Chapter 4: The Fear
“For I hold you by your right hand–I, the LORD your God.
And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.”
She came in smiling, lovely in her flowing skirt and top. Simple, vintage jewelry and just a tiny touch of makeup–perfect for this early afternoon date.
She has loved Him since she first saw Him. He has loved her first and always.
But this… this might be the first time she recognizes hearing His voice through prayer. This might be a time where she learns something about Him, or herself, or their relationship that she doesn’t know.
She has thoughts and questions for Him–but really, she is just aching to hear Him say anything at all. Anything. At all.
Her smile trembles a little, and the tears rush to her eyes when my prayer partner says, “He is glad you are here. He wants to communicate with you!”
It’s almost too good to hope… that God would speak directly to her.
It’s a brave thing she has done, coming before Him, leaving herself vulnerable — and with two other witnesses — to this dreaded possibility that God might not talk to her. Isn’t even this doubt she feels, this questioning, reason for Him not to?
It has been a common thread in many who have come to the listening prayer sessions.
God probably won’t speak to me because…
The list of fears is long.
Fear is not from God. The Spirit God gives to us is one of power, love, and self-control. This fear is ultimately that God won’t speak because of some action, or inaction, on our part. This fear is that His love will be withheld from us because of our weaknesses, our sins, our imperfections, or our doubts. Our Enemy loves to use this fear to highlight our focus on our unfaithfulness and minimize the focus on God’s unwavering faithfulness.
But God’s love is not conditional–it is Who He is.
“God is love …There is no fear in love. Because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love” (1 John 4:16, 18).
Our very real and prowling Enemy would love to make us a slave to fear — especially if it keeps us from seeking out God’s communication with us, because God’s perfect love will drive out all our fears.
The Father of Lies especially likes to use Scripture against those who know it to distort the truth about God’s character and His heart for us. Since Satan did this with Jesus in the desert, we should not be surprised when He tries this tactic with us. Let’s follow Jesus’ example and respond with “It is written…”
Let’s finally, once and for all, nail and seal those fearful lies in a coffin deep under the massive evidence of Biblical truth, shall we? Then don’t dig them back up.
I will address the two main fears I’ve encountered in some depth, and briefly address other potential fears.
Fear #1: God might not speak to me because I have doubts about Him.
What if I have doubts about God? What if doubt what He can, or what He is willing, to do for me? What if I even doubt that He is real and alive?
Answer: If God did not speak to us because of our doubts, His character would be extremely inconsistent with that of Jesus, which is not possible, because He does not change. Jesus is not surprised by our doubts. He spoke to those who doubted Him all the time throughout the Scriptures. Even those who had developed close relationships with Him still had doubts and struggles to believe Him about many things. Their doubts did not keep Him from speaking to them.
Evidence: It is written…
The father of a boy who was possessed by a demon said to Jesus “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us… I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” Jesus both spoke with the father and set his son free. You can read the whole story here.
During a terrible storm, Jesus’ disciples doubted that He even cared if they drowned. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Jesus spoke to them, rebuked the storm, and made everything still. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” You can read the whole story here.
Peter, one of the closest disciples to Jesus, shortly after he had seen Jesus supply food for five thousand people from only five loaves of bread and two fish (with twelve full baskets extra left over), doubted Jesus when he was called to join Him in walking on water. Peter began to focus on all the wind around him and fear began to sink him. Peter cried out to Jesus, and, even though Peter was doubting Him and sinking, Jesus not only spoke to Peter, but “Immediately reached out his hand and caught him.” Jesus asked Peter, “Why did you doubt me?” You can read the whole story here.
Thomas, one of the Twelve, even doubted that Jesus was risen and alive. This was even after Thomas had seen Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead. Jesus knew Thomas said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Jesus spoke directly to Thomas. He came and stood before Thomas and said, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” You can read the whole story here.
The Bible is full of stories of those who doubted God for all kinds of reasons, in all kinds of ways. It is also full of evidence that their doubt did not keep Him from communicating with them.
Fear #2: God might not speak to me because I am in habitual sin.
Answer: If God did not communicate with us when we habitually sin against Him, how would any of us, ever, reach the place where we stopped choosing, or falling into, sin patterns? It is Jesus that sets us free. We all sin. We may even have habitual sin we aren’t aware of. God does not draw a line in the sand and say, “If you sin one more time, I’m done with you.” Instead, He draws a very different kind of line in the sand.
