If we said we had a personal relationship with another person, we’d all assume, at the very least, some degree of regular, back-and-forth conversation. So how does a “personal relationship with God” work? We talk to God through prayer, but how does God talk back to us? Of course He uses the Bible, which provides general information, but to say we have a personal relationship, there must be more and deeper conversation, where we “hear” God’s words, not just in general, but specifically for us. We’ll discuss how this works and how to move in that direction if you’ve not experienced this intimate level of communication with God.

Discussion Questions

Think about a skill you have, which you know how to do well, that would appear complicated to someone who did not know how to do it (e.g., driving a manual transmission, supervising an effective team, calculus). Recall how you felt about this skill before you learned how to do it. What was involved with learning? How long did it take? What was the journey like? Do you still have more to learn?

Have you ever heard God speak to you personally? What was it like? How sure are you that it was God? What did He say? Did you act on it? Why? Read 1 Kings 18 & 19. Compare Elijah’s actions and behaviors between these two chapters. What was his posture in chapter 18? Why do think it was so? How did this change in chapter 19? Why do you think this happened. Imagine yourself in the situation Elijah was in 19:1-5. If you had been in this situation how would YOU have responded? What emotions would you need to deal with? Why?

In many places in the bible, God talks with a “loud” voice using natural phenomena like thunder (1 Samuel 2:10; Job 37:2; Psalm 104:7; John 12:29) powerful wind (Job 38:1) earthquake (Exodus 19:18) or fire (Exodus 3:2-3). Yet in 1 Kings 19:11-13, God used none of these but spoke in “a still small voice” (NKJV) or a “gentle whisper” (NIV). Why do you think God used this means to communicate with Elijah in this situation? How was this communication different than those when God spoke with a “loud” voice? How might this apply to you?

Experiment with the ancient Christian spiritual practice of Lectio Divina, a Latin term which simply means “divine reading.” There are no strict rules to follow, but “traditionally, Lectio Divina has four separate steps: read; meditate; pray; contemplate. First, a passage of scripture is read, then its meaning is reflected upon. This is followed by prayer and contemplation on the Word of God. [1]” Don’t focus on analyzing the passage. Instead, read slowly and listen for words or phrases that make an impression on you. Start with short passages. If you’re not sure which to use try Jer 33:1-3 or Psalm 25:4-5. Ask God to provide insights, then reflect on these thoughts. Don’t worry if no clear thoughts arise immediately, keep at it and ask God for insight.

[1] Christian spirituality: themes from the tradition by Lawrence S. Cunningham, Keith J. Egan 1996 ISBN 0-8091-3660-0 page 38

Further Reading

Resistance Training

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While salvation is instantaneous, spiritual maturity involves a process. It’s one filled with twists and turns and failures and successes. And each stage of our growth requires an awareness of whether we’re a spiritual baby, a young person in the faith or a mature...

Time to Grow Up

Change is part of life. And we can change for good or change for the not-so-good. In the language of the Bible, changing for good is called growth. It’s normal for living things to grow—under one condition—if they’re nourished. In other words, growth doesn’t happen...

Proverbs: The Quest for Character

We might define success by using external qualities like the amount of money someone accumulates or the amount of fame they achieve. However, in the Bible, we find a successful life is defined by our character - our disposition towards qualities like love and...

God Gave

We’ve just come through a time of gift-giving and joy. Of course, the most significant gift of all was God’s gift of Jesus to the world. We find this profound truth simply stated in what might be the most famous of all Bible verses: John 3:16. Maybe this verse is so...