Read Deuteronomy 18:15-20.
But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die. (Deuteronomy 18:20)
There will be true prophets and there will be false prophets. How do we tell them apart? How do we gain discernment? How do we learn to recognize the shepherd’s voice? How can we know what is good?
Read Psalm 111.
Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. (Psalm 111:2)
Meditate on God’s works, in creation, in redemption, in the lives of the saints. Become familiar with the style. Notice the effects. Observe the nuance. Feel the love—and be overwhelmed. God’s works are
- full of honor and majesty
- of enduring righteousness and renown
- powerful and effective
- gracious and merciful
- faithful and just
- holy and awesome
Think of creation, of the way the world supports, nurtures, and provides for us—and corrects and chastises us and causes us to grow. Meditate on the life of Jesus, his humility, service, obedience, and love. Ponder the good actions of people you know or have read about.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: all those who practice it have a good understanding. (Psalm 111:10)
You will not gain discernment without reverential fear. You must desire to know God so that you can worship him. You must seek to know the good so that you can do it.
To hear God’s voice you must pay attention—it is still and small. Listen to God’s word, not just as a word, but as a word for you. Look for God’s presence and action in the world and in the activities of people around you. Feel God’s presence in your spirit.
In prayer, spend at least as much time listening as you do talking. After all, who has the more important things to say? And how will you learn to recognize his voice if you are always talking?
As you learn to know the spirit in yourself, and as you learn to love your neighbor as yourself, you may start to recognize the spirit in your neighbor. This discernment is only trustworthy if it is combined with love. Let it lead to intercession. Or, if it would be helpful, if you are so led, to a spoken word. God’s gifts of grace are not for you alone but for the whole community. You are responsible for each other.
Lord, teach me to love others as deeply as you love them.