Evidence: It is written…
Jesus knew that a woman was leading a “life of sin”, when she was brought to Him, caught in the act of adultery. A legalistic, letter-of-the-law group of self-proclaimed God followers came to Jesus and tried to get Him to consent to her death by stoning. Jesus not only convicted the entire crowd of their own sinfulness, He spoke directly to the woman. He said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and leave your life of sin.” You can read the whole story here.
Jesus also spoke to the the woman at the well, knowing fully that she, in His words, had previously had five husbands, and that currently “the fact is, the man you have now is not your husband.” He knew this about her. Yet, the first words Jesus said to her after He asked her for a drink was to tell her He would give her living water, eternal life, if only she would ask. Eternal life. He not only spoke to her, but He offered her an intimate relationship, and deep knowing, of Himself. You can read the whole story here.
Jesus tells a story of a prodigal son, who asks for his inheritance only to “squander it on wild living.” The son wastes everything his father gave him and ends up in a very desperate situation due to his choices and lifestyle. The son returns to the father, hoping to be a servant of his and to have enough food to fill his empty belly. The father runs to the son, embraces him, kisses him, and tells him in no uncertain terms that he is, and always will be, a son. Not a mere servant. You can read this whole beautiful story of what God communicates and speaks when we’ve squandered everything He has given us here.
What if, like Zacchaeus, you’re regularly cutting corners to become wealthy? What if you’ve cheated and defrauded people or the company you work for? What if you are dishonest and self-serving? Jesus spoke directly to Zacchaeus, before Zacchaeus made any lifestyle changes. Jesus even told Zacchaeus that He wanted to stay with him, in his home, knowing how others would view Him for doing so. Jesus says it clearly here, in this story, that people like Zacchaeus are exactly who He came to seek out. And He is seeking them with the desire and intent of saving them. “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 10:19).
No matter which part of a sin pattern you are currently in — caught red-handed and exposed, comfortably moving on and continuing, desperate and at the end of yourself, or materially-wealthy and spiritually-broke because of your sinful choices — God will still speak to you.
“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10).
- What if you deny Him, or abandon Him, when times are hard?
It is written…
Peter denied Christ, yet Christ came back to him and still entrusted those He loved so dearly to Peter. Even though Jesus knew Peter would say, three times, that he did not know Him, Jesus still spoke to Peter and told him that he would be the rock on which He built His church. You can read about this here, and here, and here.
Every one of Jesus’ disciples deserted Him and ran away when Jesus was being arrested to be led away to death. Even so, Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection, spoke to them many times, blessed them, and taught them many things. You can read about this here and here.
- What if you are currently, actively, prosecuting and killing those who believe and live for Christ?
It is written…
He just may use you to spread his fame further than most who walk this earth.
Read the story of man named Saul. Acts 9. God called Saul “His chosen instrument to bear my name to the Gentiles.”
- What if you are young?
He will not reject you, and He doesn’t want anyone to hinder you from coming to Him (Matthew 19:14). He draws you close. He carries you in His arms (Isaiah 40:11). He intricately wove your very being together when you were much younger and smaller.
He speaks to the young. I have been privileged to witness amazing listening prayer times with young children, one of which I will detail in a later chapter. But for now, more scripture evidence.
It is written…
Study the depth of what He entrusted to young Samuel, or king Josiah, who at only 8 years old was given rule of a kingdom. He called and enabled David to do amazing things from the time when he was only a shepherd boy, and to Mary, still a young woman, He entrusted His very Son.
It is from the mouth of children that He has perfected and ordained praise to silence the foe and the avenger (Psalm 8:2).
- What if you have committed murder?
I know He speaks to murderers, because He spoke to me after I had killed my first child and had scheduled the death of my second. But you don’t have to take my personal experience for infallible truth.
It is written in black and white…
He also spoke to the most legalistic, self-serving Pharisees. He spoke to the diseased, those who couldn’t see Him, the lame, those who were deaf, and to the demon possessed. Jesus even spoke to the dead.
He will speak to you.
Nothing can separate you. Nothing in your past, no amount of deadness inside of you right now, nothing in the future, nothing in all creation can separate you from His love.
He is faithful when we are not. Even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us to try to get it through our thick heads and fearful hearts that He loves us anyway and always and wants us to be in relationship with Him. We can be crucifying Him, and He will pray for us, “forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” This is His character that does not change.
He will speak to you.
Beloved sister, brother, friend… Be brave. Fear not. Listen to Him.
His heart is kind.
~excerpt from my free eBook about listening to, and hearing from God during prayer.
Is fear a reason you don’t listen for God’s communication in prayer?
Did the scriptural examples highlighted in this chapter change the “range” of people you believe God will speak to?