We do not recognize the extent to which laws at work in us and around us are determining whether we will recognize God’s activity in our life. Very often we fail to experience Him, even though we want to, because our flawed preconceptions have shut the doors and windows of our soul, locking Him out.
On the road to Emmaus, as two of His disciples were discussing the events that had just taken place in Jerusalem, “Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.” As He spoke, their hearts burned within them. And as He opened Scripture to their minds, as only He could, they still didn’t recognize Him. (Luke 24:13-31)
Their eyes were prevented from recognizing Jesus, because their flawed preconceptions ruled out the possibility that it could be Him.
They knew Jesus had died just days before . . . so this couldn’t be Jesus.
* * *
I so badly want you to hear God, that I am consumed by it. But you are never going to get there, until you understand that there are laws and principles at work, determining whether you will be able to see and hear God, when He is making Himself evident to you.
As much as I want to recognize Jesus, when He is at work in my life . . . my own history has proven how quickly I shut myself tight against Him, where my thinking is prejudiced, when I am afraid of what I am hearing, and when I do not have a big enough picture of God to handle the information I’m being given.
* * *
The soft drone of surrounding conversation, punctuated by an occasional peal of laughter insulated the three of us at our corner table in the candlelit dining room. Richard had flown in to work with Bill; and this evening as always, when Richard came to visit, Bill included me in their camaraderie.
Richard was our friend — someone I greatly admired as an author and for his insightful contributions to Bill and the agency. That night I asked him if he could pinpoint when his work as a career coach had taken off. Pausing for just a moment, Richard answered, his voice soft with reflection.
“I know exactly when it happened. Everything came together in my coaching, when I began to recognize the light in each of my clients. I learned that if I asked the right question, my client would recognize the answer he was looking for — the truth he needed to hear rose up within him, carrying its own conviction.” 
Something in me contracted hard and fast. Like a mollusk sensing sudden danger, my protective shell slammed shut. As a newish Christian, this sounded “new age”, and I didn’t trust it. Lowering my eyes, I hoped Richard didn’t sense my withdrawal. It had only been a few years since I had emerged from that kind of thinking, and I was fiercely protective of Jesus being the only true light. Knowing that Richard was relating a non-Christian experience, I distrusted it and found myself shutting it (and him) out . . . Our beloved friend deserved much more from me, but this is what fear and immaturity in the ways of God does.
Early the next morning, I sought the refuge of my big armchair with my Bible and devotionals on my lap. Here in The Word I would meet with The One who could sort it out for me. 
The Premise with which I approach every quiet time is this: my circumstances have shaped a need or a question in myself, which the passages I am about to read have been divinely orchestrated to address.
I come looking for the correspondences between my reading for the day and what is taking place right then in my life. I don’t come to this time out of duty but in eager delight—excited to see what the Lord has to say. It is rare that I rise to leave without recognizing at least one amazing correspondence He has engineered for me, that specifically addresses something He wants me to see.
That morning I came with a heavy heart, fearful and closed — knowing that I needed Him to throw open the windows to let the light and air in.
I opened to the first chapter of the book of John.
John had been an intimate witness of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus; and he knew that he was meant to record it. He longed to carry this task to completion faithfully, but at the same time He struggled. How could his words ever do justice to Jesus—capturing Who He was—for those who had not witnessed the drama that had so recently unfolded on the small plain stage of Judea? How would he language what lay behind Jesus’ eyes, His face, His message? Missing Him terribly John could still see the shape of His hands, His dear familiar sandaled feet caked in dirt from a day’s long walk, the mirth in His eyes, the robustness of His laughter, the silence of His tears when there was nothing more that would make men hear.
As John struggled to language his fierce devotion, something happened. A curtain lifted, and suddenly all that Jesus had been to John on earth was swallowed up by how John saw Him in eternity.
The words John penned, then, were the words I was opening to now.
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness . . . the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.
John 1:1-5,9, NASU
John, the mystic who beheld the eternal Jesus, declared Him to be the light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.
I sucked my breath in hard as the message hit me. What Richard had described the night before was this. . . the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. I had been afraid of, and shut myself down against the very phenomenon Scripture was presenting me now . . . because I assumed it was a non-Christian experience, and therefore, it could not be Jesus. The night before, my eyes were prevented from recognizing the very One I love, graciously and gloriously at work surfacing truth in the lives of Richard’s clients, because my prejudiced, limiting preconceptions kept me from seeing what was taking place.
I had needed a bigger understanding of God to handle the information I was being given.
