I never fell asleep first. As a little girl sharing a room with my younger sisters, it didn't take long before the warm, sleepy darkness was filled with the sound of their little lungs falling up and down. I hated this space and cherished it. I hated being left behind, but loved these quiet moments to think.
Some nights I would just lay there listening to the sounds of the night. Wind rattling outside our windows, creaks and groans of our wooden floorboards, the occasional rustle and stir of one of my little sisters. And sometimes I thought I heard the voice of God. I was always on the look out for it.
In those late night hours I'd pray and ask God to show me an angel. I'd close my eyes tightly and pray with my whole heart for God to come speak to me through one of those celestial beings. I'm not exactly sure why I wanted to speak to an angel so badly, I just know I wanted to hear from God in a tangible way. And the Bible said sometimes he spoke through angels.
But inevitably, every time I'd ask to meet an angel, I'd suddenly get shy, terrified that God would answer my prayer and actually send an angel! And I'd start praying immediately that he would quickly reign any angel he might have sent down back into heaven and that I was just kidding, maybe another time God.
Then I would roll over and slowly drift off to sleep.
Sometimes I think this is how we pray when we pray as adults. We long to hear from God, but are shy, scared, or uncertain of how we'll feel about what he has to say. We seek his face earnestly, and then back down at the last moment, because what if God actually speaks?
What if he says something I'm not going to like? How will I know if it's him speaking? How do I know if I'm hearing hIs voice?
I don't have the answers for those questions. I'm not an expert in hearing that "still, small voice"-- I never have been. I hear God much more clearly when I read the Bible than when I sit still and listen to him.
However, I don't think it's any less important to practice quieting our hearts so heaven can speak. I don't know what he'll say, or if you'll hear him speak. But I do know a listening heart is a humble heart. It's a humble heart that kneels before heaven, asking to do the Father's will.
The humble heart hears the heartbeat of God.
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. - Psalm 25:9
The first step to hearing is kneeling. The first step to intimacy, is quieting your heart. It's saying "Here I am Lord, your servant is listening."
But maybe you're still afraid of what you're going to hear. I always know when my view of God is tainted by a faulty and earthly lens when I come before him afraid. Yes, God deserves our awe, respect and reverence, approach him with honor. But his heart is one that loves, who sees you through the death of his beloved Son. He looks at you and sees his perfect child, one he has created for his pleasure, one who he desires to know his heart.
He longs to speak to you because he loves you. We just need to be brave enough to be still, to be humble, and brave enough to listen.