I am trying to build a daily relationship with Christ but struggling. I get so easily pulled back into the world with my self desires. I know that reading the Word and fellowship helps be with the Lord but I have problems with moment to moment practically to daily living. When I ask the Lord a question in my heart, how do I know that it’s the Lord talking to me and not my own voice talking to me claiming it’s Gods voice? I hope this makes sense. Please let me know if needed more elaboration. Thanks!
@mtolj I believe the way we know God more is by seeking Him in prayer/worship/community, obeying His commands and studying His Word. There is no need to try to hear voices in our minds or to figure out which feelings are from God. The better path is to study and obey His Word and live a life of prayer and worship. C. S. Lewis says that rather than focusing on how we feel we should do what God has commanded and behave as if we feel as we ought, then the feelings will follow. I think that is some serious wisdom.
I wish someone had given me this book by Garry Friesen when I was much younger - it very clearly lays out how to discern God’s will and seek His guidance in life. I highly recommend it. I’ve also included some other resources below.
Hope that is helpful and may Jesus guide you / fill you with His Spirit
C. S. Lewis’ “Let’s Pretend” Chapter in Mere Christianity
So, one thing you may do is pick up a copy of C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and read the chapter entitled ‘Let’s Pretend’. While his focus is not on feeling a love for God, I think it is relevant. If we have the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives, then if we live out God’s commandments as if we love God I believe that love will develop over time. Remembering of course that love is not simply a feeling but an attitude of the heart.
“Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children’s games are so important. They are always pretending to be grown-ups—playing soldiers, playing shop. But all the time, they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits so that the pretence of being grown-up helps them grow up in earnest (p. 188).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him… There is, indeed, one exception. If you do him a good turn, not to please God and obey the law of charity, but to show him what a fine forgiving chap you are, and to put him in your debt, and then sit down to wait for his ‘gratitude’, you will probably be disappointed (p. 131).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
In this chapter, entitled “Let’s Pretend,” Lewis relates the first words of the Lord’s prayer to a common childhood activity in order to illustrate just what the Christian life entails. He begins, though, by referencing stories like Beauty and the Beast, where what begins as a hideous monster ends up becoming a handsome man; or a story where someone had to wear a mask that made him look nicer than he really was—but in the end, when he took off the mask, his face had grown to fit it, and he had become quite handsome. In stories like this, “What had begun as a disguise had become a reality.” That is why we like stories like these: they point to transformation—and deep down, we all yearn for transformation.
"Lewis is saying that where there is a sincere love for God, then obedience will shape our character to enjoy that obedience. The love for God in our hearts will leap towards others when we love them; taking our heart in which His love is encased with it. Where God’s love is truly present it serves as a strong magnet drawing us towards others if we will move towards them enough to feel its pull.
This is the reason for Lewis’ “exception.” It is not the action of “loving as if you loved” that produces genuine affection. It is the presence of God’s love in us and our love for God getting close enough to another person to be activated that produces change."
Meditation...how to hear from God
Thanks Sean! The only issue I have with that is that it’s hard for me to have a feeling that I ought to do something. Because then I feel it’s not from my heart of the love towards the Lord. I don’t know if I make sense. For instance, if I’m burdened in a day and don’t feel like reading the scripture then I rather tell the Lord honestly that I’m upset and don’t feel to read the Word. At least in that case I’m exposing myself to the Lord and not holding inside myself. It’s almost as if I’m keeping a secret from God. I will defenitely read that book brotha.
@mtolj Definitely agree we should not try to hide the state of our heart from God - we should always be honest. I think Lewis is not saying to try to deceive God, but just not to focus so much on our feelings because they are often out of our control.
However, I do think we can learn from David in the Psalms - he would often preach to his own heart when he just wasn’t feeling his faith.
Yep, it’s a good book!
Preach to Your Own Heart
If we read the Psalms, we often find that David, even though a man after God’s own heart, knew his own heart was not aligned with God’s truth, so he preached to his own heart. He reminded himself of God’s faithfulness and attributes and love. So I think we see from David’s example in the Psalms that it is normal for us humans to need to preach to our own heart.
Psalms 103:1-2 - Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits
Very good Sean! I also wanted to add that sometimes we put a lot of focus in praying God’s will for our lives. For example, I had someone tell me they were praying God’s will about their marriage. Specifically on whether to stay married, or choose to go down this other path with someone else (they were in an affair).
In this case, the person’s emotional feelings were driving their desire to want to hear from God that they should leave their husband. But in reality, the Bible is VERY clear on this subject. We don’t have to always pray for God to tell us His will on a subject that he has very clearly instructed us about in His breathed Word.
I have personally had issues where God’s Word told me His will for me in an area of my life. At that point, praying for God’s help and direction in that area has given me a much better path towards seeking Him.