One of the greatest benefits of our salvation has to be that of hearing God speak to us personally. There can be no intimate relationship with our heavenly Father without it. But, as easy as it is for us to speak to Him, the average Christian has a hard time hearing His voice. This is not the way the Lord intended it to be.Andrew Wommack
When we read the Bible or spend time in prayer, we sometimes wish God would speak to us directly as He did with Abraham, Moses, and even Apostle Paul. But, like Andrew Wommack’s quote, we often have a hard time hearing His voice.
Our immediate question is, what prevents us from hearing God? We turn the focus on ourselves and wonder, what’s wrong? There must be something preventing me!
Most would answer it’s our sin, fear, doubt, pride, etc. This could be true for some of us, depending on where we’re at in life. But I want to explore this question with a perspective that has revolutionized my approach to hearing God’s voice.
In John 10:27, Jesus said to us, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” One of the biggest lies we’re told (as Christians) is that something is still wrong with us after salvation. If this were true, then why did Christ die for us?
We must affirm ourselves of the truth that we can hear His voice. Like with any relationship, communication is key, but not only that, learning to communicate with one another is an even more essential key.
Our relationships vary. The way we communicate with our spouses differs from our communication with parents, siblings, or other relationships. How we communicate with one another is unique within that relationship.
So it must be with God.
We must learn to communicate with God. This includes speaking, or praying, to Him, as well as listening. Like with our close earthly relationships, we can familiarize ourselves with His voice, the voice of Truth, so that we may know it is Him speaking and what He is saying to us personally.
What Prevents Us From Hearing God?
The real question is, what makes us think there is something preventing us from hearing Him?
God doesn’t play guessing games. He’s not a God of confusion or trickery. He doesn’t mock or put us down. And He definitely does nothing to make it difficult for us to hear His voice.
There will be times where we feel like there’s something preventing us from hearing His voice, but that’s all it is, a feeling according to the flesh. We are called to live according to the Spirit, where we set our minds on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5-6) and things that are above (Colossians 3:2). God’s word instructs us to take every thought captive and get transformed by the renewal of our minds (2 Corinthians 10:5; Romans 12:2).
When we believe we can’t hear God’s voice, we must remind ourselves of the truth that we can. Are we His sheep?
We can flip the script and ask a new question, from a place of abundant life in Christ (John 10:10) and the assurance of our salvation: what can help us recognize God’s voice?
What Helps Us Recognize God’s Voice
There are four components that help us recognize God’s voice instead of fixating on what prevents us from hearing Him. By flipping the script and asking this new question, we switch our mind from a lack to confidence in our identity in Him.
Matthew 7:8 says, for everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. God is not in the business of hiding His will from those who seek Him and His kingdom. His sheep know His voice and they follow Him (John 10:4).
Be encouraged by the fact that you’re not the only one who finds hearing God’s voice a difficult endeavor. It seems complex, but only because it’s a divine relationship where we also need to learn how to communicate. We must do our part to grow in our relationship with God and let Him do His.
The following four ways help us recognize His voice:
1. The Bible
My sheep hear my voice,John 10:27
and I know them,
and they follow me.
The Bible is God’s primary way of speaking to us. When we can’t hear His voice, we can confidently go to the Bible to hear Him through scripture. Obviously, it will not be a booming audible voice (unless you’re listening to a recording on the Bible app loudly). But we can read and study the Bible, God’s word, to learn about Him and what His voice sounds like. When we read the Bible, we familiarize ourselves with His voice and learn the laws of our new nature in Him.
2. The Holy Spirit
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,Isaiah 30:21
“This is the way, walk in it,”
when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
As we read, as we pray, as we do anything throughout our day, we can trust in and rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us into truth (John 16:13). This is where our faith, trust, and hope come in. We must affirm ourselves of the truth that we can hear His voice. We can believe this truth (have faith), trust Him to lead us, and have continued hope that He sent the Holy Spirit to us for this reason.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit will speak through an inaudible voice, which most often feels like a sense or sounds like our own thoughts. There are other times when He leads you to notice or recognize things through daily items, activities, or events. But the best way to recognize His voice and leading is by knowing what His word says.
God’s ears are open to our prayers. Just because we don’t always hear His voice directly doesn’t mean we cease praying and communicating with Him. In our prayers, though, we must remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 6 and pray in secret, not heaping up empty phrases and thinking we’ll get heard for our many words. God looks at the heart, not our many words. Sometimes, our silent prayers can move God, and His presence becomes the voice we’ve been actively seeking to hear.
And finally, a community of believers helps us recognize the voice of God. We can’t fully rely on every person in our communities. That would be foolish. But considering fellowshiping with one another, as we are called to do, we can help each other recognize the voice of God through encouragement, teaching, admonishing one another in wisdom, and sharing the joy of salvation we all have.
Being in community should help us grow deeper in love with Jesus. Often, this isn’t the case. Many Christians have hurt many people, causing them to turn away from God altogether. My hope with this point is that those who hurt others may get humbled and repent, and those who got hurt may find it in their hearts to forgive, and also find a safe and trustworthy group who will fulfill the true call of fellowship with believers in Christ.
During the times we think God isn’t doing anything, He is doing the work most important to Him: developing our character and transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ.David Guzik, Enduring Word Commentary
It’s important to be in the word of God, relying on the Holy Spirit, and prayer and community, so that we can grow stronger in our faith and recognize His voice.
Instead of asking what prevents us from hearing God, let’s ask how we can recognize His voice!
Let’s position ourselves to be found listening at all times for the voice we will grow to know better and better.