What if Listening for God Is About More than His Answers?
By Twyla Franz
Hear Him Louder Essay Series: Twyla's Story
I don’t remember exactly when I started praying about little things, but I remember stories, and how each taught me to trust God cares about all the things that matter to me.
A before-the-sun’s-risen morning in 2002 found me wedged in the backseat of a van, en route to Rotorua, New Zealand. My sleepiness was replaced with the sunken feeling that makes it hard to swallow when I realized I couldn’t find my purse beneath my seat. My purse not only held my spending money for the second month of the mission trip, it housed my passport and plane ticket home.
I prayed silently for hours as I both anticipated and dreaded our first pit stop.
Please, God, let my purse have slipped off my shoulder as I got into the van. Please let me find it. Please!
I knew I’d need to tell a leader soon. But almost nothing sounded more terrifying inside my fourteen-year-old head.
When we finally stopped, I could audibly hear the thudding of my heart—and when it stopped. It was there. Right inside the door. And I was no longer afraid to tell the whole story.
This moment marked how I would communicate with God moving forward. These kinds of moments kept happening.
I knew that He heard my prayers with a deep knowing I couldn’t put to words, but I wholly trusted. I knew He cared about the little things—even the preventable things—because He cared so tenderly for me.
When I left my cell phone on a couch in one of the tunnels beneath our college campus, God reminded me exactly where it was. I was immensely grateful but not surprised.
Months earlier, He’d told me clearly to return to a parking garage because my apartment key had fallen off my carabiner as I was getting into my car. He knew I needed this after a night of wandering downtown Dayton streets after dark, accepting help from the dad of the bride to find which of the three garages they were using for the wedding, taking every wrong interstate exchange, and finally making it back to campus, overtired and shaken, only to discover I couldn’t get into my apartment. (Goodness, I needed a GPS back then!)
Cultivating Conversation with God
The times when God answered “yes” or gave undeniable direction increased my expectation that He would talk to me, but I also knew the gift was the connection. The deep, intimate connection would help me trust the good heart of Abba Father when the answer was “no,” or “wait,” or “I’ve got something better.”
When you know in your soul that God is moved at the sound of your voice, how He answers is less important than the conversation. It’s through conversation that we know and are known, and our relationship with this glory-clad God works the same. We come boldly and open because we’re invited to come near and linger long. We bring our honest petitions and wrung-out hearts, but also casual conversation about the everyday question marks. Because all things, big and little, matter to Him, so we talk about them all.
How good God is to desire relationship with us. Think on it for a moment. This God who is holy, and perfect, and drenched in glory reaches through our what-ifs and but-how’s because He wants to spend time with us. He wants us to know Him the way the triune God knows Himself, with unashamed adoration and bare-soul transparency.
God Knows When We’ll Need Him Most
Sometimes we learn to trust God through the storms. Sometimes He prepares us beforehand because He knows what’s coming. I’ve experienced both.
Throughout my college years, especially two years in grad school when I had a campus apartment to myself, I spent countless hours with worship music loud and my face pressed into the carpet. I learned to come to God first. Savor His sweet presence. Practice listening, letting go, saying yes to His nudges. Sitting at His feet when I felt needy and undone—and when I needed nothing but to simply be and know I was loved.
The closeness this practice cultivated became a bedrock when what had been stable and good imploded, leaving a wake of hurts and razor-sharp question marks.
More recently, I’ve found myself drenched in weighty glory, often on my knees, asking why He tasked me with something that makes me wholly rely on Him. But I know why.
It’s the all-out surrender that paves the way for my yes to bring Him glory. It’s the wild, kingdom way of making the impossible possible, not the way I expect it to turn out, but the way that’s made Him smile all along.
As I write, I’m still on this side of the miracle. And He’s with me, near and dear nevertheless.
Learning to hear God’s voice works like muscle memory. When we draw close and learn to cherish the sound of God’s voice, it’s not just for the right-now. It’s also for when God knows we’ll need Him most.
Photo credit: Wix Media.
The Hear Him Louder Essay Series is a guest essay series where God's daughters share their stories of hearing God’s whispers in their every day. It’s meant to serve as an encouragement for the times when God feels far and seems quiet. When we read each other’s stories of how He meets us, it reminds and reassures us that He is near. May this series be an invitation for us to listen for His voice together.
Don't miss any posts in this series! Subscribe to receive each new essay in your inbox, posted every other Thursday. When you subscribe, you'll receive a FREE download of a Prayer Planning Worksheet, a resource to help you prepare your heart to listen for His voice in prayer.
New to this series? Check out the rest of the series!
Interested in contributing to the Hear Him Louder Essay Series? The call for submissions opens twice a year. To submit an essay outside of those windows, contact me.
Twyla Franz is a growing voice in the missional living niche whose words appear in publications like Relevant and Her View From Home.
She founded The Uncommon Normal in 2019 to help imperfectly-ready people take baby steps into neighborhood missional living.
Her 2019 word of the year, open, helped her dismantle the walls she’d built that kept her friendships shallow; she wants nothing more than to help other women find freedom and deep friendship on the other side of their own walls. Twyla and her family live in Lexington, KY, where they host a neighborhood missional community.
Learn more about her Pinterest for Writer’s E-Guide, gratitude blog series, and top friendship tips, or follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook.