Learning the language of God requires a good bit of personal experience. Spiritual writers and speakers sometimes say things like, “God’s voice is whispering in the rustle of the leaves and is singing to us through the melody of the birds.” But these sorts of statements often drive beginners away, saying, “What the heck are they talking about? Birdsong is beautiful, but I don’t hear any message from God in it.” They may go away, believing that these “prayer people” are crazy and are hearing things that aren’t there. Or they may believe that God has nothing to say to them and that they should leave the praying to monks and nuns. But God does have his stories to tell and some of them are meant just for me. God wants to cultivate a deep and personal relationship with every one of his daughters and sons. I will never be able to hear God’s voice in nature, in other people or in the words of the Gospel if I do not know God. And I will never really come to know God unless I am willing to put in the time, patience and practice necessary for this (or any!) relationship to thrive.
—from the book Armchair Mystic: How Contemplative Prayer Can Lead You Closer to God by Mark Thibodeaux, SJ