“The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.” (Jonah 3:1)

Jonah wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice. After all, spend­ing a few nights in a fish’s gut can be very persuasive. With a little imagi­nation, you can picture him trudging off in the direction of Nineveh— still dripping with seawater, but now determined to follow the leading of God.

For Jonah, it took radical mea­sures to convince him to respond to God’s call. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that for us! Instead, let’s get into the habit of trying to sense what God wants to say to us. It’s really not so hard. God has given all of us the gift of spiritual intuition. He wants to guide our lives. All we have to do is learn how to hear him.

Try to start small. For instance, if you get a sense that you should put aside a grumpy mood, maybe it is a word from the Lord. So ask for his grace to cheer up. If you get an inkling that you should join a minis­try in your parish, test it out. Maybe it’s God leading you. You’ve got to start somewhere! As you practice, you’ll get better at discerning God’s voice.

Give God a chance; believe that he wants to speak to you, and start to listen expectantly. The “word” that first came to Jonah was probably more like a sense in his heart than the sound of a human voice. It prob­ably wasn’t all that dramatic. But look at the fruit it ultimately bore! Well, you can expect to feel similar nudges throughout the day!

God’s word doesn’t come just through these inner senses, either. It can come through other people, as it did when Nathan spoke the word of God to David in 2 Samuel 12. It can come through Scripture, as it did for St. Augustine. It can even come through an enemy. The point is: God really wants to talk to us!

In your prayer every day, pay attention to the thoughts that come into your mind—especially the ones that fill you with love for the Lord or a desire to serve his people. Keep a journal of these thoughts, and see if you can detect a pattern to them over time. It just may be God talking to you!

“Speak, Lord, for I’m listening.”

Psalm 51:3-4,12-13,18-19; Luke 11:29-32