A Curious Journey
By Cynthia Hagen, first published in Compass, Spring 2015
Cynthia Hagen works in The Navigators People Resources Team with Ian and Helen McIntosh, and is based in Colorado Spring, USA.
I hoped it was true, but was guarded. People were talking about listening to God’s voice. As a first year university student, I had come to know Christ and immediately was taught the Word and its importance. I heard my Bible teachers criticize those from camps that believed they heard from God. Add that to growing up in a church that based doctrinal issues on tradition and man’s wisdom, I developed a fear of ever being led astray by feelings and misinterpretations.
So, after knowing Christ for thirty years, years of exegetical Bible study and too many sermons to count, the idea of God speaking to me sounded refreshing. The idea of communicating with God in a two-way dialogue sounded appealing. Most of the places where I could hear teaching on the topic of listening prayer were in a different “stream” to my evangelical one. I distrusted this stream and their biblical interpretation. I went to a few seminars, but found they were biblically weak.
About 15 months into my curious journey I was invited to travel 1,500 miles to Colorado Springs to a Listening and Healing Prayer seminar sponsored by the Navigators. Neither the university I studied at nor the one I served on had a Nav ministry, but I knew of them by reputation and had participated in and led many Navigator Bible studies. I was eager to see what was to be taught at this seminar.
The first part of the seminar was a talk on ‘The Biblical Basis for Hearing God’s Voice’. I thought: “If this is true, everything could be different, but I am sure there will be something that won’t be right.” I listened carefully to every passage to see if it was used out of context. By the end of the seminar, I did not find even one reference taken out of context. Actually, I realized I had a preconceived idea that God could only speak through the scripture, and that I had missed the very thing the Word was teaching: that God has always communicated with His people, in may different ways.
There were three passages that caught my attention. Elijah did not hear God in some extravagant way, but rather he heard His still small voice. (1 Kings 19:12) This sounded promising: but what about the New Testament? Most of us had memorized 2 Corinthians 12:9 early on. The part I had missed was that “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness” was not Paul’s conclusion, but specifically God’s voice responding to Paul’s request. And finally, in John 16:12-14, Jesus foretells the role of the Holy Spirit who would speak to us what He hears from the Father. Jesus promised and delivered on the Holy Spirit who guides, counsels, convicts and speaks.
My initial thought was correct: the reality of the voice of God changed everything! My walk with God became more relational. The greater intimacy I developed through listening to God was astounding. God spoke to me about His love for me. He spoke directly to some of the wounded places of my heart, and showed me the lies I had believed. From day one of listening to God I compared what I heard to the scripture I had studied for so long, which helped me know I was indeed hearing God’s voice. God also directed me through listening prayer.
Ten months later I became a Navigator. Now, 11 years later, I spend most of my days helping staff come before God and hear His voice. My favourite presentation to give is ‘The Biblical Basis for Hearing God’s Voice’.
Editor’s note: We are able to discern the voice of God from other counterfeit voices, such as our own imagination, or even the Enemy, by submitting everything to the authority of the Scriptures. To learn how to do that, we recommend this great resource: Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer (Navpress) by Rusty Rustenbach. Contact the Nav office to order a copy.