Hearing God isn’t some special, magical technique. All it really takes is a listening heart, an obedient and humble attitude, and a knowing of who God is. Walk with me through the Word to find out how to hear God and listen well.
There are countless videos, articles, and books on hearing God’s voice, and I’m going to be one of the many. It would seem if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all, but I think I provide here a very different approach on the subject. And a Biblical one. No fluff.
So you know, I do not hear God’s voice all the time, nor do I hear it audibly. You may, or you may hear Him inwardly, speaking to your heart in His still, small voice. I am still learning what His voice “sounds” like in my own spirit, so I don’t profess to know everything. But, I believe each of us hear God in a special way, though He may have some commonality among the ways He speaks.
However it is that you hear Him (or if you haven’t or can’t) there is a way to hear Him well. In this article, we will go through how to hear God, what to do when you’re unable to hear Him, and how you may have been going about it all wrong. Let’s start with the bad news: Striving, Contriving, and Believing (everything) is clogging your spiritual ears.
3 Ways You’ve Been Doing it Wrong:
- Striving – Quit trying so hard! When I was a teenager, I remember telling my mother I felt like I was talking to a brick wall when I prayed. I didn’t understand why there wasn’t a two way conversation going on. She gave me some great advice, “Stop striving. You’re trying too hard.” She was right! We don’t have to vie for God’s attention, elbow our way in, or beg Him to talk to us. He is always there (Zephaniah 3:17), always speaking though we may not always hear (Job 33:14), singing songs of deliverance over us (Psalm 32:7), lives to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25). and Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice.” (John 10:27-28) No striving necessary.
- Contriving – We do NOT control God. We don’t control when or how He speaks or what He says. “”For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.” Trying to outsmart God or manipulate Him into speaking to you is going to land you in hot water. Your posture with God can’t be, “If I just do this, God will do that.” It doesn’t work that way. Have you seen those movies where one of the characters goes out and starts yelling at God in the middle of a field? Yeah, that’s not necessary, and it’s rude. Remember Elijah and the Prophets of Baal? (1 Kings 18) The “prophets” were yelling and screaming and cutting themselves to get their god’s attention. What did Elijah do? Did he yell at God, scream, do crazy things? NO! He simply said, ‘Lord, you are the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…Prove that you are the God of Israel and I am your servant…” He spoke the Word and trusted the Truth of God. We don’t have to do a thing to get God to speak or act. He already has a plan, He knows it well. Don’t try to contrive.
- Believing (everything you hear) – Test the spirits! This might ruffle some feathers, but go with me here. The Bible says to “prove all things.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) That to me includes ourselves. Don’t give yourself the benefit of the doubt. If we go off of our own thoughts and desires and will, we’re going to get it wrong. I have done this so many times. In fact, one time I thought God was in something and was telling me (through signs and various things) that He had ordained something. I was wrong, and it cost me dearly. When Betsie ten Boom came to the concentration camp, she thought she heard God’s voice. She thought He told her heart there would be no death in that camp. But, someone did die (and eventually so did she), and she said something along the lines of (I’m paraphrasing), “Lord, help me to never mistake your voice/thoughts for mine.” How often have I thought my will was His, my thoughts were His voice speaking…We must be careful to prove through the Word, through advisement of godly counsel, and through His confirming what is true and ordained of Him.
Now, let’s get into how to hear His voice. It’s a lot more simple than you think, though it can be difficult to accomplish. You’ll see why below.
5 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice:
- Rest – When I was frustrated about praying to “a brick wall,” my mom told me I needed to rest. “Just rest in Him, Jen,” she said. “Doesn’t God say, ‘Be still and know that I am God’?” Yep. Momma was right. If we look at the Word, Jesus rested. And when Jesus rested, He knew what to do, where to go, how to move. If He, being sinless, saw fit to rest with God, how much more should we? Rest.
- Be Quiet – In your relationships, do they fare well when you talk all the time? Or is there a listening that takes place to build on that relationship? God desires relationship. He wants to have place to talk to us. So, you know, be quiet sometimes. Be quiet more than you talk if you can. “Be quick to listen, slow to speak…” (James 1:19) Set aside quiet time before the Lord where you simply listen.
- Study the Word – You want to hear God? Read your Bible. “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Word of God is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). It is God’s voice, transcribed from what He spoke to the hearts of men. When you read the Bible, you are better able to “hear” His voice because you know His character. The Bible says, the Spirit reminds us of Jesus and what He said and did. How can He remind us of what we haven’t already “heard” (or read)? Read it. Study it. Memorize it.
- Be Obedient – “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” Jesus said. (John 14:6). If you know the Way, you follow it (Him). As you walk His Way, hearing His voice becomes easier, because you recognize it more the more you obey. You are training yourself in Him, teaching yourself His Way, His Truth, His Life. Over time, this becomes like second nature (or, rather…first nature), and hearing His voice means simply following His lead and doing the righteous thing. Then you learn, “the steps of the righteous are ordered of the Lord,” (Psalm 37:23). Sometimes hearing isn’t hearing because really it becomes knowing; knowing the [Good] Shepherd.
- Ask – Sometimes it’s just that simple. Jesus said, “Until now, you haven’t asked anything in My Name. Ask and you shall receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:24) He also said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you: For everyone that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8) So, just ask. Ask God to speak to you, to teach you to know His voice, and to help you follow it. Remember, James says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask it of the Lord who gives generously and without reproach and it will be given to you.” (1v5) Have faith! He is faithful. He’s speaking and wants you to hear Him more than you do.
What to Do When You’re “Clouded” or unable to hear:
- Repent – Sometimes, when we feel far from God, it can be our sin that separates us from fellowship with Him. No it doesn’t take His love from us, but it can create a chasm of sorts. Be in a constant state of repentance. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your sin, to convict you of it, and to help you repent and turn from it. Again, don’t give yourself the benefit of the doubt. When in doubt, repent!
- Praise – Discouragement and disbelief can come into play when you’re not hearing from God. Take time to praise and worship Him. Not because that will make Him speak to you, but because praise puts you in the proper frame of mind – He is God, you are not. Gratitude helps your heart remember what He’s done, and ultimately what He’s said.
- Read the Word Out Loud – “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17) If you really want to hear Him, REALLY hear Him! My Pastor would say, “If you have an Audio Bible…” to get a few laughs, but he’s right. Faith does come by hearing. So get in as much Word as you can. It’ll help clear your mind and your heart to hear Him better.
That’s it! Wasn’t that fun? It’s not a super mystery, so I’m a little peeved why there are so many people profiting off teaching people how to listen. I realize this was a long post, but I thought it necessary to dispel the silliness and fluff and “technique’. How you sit in your prayer room or walk or hold your hands or whatever it may be makes ZERO difference. Just listen.
Normally, I wouldn’t blog something like this, but sometimes we need to be taught the fundamentals. Let’s get back to the basics, y’all. Happy listening. <><