I have been speaking for the last four weeks about hearing the voice of God. I have never been blessed by hearing the audible voice of God commanding me as if with a megaphone. Instead, I have had to learn to discipline myself to discern God’s will for my life from what he has disclosed in Scripture and a felt leading from the Spirit.
Discerning the voice of God is nearly impossible for youth today. This problem isn’t necessarily about a lack of trying, but more a lack of know how. Youth today are plugged according the Kaiser Family Foundations study (here) youth are spending more than 7.5 hours with some sort of media, if you add in the time that youth are multitasking media the number jumps to over 10 hours a day of media exposure. This matters because many teens are never without another voice in their head. They sleep with their iPods on and they wake up to music. They spend their days on Facebook and their nights watching television. Hearing the voice of God over the clamoring of the media in their heads is rare. And if they did actually hear the voice of God, would they even know that it was God speaking?
We looked at 1 Kings 19 this week and we saw that Elijah did not discern the presence and voice of God in the rushing wind, the shaking earth, or the blazing fire. It was after these things past that Elijah heard the Lord speak in a whisper. Psalm 46:10 encourages us to be still before the Lord. It is often only when we discipline ourselves to find real still, quiet time that we make space for God to speak to us.
The second concern is with knowing the words of God over the words of man. Students need to know what God sounds like, so when they hear a voice they can answer the questions “does this sound like God?” God has spoken through 66 books in our Bible. Pages upon pages, He has said things to us, do we know what He sounds like. Many youth could hear a second of song and know the whole song, the artist who sang it, and on what CD it was released. That’s because they have spent time getting to know the voice of the artist. However, could I read a passage from the Bible and get the same result? Could I select a passage from the Koran and students not be able to discern the difference? I wonder.
Encourage your kids to spend time (without media) with the Lord. Encourage them to pray, and to read the Bible. It would be great if you had a family discipline of reading a passage of scripture each day (privately) and then discuss what you all read later in the day, or even once a week. Let your child know that hearing and discerning God’s will for his/her life is important to you. Help hold them accountable for their time, like you likely do with their schoolwork. If you need help with resources for Bible reading let me know, I would love to wrangle some up for you! Keep up the good work.