Prayer involves an odd paradox in our day. Almost everyone talks to God. Newsweek magazine noted that in a recent survey more the guided life Americans said they pray in a given week than work, exercise, or have sexual relations. Of the 13 percent of Americans who claim to be atheist or agnostic, one in five prays daily.
So why are we so often ambivalent about the notion of God talking to us? One recalls Lily Tomlin’s line in the play The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe:
Why is it that when we speak to God we are said to be praying, but when God speaks to us we are said to be schizophrenic?
If I am to have a relationship with God that is in any sense personal, I must be open to the possibility that sometimes God does speak directly to me.
Why should God’s end of the line be equipped with a receiver but no mouthpiece? In fact, being open and receptive to the leadings of the Holy Spirit is a non-optional part of transformation. Richard Foster makes this point:
In our day heaven and earth are on tiptoe waiting for the emerging of a Spirit-led, Spirit-intoxicated, Spirit-empowered people. All of creation watches expectantly for the springing up of a disciplined, freely gathered, martyr people who know in this life the life and power of the kingdom of God. It has happened before. It can happen again… Such a people will not emerge until there is among us a deeper, more profound experience of an Emmanuel of the Spirit — God with us, a knowledge that in the power of the Spirit Jesus has come to guide His people Himself, an experience of His leading that is as definite and as immediate as the cloud by day and fire by night.
I believe that the Holy Spirit really does offer to lead or guide or give direction to human beings — ordinary people. He wants to do this for all of us.
We can all learn how to be open to the promptings of the Spirit.
They are not reserved for the elite or for leaders only or for “important people.” They are not reserved for people who work as pastors or missionaries. They are not reserved for people who are “more spiritual” than you. The Holy Spirit can and will give direction to us if we desire it.
You may be right on the verge of experiencing this.
Your adventure is about to begin.
Excerpted with permission from The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg, copyright Zondervan.