By Toni Ford
Each year in December, I begin to pray about the upcoming year. I ask the Lord to show me a vision, focus or a word that He wants me to pursue for the coming year. This year, the Lord did not give me a vision or a subject area to focus on, but instead He gave me two words: presence and voice. In my heart of hearts, I believe the Lord wants me to dig deeper to understand not only the depth of those two words as they relate to Jesus but also to understand what it means to have more of His presence and voice in my life.
This past week, I was reading in the Gospel of John, Chapter 10, and the word “voice” is found all throughout this chapter. Not only was I excited to find this word mentioned so often throughout this chapter, but I also was challenged once again by this single word. John 10: 2-5 says, “But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger, they will run from him, because they don’t know his voice.” As I read those verses, I began to ask myself the following questions:
What does it mean to know my Shepherd’s voice? In order to know someone’s voice, I must first know the person. The way I know and come to learn about my Lord is to read His Word, the Bible. In the Bible I learn the character, the passion and the heart of my Heavenly Father. I begin to learn what brings Him joy and what His desires are for me. Before I can ever know His voice, I must first know Him!
What hinders my ability to hear His voice in my life? It is so easy to let the things of this world (i.e. social media, activity, television, my daily schedule) drown out the sound of His voice in my life. I have to weekly, and at times daily, check those areas in my life to make sure their voice is not being heard over my Father’s voice.
What are the strangers in my life I need to run from? These strangers might look different for each of us but we all have them, and half of the battle is won when we are able to recognize them in our lives. It is key to have an exit plan in place when faced with these strangers or temptations that keep us from hearing the voice of our Lord.
It is the Lord’s desire to give us visions and dreams and to speak to each one of us. However, we have to know Him first and then make sure our hearts and minds are open to hear from Him. John 10:10 in the Passion translation says it beautifully: “A thief has only one thing in mind – he wants to steal, slaughter and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect – life in its fullness until you overflow.”
May you begin to hear His voice more clearly in your life today.
If you would like for me to join you in prayer please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would love to pray for you.