Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host for this daily challenge. It’s Thursday, the day we try to apply and live out what we’ve learned this week from the Bible. This week we’ve been studying a bizarre story in the Bible where a man named Balaam was being paid to ask God to curse the Israelites, and tried to ignore God’s answer of “no”.  God stopped himusing an armed angel, who his donkey saw but Balaam did not.  When Balaam beat his donkey, God made the donkey speak to him!

When we get beyond the ridiculous idea of a talking donkey, and images of Shrek, the picture we get of God here is a responsive God who listens and speaks.

Balaam was planning for a God he could use and abuse.  He’s used to taking people’s money, claiming he can influence various gods and powers better than anyone else.  This seemed like just another day – being paid by the king of Moab to pray a curse on the Israelites.

But in this story, he meets his match, and realizes that the one true God has made him look like a fool.  God has a special plan for this nation of Israel, and no fraudster is going to stop it.

God still speaks today, but we can sometimes forget that and stop paying attention to him. When we let our focus stay on God, we can be used more easily by him.

We are not all that different from Balaam.  Many of us, thanks to our society and lifestyle, are used to thinking we are basically responsible for our own lives.  We can begin to think of God as a benign, distant idea that has no real influence in our lives.  Like Balaam, we might try to use him once in a while – invoking his name to sound spiritual, or praying an occasional prayer but never expecting a response.

What in your life do you think makes it hard to hear God truly speaking, and actually follow through on what he says?  It’s often that we want to be our own gods – we want to be in charge of our own destiny, and we’d rather God kept out of it, except when it suits us.  We put ourselves at the center of our lives, instead of God, when that happens.

That was Balaam’s problem – he thought he could use God for his own gain, without maintaining a relationship with him.  He had no idea what God was really like , or that Israel was his chosen nation, when Balaam prayed against them.

We might not all be as embarrassingly backward as Balaam, or interrupted in quite the same way with talking donkeys and such, but his lesson is a good one.  Start by cultivating a relationship with God, to learn his ways and his plans.  Open yourself to being used by God for his purposes, rather than trying to use God for your own purposes.

Main way we hear God’s voice is through the Bible and in prayer.  Read the Bible regularly, in addition to these challenges.  Use an app like Youversion’s Bible app to get a reading plan that works for you.

And for our challenge, we’re asking you to pray and listen to God’s voice.  Don’t just talk – spend some time listening for God’s voice as well.  It may be audible to you, it may not.  It may be a nudge, an idea, a feeling, a word, or a passage in the Bible.  But listen for it.

Challenge: Spend time in prayer, seeking to know what God has for you. Spend time listening for God in silent prayer, after committing yourself to allowing him to speak to you.  What was it like to give this kind of attention to God?  What can you do to notice more of God’s awesome works this week?