It’s morning. I glance around my little apartment at the many signs I’ve purchased over the years from thrift stores and flea markets. “I Will Never Fail You.” “Be Still and Know that I Am God.” “I Can Do All Things through Christ Who Strengthens Me.” “Set Your Mind on Things Above.” Each one reminds me of a specific promise in God’s Word.

From atop the refrigerator, my boombox plays a favorite CD, “Hidden in My Heart.” It soothes my soul. It’s a war out there, and I need constant reminders that God is on my side.

You’d think that with all these reminders, I would barrel out the door, ready to challenge any foe or dark spirit that awaits me and conquer the world. But it takes more than a sign to get me ready for whatever battle lies ahead. Not to mention the one raging within me—my daily war against anxiety, fear, and doubt.

And that’s why, before I run out the door, there’s something important I need to do. I must stop to pray and wait to hear from God.

So I move over to my recliner and begin to acknowledge my Lord and Savior. I praise Him for His undying love and grace and, most of all, His majesty. I read aloud a daily protection prayer given to me by one of my mentors. And then I ask God to show me what He wants me to read in His Word. I hear in my mind, “First John.” So I read it and carefully look for the message God has for me today. I keep a journal nearby to write down whatever He reveals to me.

Next, I ask Him who He wants me to cover in prayer. I think of several people and pray for them. I then ask God to guide me to where He would have me go today and to use me for His purposes. I intentionally slow myself down and refuse to allow my flesh to rush me out the door.

Only then am I ready to go.

I wish I could say I have this time and dialogue with God every morning. I want to, I mean to, and I know I need to—but still, I often don’t. And when I don’t, I stumble through the day, bouncing off the walls, all the while wondering why I feel so anxious and disconnected from God.

I have learned the hard way the importance of starting each day by sharing my heart with God and listening for His voice. How else can I develop a deeper relationship with Him and know His will except through dialogue with Him?

I don’t want to be that person who talks incessantly and never lets anyone else speak. I know a few people like that, and I confess, when I see their names on my phone, I hesitate to answer.

But how often have I been the incessant one with God? I ask Him for things, do most of the talking, and never stop to listen to what He has to say. I wouldn’t blame God one bit if He ignored my calls. But He doesn’t!

Talking to God is important, but listening to Him is vital, and I’m really trying to get better at actually doing it. I want to listen more closely so I can follow God better. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27 NIV).

Do you feel disconnected from God and overwhelmed? Perhaps you need to put on the brakes, find a quiet place, and like Psalm 46:10 (and another sign on my wall) says, “Be still and know that I am God.” God has so much He wants to say to you, so much He wants to show you. Take the time to listen. And I’ll try to do the same.