Learning to focus on God’s thoughts, for a change
4 min read
How precious to me are Your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand — when I awake, I am still with you. Psalm 139:17–18 NIV
Once we have become friends with God through Jesus, we have a conversation going with Him. But a listening attitude is important if we are going to hear His voice — not pretending we know best. Agreeing that His thoughts are precious is a good way of seeking His wisdom for our lives.
Conversation with God
Some people are better at conversation than others. A couple of things that are the mark of every good conversationalist, are the ability to ask good conversational questions, which empower the response of others… and listening to them.
And one of the most common of those empowering phrases is: “What do you think? Or the variant, “What did you think of…?”
People find it easy (too easy, sometimes) to give their opinion, and asking for their opinion is honouring. God doesn’t need our help in conversation… or does He? He speaks all the time. But like the quiet participant in a noisy group, He doesn’t always have opportunity to say what He thinks, to give His perspective.
Show that we are listening
“What do You think? What are You saying, about what is on my mind?” In conversation generally, we need to draw out the quiet person. We have to show that we are listening. We have all been trapped in situations where no one is listening and we don’t see any point in putting forward a view just to be shouted down.
Does God struggle with our strong opinions and prejudices? Because it is as if we don’t care about His perspective.
Have you ever tried to participate in a conversation where you held the high ground in terms of knowledge or experience, but no one would listen? They were all too busy offering their theories, over-assertive as people who are unsure of themselves often are. It’s like a hospital doctor trying to help someone who is full of having consulted “Dr Google”, or a traffic cop trying to talk down gently someone three times over the limit.
That can be our approach to God, which blocks His wisdom and disrespects His all-seeing, all-knowing higher perspective.
When we agree “How precious to me are YOUR thoughts” we are putting ourselves in the right place to listen.
Three main ways we hear God
How does God share His thoughts with us? The first way is through His word. Often He draws our attention to what He has already said, and giving it a sense of how it applies to us. So to make this prayer approach, we need a Bible (or online Bible or app) ready.
God is always speaking and the second way is by an impression in our spirit. Occasionally this can be so strong that it is almost audible, but often it is more of a whisper. We’ll need to check it out in the word — He never contradicts Himself — but God also uses the principle of “two or three witnesses”, in other words, He repeats Himself and uses more than one avenue. When we are hearing the same thing from slightly different sources, this gives us confidence to believe what God is saying.
The third way is through other people who love Him and hear Him. It could be a Christian friend, a preacher, or through spiritual gifts.
“How precious are Your thoughts” is a way of asking for God’s wisdom. James, in his letter, says we should ask but should not doubt what we hear, but act on it (James 1:5–8).
It all starts with our relationship with Him. This needs to be the Jesus kind of relationship, the personal belief and trust and connection. This is how we count His thoughts precious and receive them as life-giving.
O God, Your thoughts are precious, of incomparable value by the measure of man’s wisdom. You see all, understand all, and know the end from the beginning.
Help me to be a hearer and a doer of Your Word. Where my thoughts crowd in — my anxieties and doubts, my wrong judgments and the opinions I proudly uphold‚ forgive me, help me to quiet my soul and — to make space for You to speak and me to hear.
My way too often proves to be no way, but Your way is life and salvation. Your words are like gold and taste sweeter than honey (Psalm 12:6; Psalm 119:103).
Thank You, holy and Almighty God, that You delight in speaking to me as I come to You in Jesus. Amen.
- Find a time and place to be quiet. It could be at home, out for a walk, even driving the car — or a quiet spot in a church building.
- List your most pressing concerns — the thoughts You are full of — and park them with God.
- Commit the listening time to Him, ask the Holy Spirit to help you and read the Scriptures mentioned again. And note down whatever God shows you, whether it seems to make sense or not.
- Be open to God speaking to you subsequently and give you confirmations, like Scriptures that go with what you sense you are hearing. To share this with a pastor or trusted Christian friend can be very helpful.