|University of Michigan|
Prayer is, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, a "conversation with God." A conversation involves speaking and listening. As we listen for the voice of God how can we discern whether what we hear is from God or not? (On this see Dallas Willard, Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God)
The answer to this is: as intimacy with God increases, discernment increases.
This principle applies to many things. For example, a few weeks ago Linda and I saw the movie "Saving Mr. Banks." There was a point in the movie where a few tears were coming from her eyes. Because we've been married 40+ years I had an idea where those tears were coming from. I'm not always right about this kind of thing. But because of our long-term relational intimacy rooted in much time spent in conversation, my ability to discern Linda's heart is far greater than it was when I first met her.
The more you practice and perform the more you can discern what to do on the guitar. The more you teach the more you can discern what's really going on in the classroom. And so on.
Conversely, when intimacy is low discernment is low.
The growing ability to discern what God is saying in the prayer relationship comes from much conversational time with God. As Henri Nouwen writes: "Once we have committed ourselves to spending time in solitude, we develop an attentiveness to God's voice in us." (From Making All Things New, cited in Nouwen, Seeds of Hope, 64)
Converse with God today.