehow, by the grace of God, I knew the faith was true and that observing it would lead me to heaven. At the time, that meant going to Mass every Sunday, praying my prayers (Rosary, bedtime prayers) as often as I remembered, and going to confession when I needed to. This was what “living the faith” looked like for me. But that all changed when I was challenged to read the Bible daily.
I knew the Bible contained the story of Jesus and how He came and died for our sins and saved us. But I thought to myself, ‘what could the Bible possibly teach me that I didn’t already know after being Catholic my whole life?’ I quickly realized how narrow minded and quite frankly, incomplete, my understanding of the Bible was.
Once I started to dive into Scripture, as well as reading the Catechism, things started to change drastically.
One day I read in the Catechism:
“…the Church has always venerated Sacred Scripture as much as the body of Christ.” (CCC Par. 103)
This was HUGE! Are the Scriptures really as important as the body of Christ? As a cradle Catholic, I was pretty sure this had to be a typo. “There’s no way the Scriptures are as important as Jesus himself,” I thought. Or maybe the Catechism was blasphemous?!
Immediately following that, I read in Scripture:
“In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through Him and without Him nothing came to be… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:1)
As I read these words again, I realized something. John was making a direct reference to Genesis with “In the beginning…,” drawing my attention to the connection between the Word that he is writing about (Jesus) and the beginning of time, written about in Genesis.
Right away I noticed a flaw in the way that I had understood the story of creation. I had always imagined God to be a Father-time-like figure, bringing creation about all by himself. This was the first time I imagined a communion of persons bringing about creation! God the Father saying, “let there be light” and God the Son (the Word) bringing light into being and sustaining it there, and their very rejoicing, the Holy Spirit, delighting in the goodness of what has been made.
As I began to play through this re-imagined story of creation in my head, I got to the part where God created man in His image and was blown away. The same Word that became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, is the Word that brings every man into being and holds him in existence!
Suddenly, God didn’t feel so far away, or hard to understand. Everything I had been searching for in desiring to hear God’s voice in prayer was sitting right my lap in the Bible. The Catechism confirmed this for me:
“one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture, that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers” (CCC 102).
In Sacred Scripture, “the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children and talks with them” (CCC 104).
What I realized for the first time is that every time I read from the Scriptures, I am communing with the person of Christ. He is speaking directly, uniquely, and specifically to me. No longer was I searching for God to make some audible sound or give me a blatantly obvious sign. He has already said everything He needs to in his Word.
I began to see that anytime Jesus did something in the Scriptures, whether it was healing, casting out demons, counseling, exhorting, teaching, He does it for me. His actions in that instant are rippling through eternity, ready to make known to everyone that they are living and effective (Heb 4:12).
The Scriptures continue to reveal to us our very selves by putting us in communion with Christ, the Eternal Word that holds us in existence. I invite you to contemplate this reality of communing with Christ while reading the Scriptures.
One specific practice that can help you do this is Lectio Divina (Divine Reading), where you spend time allowing the Scriptures to penetrate your heart. Here is a brief outline from a of what this practice looks like:
4 Spiritual Steps: (engages every part of us-body, mind, heart, soul)
1. Reading- the diligent examination of Scripture with the attentiveness of soul
2. Meditation- studious action of the mind as it searches out the hidden Truth of Scripture, ponder, ask questions, reflect, use your intellect
3. Prayer- the heart reaching out to God in response, use your heart/ the will, a response/dialogue to God’s Word
4. Contemplation- Receiving whatever God has for you in that moment - God does this by raising the soul to Himself so man can taste the joy of eternal sweetness
The daily Scripture readings are a great place to start, spending at least 15 minutes going through those steps.
The Church makes it clear that this is not just a good devotional practice. The Catechism puts it plainly that “prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that a dialogue takes place between God and man. For we speak to Him when we pray; we listen to Him when we read the divine oracles” (CCC 2653). The Scriptures are the way that the Lord has given us to come to know Him and His purpose for our lives! “Seek in reading and you will find in meditation, knock in mental prayer and it will be opened to you by contemplation” (CCC2654). God’s voice is not silent, it is resounding throughout the Sacred Scriptures.
I have come to know this personally, and I hope my experience can help you come to know it as well!