I needed to see how much more generous and gracious He was, than I had previously credited Him being. It was like He threw open the windows of my soul, so that I was no longer closed down tight, afraid, limited and immature in my understanding of His ways.
A template for recognizing how God enlightens us
When I stopped fearing Richard’s description of working with the light that was already present in his clients, his experience became a template for me, teaching me how to work with the light that is in me.
Richard had said, “Everything came together in my coaching, when I began to recognize the light in each of my clients. I learned that if I asked the right question, my client would recognize the answer he was looking for — the truth he needed to hear rose up within him, carrying its own conviction.”
- He was saying what Scripture affirms . . . that the Light, coming into the world, enlightens every man . . . and that light is enlightening me, waiting for me to work with it!
- When Richard’s clients come to him, they are coming out of circumstances that have shaped a need or a question in themselves — when I come to the Lord, I am coming with a need or question that has been shaped by my circumstances.
- Richard learned that if he asked the right question, the answer with the compelling truth his client needed would surface in them — as I begin to read my Scripture and devotional passages for the day, they trigger the question that has to be asked, or touch the place that hurts, SO THAT God can surface the corresponding answer ready to rise in me.
The power is in the question
Richard would often say, “The power is in the question.” 
God would ask the prophets, “what do you see?”
Jesus would ask His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” and He would ask the one needing to be healed, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Questions locate the issue in us that God wants to speak to.
Very often we miss what God is saying, because we have not located the connection between what is taking place inside of us, in our present circumstances, and what God has to say to us that day. The power of the question is that it locates that point of connection.
Too often we come to The Word not fully aware of what is unstable or unsettled in us, hurting or bothering us — and so, as He begins to address that place in us, His words fly right past us without making the needed connection. We read our Bible, pray, scan our devotionals and rise up to go on with our day, without recognizing the intimate fit of the message He had specifically brought to us.
These are the kinds of laws and principles that are in operation in us and around us, determining whether we are going to understand what God is saying to us or not. But as long as we remain ignorant of them, we will wonder why we don’t hear and see God.
There is always a question or a need that has to be identified by us, before we can recognize the answer that God is already bringing us.
I don’t often come to my quiet time knowing what my need or question is; I am just in need, and I don’t know why. But as I read, there will be a phrase or a thought that will touch what needs to be surfaced in me. It is like His words reach into me driving straight to the submerged issue, clothing it in words to bring it to the light, helping me to identify “the subject” between God and me. . . from His perspective, which is generally understanding, but always calling me higher.
“Adam, where are you?” That question still resonates between each of us and God. The power of the question is its identification to us of that place where we are hiding, with which we need to identify, in order to connect with what God is saying to us there.
The question sounds, and of its own accord the answer begins to rise in us. And almost always, the answer He solicits, rising of its own accord in us, is powerful . . . and though it rises from within to be whispered horsely from our own lips, we are hearing it as we speak it, for the very first time.
The power of the question is that it enables you to hear the answer God has already given you. It locates that point of connection in you. . . where your circumstances have shaped you to receive the word He is giving you. . . which needs to be drawn out of you in order for you to hear it and recognize it for yourself.
Such are the laws and principles at work in us and around us, that we cannot ignore, whose outworking will determine if we understand what God is saying to us or not.
The working of Silence
Silence is one of the powerful elements we need to do its work in us, if we are to understand what God is saying to us.
Being in touch with our self, our instability, our anger, our hurt, our pain, our questions is absolutely necessary if we are going to recognize what God is saying to us about those things. We need the working of silence to hear the question, and to experience God’s answer rising in us.
When we turn off the music, the sports, the news, the television, the internet, and the ringtones of our cell phone long enough to dwell in the silence our soul needs — we soak in what He is saying to us.
We need silence to recognize how our circumstances are shaping our need. We need alone-time to recognize the message that has been shaped to fit that need.
Give yourself to the working of silence, if you want to intimately and powerfully recognize God drawing beside you, at work in your life.
 My translation of his words, remembered years later
 Every year I read through the Bible chronologically. Some years I follow the plan produced by the Blueletter Bible (www.blueletterbible.org/reader/daily), other years the plan from the Ryrie Study Bible. And some of my favorite devotionals include: Daily with the King, by W. Glyn Evans; On the Highroad of Surrender, by Frances J. Roberts; Sparkling Gems, by Rick Renner; God Calling, by A. J. Russell; My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers; The Word for You Today, by Bob Gass (produced as a booklet quarterly or on-line); Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young; and Experiencing God Day-by-Day, by Henry and Richard Blackaby
 Our friend Richard J. Leider founded The Inventure Group, and is the author of several books, including The Power of Purpose