How do we hear from God?
How do we use what we hear from God for his glory and our good?
How we hear, how we learn, and how we integrate learning into our lives has always been a part of my life. When I was a little girl, I would play “school”, pretending to be a teacher. Since then, I have loved everything about the exchange of teaching and learning, the act of taking in and sharing knowledge.
This fascination is probably one of the reasons I pursued a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. I want to know how students learn. I want to know how I learn.
So, how do we learn about God?
We listen to him. But, how do we really understand and obey his given message?
One helpful way that I have taught my students and my own children to hear from God is to search a passage of scripture for truth in three categories. I call this method “The Three Ps.” While reading any passage, we simply pick out a praise, a promise, and a practice that we can implement in our lives. Each part is important, but we especially can’t neglect that last “P.” In Philippians 4:9, Paul promises, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Searching for the “Three Ps”
Let’s try an example together by using a familiar Bible passage: Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Praise: God Deserves Our Worship
After reading this passage, we first look for words that show why God is deserving of our praise. What words reveal his praise-worthy character?
God is our provider (v 5).
God is our comforter (v 4).
God is the good shepherd (v 1).
We can take each of the characteristics above and use them to name who God is. This is a way to bring glory to him as Psalm 115:1 tells us to do: “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” For example, we can pray out loud: “God, you are our provider, and you give us everything we need.” This reminds us of a comforting truth while also praising God.
Promises: God Keeps His Word
Now we look for something that God promises he will do.
God leads me besides still waters (v 2).
God promises to guide me (v 3).
God will stay with me (v 4).
These promises motivate our confidence in God’s faithfulness. When we reflect on past experiences, we see how he has shown us goodness time and time again. When we ponder these assurances of unfailing love, we remember this: he kept his word before and he will keep his word again. He is unchanging, and that is a truth we need in this world of unrest and unknowns that often lead us to doubt and fear. God is faithful and trustworthy.
Practice: God Commands Our Obedience
Last, we look for a practice that this passage calls us to follow. What habit of obedience will bring glory to God?
I will be content for I shall not want (v 1).
I will tell people of my relationship with God because I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (v 6).
As we read scripture, we need consistent practice at identifying the truths that rebuke, guide, and encourage us. In order to “correctly [handle] the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15), we rely on the Holy Spirit to help us “so that we may understand what God has freely given us” (1 Cor. 2:12).
Applying the “Three P’s”
When I help my children and students learn to apply the “Three Ps” they’ve found, I try not to use a “one size fits all” approach—three life lessons tied neatly in a little box. The Bible is the living and active word of God, and he blows our little boxes away. He wants to give us more than we can ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20), so we can expect that the power of the Holy Spirit will be at work, helping us to apply scripture in very personal ways.
The next time you read scripture, ask yourself, “How does this passage help me to praise God? What promises can I believe? What does God want me to put into practice?” Then, trust the Spirit to guide and empower you to live according to the truth you’ve learned.
God deserves our praise as the Lord of our lives. He promised a way for us to be in a right relationship with him, despite our sin: Jesus’s death on the cross shows the faithfulness of God to keep his promises. Because of the gospel, we can practice the things we learn from the Bible, to the delight of God.
John 1:16 says, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” God’s word is a gracious blessing to us. Let us use the gift we’ve received, searching it and training ourselves to live by it for God’s glory.