I guess hearing Jesus’ voice means different thing to different people. I’ve got friends for whom hearing Jesus’s voice means accepting ‘thus sayeth the Lord’ type prophetic utterances, and other friends where it doesn’t seem to mean much more than using your common sense. I grew up in a church where hearing Jesus’ voice basically meant studying the Bible (or more precisely, believing the minister’s interpretation of the Bible), to determine what Jesus had said, but there was rarely any mention of what Jesus might be saying. Of course we were encouraged to pray to Jesus, but I don’t ever remember being encouraged to listen.
For me a big shift occurred when I was introduced to contemplative forms of prayer.
In our interview with Elaine Heath she described contemplative spirituality as 1. Showing up 2. Paying attention 3. Cooperating with God 4.Releasing the outcome.
My personality type means that I find it quite easy to ‘release the outcome’, i.e. put into action what I’ve heard. It’s the ‘paying attention’ bit I struggle with. But through contemplative forms of prayer I’ve begun to find that paying attention can also be really engaging.
For most of my faith journey praying meant talking into the silent blackness of my mind. But over the last few years I’ve begun to learn how to engage all the senses in prayer. So I’ve been trying to listen as I journal, or listening as I walk in the countryside, or visualising engaging in conversation with Jesus, or visualising being in a gospel story. Or rather than simply studying the Bible, slowing my reading down and looking for words and ideas that jump out at me, and allowing them to interact with my thoughts, feelings and memories.
So for me, contemplative prayer is essentially about finding creative ways to listen.
Of course this doesn’t mean I’ve had clear answers to all my prayers, but I’ve found that as I (and the community I'm a part of), have committed myself to creative contemplative prayer, I have experienced an increased sense of the guiding presence of Jesus.
What’s been your experience of hearing Jesus voice?