You recall Jesus' transfiguration: While Jesus was at prayer on a mountaintop, Peter, James, and John witnessed Him become “more brilliant than the sun.” Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus, and the disciples heard them discussing his “exodus.” The scene culminated with a cloud (the Shekinah, or cloud of God’s glory) overshadowing the mountain as God the Father proclaimed, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him” (Lk 9:28-35). We all want to hear God's voice the way Peter, James, and John did; and the narrative of Jesus' Transfiguration gives us a blueprint for doing that - a practice known as lectio divina, "divine reading."
Step 1 - Get yourself "into position" to hear God
We have it easy compared to the apostles. They had to climb a mountain before they experienced the Transfiguration. For most of us it's just a matter of finding a quiet place in the house or stepping out onto the porch. (Alright, depending on your family, a small hike might be in order.) Consciously place yourself in God's presence by making the Sign of the Cross. Pray the Our Father to ask God for the daily bread of his word. You need his word so that his Kingdom may more fully come and his will be more fully done in your life. This bread, like the Eucharist, strengthens us to fight temptation and the evil one (Eph 6:17; Mt 4:3-11). We need the Lord to open the ears of our hearts.
Step 2 - Read his word
Like Jesus, allow the Father to speak to you through Moses (representing the books of the Law) and Elijah (the prophets). Listen to Jesus himself in the gospels, and the apostles in the epistles. Accept what you read in a spirit of humility, not intellectual pride or skepticism. By all means, use the study notes in your Bible's margin and commentaries to better understand the text; but never allow your heart to question its truthfulness. Jesus is our model. As Dr. Scott Hahn pointed out, "Jesus embodies the response of personal humility that the form of the written Word requires. Hearing the Scriptures as the voice of the Father, he allowed himself to be formed by it message in all aspects of his human life" (Consuming the Word, p.99).
Step 3 - Invite the Spirit to "overshadow" you as you ponder what you have read
This is meditation, Christian meditation. No need to cross your legs or chant "ohm" (although softly reciting ten Hail Marys - a decade of the Rosary - is highly encouraged). Meditation simply means to think things over deeply and prayerfully. Try to get inside the text by asking questions. Interact with it the way Jesus interacted with Moses and Elijah. For example, if you were meditating on the Transfiguration, try putting yourself in St. James' sandals: What would have gone through your head when you saw Jesus' face begin emitting light right there in front of you? When you heard the Father say, "Listen to him," would your mind have turned to the parts of his teaching you had conveniently ignored? Now ask yourself, "What parts of Jesus' teaching have I been ignoring?" If you take seriously what you've read, how should your life change? Can you think of something concrete that you can begin doing today?
Step 4 - "Listen to him" - resolve to live what you have heard
Voice your thoughts and conclusions to the Lord. Ask him for the grace to live out whatever resolutions you have made. Allow Jesus to accompany you "down the mountain," as you reenter the business of life.
And there you go - 4 steps to hearing God's voice! Please let me know how it goes.
P.S., If you enjoyed this post, you might also like the soon-to-be-released book, Through,With, and In Him: The Prayer Life of Jesus and How to Make It Our Own.