God has made it clear that He wants to speak to His people. In the Old Testament He spoke through prophets. In the New Testament He spoke through Jesus. When Jesus left this earth He left us with His Holy Spirit, who speaks to us today. So the question is, if God wants to speak to me, and I want to hear from Him, what is keeping me from hearing His voice?
We don’t take the time to listen.
Do you ever find yourself walking away from a conversation wondering what the conversation was actually about? Have there been times when you have zoned out completely when someone is talking to you? In an age where we have access to all the information in the world, where there is so much to listen to, you would think we would be better at listening. Unfortunately the opposite is true. It seems as if the more noise in our life, the less we are able to listen.
We spend a lot of time talking to God and not enough time listening.
I am a very friendly person. I live with the attitude that strangers are just friends I have not met yet. Because of that, there is something about me that surprises people – I’m actually not super chatty. I ask a lot of questions and I have a lot of conversations, but if you catch me in my natural habitat I actually don’t say much. I don’t often offer details about my day. I don’t sit around and rehash everything with my husband. I love to get to know people, but left to my own devices I’m not one to sit around and chat with people for hours.
I’m different with God though. No matter how hard I try to listen to God, I always end up doing the talking. Don’t get me wrong, God loves it when we speak to Him, but the problem with that is when I do all the talking, I don’t end up listening. Not listening = not hearing from God.
How do we go from just talking to God, to listening to God?
On paper, the answer to this question feels like a no brainer – we stop talking and we start listening. Done and done. I wish it was that easy. If it was, I believe our world would be a very different place. So what do we need to do?
Set aside the time.
If you are anything like me, it will take some time for you to get to a place where you can clear your mind and really listen. Because of that, you will need to set aside extra time at first. The more you practice this the less time it will take, but at first your mind will wander. That’s okay. Talk to God about what you are thinking about, tell Him about all the things that are going through your head. Have a notebook handy so you can write down things to add to your to-do list. Remember, Satan does not want us to hear from God -he will use every distraction known to man to keep you from listening to God’s voice. Stay sitting with God until you can find a few minutes of silence in you and around you. And then next time, try for a few more.
Set aside a place.
I used to think that in order to hear from God I needed to create a quiet, peaceful space. I pictured candles, pillows and soft music playing in the background. You know what happens when I create a space like that? I fall asleep. I am very active, so the best way for me to clear my head and hear from God is to move. I go for a run, a walk, a bikeride or a hike. I don’t bring earphones, I just listen to sounds around me. My thoughts run crazy for a few minutes, but quickly my mind clears up and I am able to listen. Find and create a place that fosters an environment for reflection and listening.
Be willing to be wrong and step out in faith.
When you sense that God is speaking to you, write down what He is saying. And then ask yourself the four questions I mentioned last week. If what you are hearing passes through those filters, act on what God is saying. Step out in faith with a humble heart. Start with little things. If you feel God is telling you to reach out to a friend, do so. Small acts of obedience will build your faith, trust and anticipation of what God has for you next.
What if you develop a practice of listening to God, yet you still struggle to hear him?
Sin also keeps us from hearing God’s voice.
What is sin?
Most of us, myself included, grew up with an understanding of sin being a list of do’s and don’ts. I felt like if I did the right things and acted the right way, I would please God. My view of sin has really shifted over the last couple years. I have come to look at sin from a different angle. I have started to look at sin as not a list of do’s and don’ts but as a heart condition that keeps me from experiencing the fullness of God. So instead of running from my sins, I have started to press in. I’ve started to ask God to reveal my sins to me so that I can experience more of Him. When we go before God with a heart full of pride, jealousy or disbelief (sin) we are not going to be able to hear Him as clearly. God and sin can’t intermingle. Think of a sin as a cotton ball in your ear. If you put one cotton ball in your ear, you can still hear someone speak for the most part, but the more cotton balls you add – the harder it becomes to hear what is going on around you.
So what do we do?
I have written a whole series on this, so I am going to keep this brief. It starts with asking. Ask God to reveal your sins to you. God is repulsed by the presence of sin, so He will be quick to show you. But then it’s our turn. We need to repent and turn away from our sins. We need to confess our sins and change our ways. Less sin=more of God.
Selective hearing can also keep us from hearing God’s voice.
This goes hand and hand with sin. Many times when we seek to hear from God, we are seeking His comfort. We want Him to tell us that everything is going to be alright. We want Him to affirm our choices and decisions. We want to be reminded of His love for us. None of those are bad things. But they become problematic when that is all we are seeking from God. We often want God’s comfort, but not His conviction. If we are really listening to God’s voice, we are going to hear things that we may not want to hear. He may not give us the answer we were hoping for. He may say no, when we were hoping for a yes. He may say go, when you want to stay. But we don’t get to pick and choose what we listen to. The more selective we become in what we chose to hear, the less we will hear from God at all.
If you are reading this, there is a good chance that you desire to hear God’s voice.
The good news is that God wants to speak to us! But we have to do our part. Just like with any relationship, we have to take the time to listen – truly listen. We need to humbly go before God and ask Him to reveal our sins. And when He convicts us of our sins, we need to receive it, repent and change our ways. The more we rid ourselves of sin, the more of God we will experience and the clearer His voice will sound. We also need to remember that God is going to tell us things we don’t want to hear. He has the big picture in mind and is working in ways we do not see. Because of that, we need to listen and obey Him regardless if we like what we hear.
Because there is more,