Hearing God’s Voice In a world of darkness, such as the one we live in today, where we hear so many different and divergent voices, opinions out of context, even lies that seem to be absolute truths, it is essential for every believer, leader, and minister to learn to listen to the voice of God.
Many times, it seems that no matter how much we pray, praise, and fast, God does not listen to us, that we talk to Him and we do not perceive any answer to our prayers. Many today still have their doubts when it comes to this subject, even those who deny that God listens to us or consider it a thing of the past or of the Bible only.
Today we are going to expose a question that has been asked by many people throughout the ages: How to listen to the voice of God.
The Word of God teaches us that God has spoken for a long time and will continue to speak. He is not a mute God, but desires to communicate constantly with His people, as it says in Hebrews 1:1-2 “God, having spoken many times and in many ways in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the universe“.
Throughout history, God revealed His Word to wise and worthy men, so that they could manifest it to Israel and the rest of the nations. In Genesis, we see that God spoke to Abraham face to face, without intermediaries. Abraham knew how to listen to God’s voice: “And Abram went his way, as the LORD had said to him” (Genesis 12:4).
Moses and Samuel knew how to hear the voice of God. The case of Samuel is unique, for although he did not know who was calling him, he could hear him, until Eli instructed him: “The Lord called Samuel; and he answered, Here am I” (2 Samuel 3:1-10).
God desires to reveal his plans and purposes for our lives, communication is an intrinsic and natural part of his being. God’s tendency, according to the Bible, is to speak to his creation “If you hear his voice today, harden not your hearts, as in the day of provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness” (Hebrews 3:7-8).
This seems like a silly question, but the intentions of the heart are extremely important in everything we do. “I am the LORD, searching the mind, testing the heart, to give to every man according to his way” (Jeremiah 17:10). If we are determined to listen to His voice, then we will be able to find Him.
Many times, our spiritual ears are blocked, either because we listen more to the voices of the world, or because of some sin or offense that does not allow us to move forward. Therefore, we do not know or we lose the ability to hear the Lord when He speaks to us.
For the Christian, it is fundamental to listen to the voice of God, because God is constantly giving us instructions on certain areas of our life and like a good father, He is correcting us in our daily walk. A Christian does not survive without constant communication with God; otherwise, he deviates from the path and can reach one of two extremes: a religious Pharisee or a stubborn rebel at heart. That is why it is indispensable to learn to listen to God’s voice and to obey his instructions, more than just listening to them.
To hear God’s voice, it is necessary to belong to God. Jesus says in John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me“. Those who belong to Jesus Christ and have been born again have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, and it is He who helps us to recognize God’s truth and His direction in our lives. God is spirit; therefore, all those who want to listen to Him must learn to live in the spirit. ( Acts 2: 36-38)
This means to give yourself in prayer to God and to assume with the best disposition of your heart, not only to read or presume that you have a relationship with God, but also to listen to what God has prepared or desires to communicate to you. Remember that God will never guide or direct you in a direction contrary to what He has thought or promised in His Word “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent, He said. And will He not do? He spoke, and will He not perform it?” (Numbers 23:19).
Obedience and faith play an essential role in communicating with God, for “he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). Obedience implies hearing with spiritual ears and doing what God commands us to do. At times, God asks us to do things that go against our reasoning, desires, things that are not easy to do, but if we are willing to obey, despite the circumstances and people, then we will maintain a close relationship with God and listen to his voice.
God stops speaking to many people for various reasons:
- They do not obey what God commands them (1 Samuel 15:22).
- Fear of what people will say.
- Concern for material things.
- Unforgiven offenses that build up hatred and resentment.
- Sins of the flesh that choke the Word (Matthew 13:22).
- False doctrines that corrupt the believer (1 Corinthians 15:33).
If this is your case, before questioning God and saying that He does not speak to you, first, ask yourself when was the last time God spoke to you and you simply ignored His request. If you identify this, ask God for forgiveness and rectify your mistake.
Strive to live according to God’s Word and you will see again that He will speak to you again.
In ancient times, God spoke to his people through men and women upon whom the Spirit of God came (the prophets). He spoke to them in various ways: audibly, through dreams and visions. In these times, the written word was not widely available, but only the priests and high officials had access to the previously written scrolls, while the prophecies spoken by the prophets were being compiled.
In our world today, there are many ways to hear God’s voice. God does not limit himself exclusively to his Word, for he desires to maintain communication with his people. Likewise, the Church today has more resources, which are propitiated by the Holy Spirit. “We have also a more sure word of prophecy, to which you do well to pay attention as to a torch shining in a dark place…” (2 Peter 1:19).
We will try to briefly address the most important resources through which we can hear God’s voice.
The main way God speaks to us today is through His written Word. The Bible is the first place we should turn to hear God’s voice and how it communicates “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
When we read the Bible with a heart that seeks understanding, we are actively listening for God’s voice. Most of God’s will for our lives is already revealed in the Bible. Our portion is to obey what God has told us in its pages “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Everything we think we hear from God is urging us to do something, but it contradicts the Bible; that message is not from God.
We hear His voice when we spend quality time daily in prayer, study the Bible.
The more time you spend in intimacy with God and His Word, the easier it will be for you to recognize His voice and His guidance in your life.
We must be so familiar with God’s Word, that when someone speaks a lie to us, we can be clear that it is not from God “What does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (Romans 10:8).
Another way to hear God’s voice is through prayer. This requires that we quiet our hearts so that we can listen to what He has to say and be patient enough to wait on Him. It is common to think that every time the Lord speaks, it will be a noisy or dramatic event, similar to what Israel experienced on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:16-19), but God rarely appears in expected places or in expected ways. Something similar happened with the prophet Elijah when he went out to meet God: “He said to him, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD. In addition, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and mighty wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD: but the LORD was not in the wind. Moreover, after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake. In addition, after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire. Moreover, after the fire a gentle and sweet hissing. And when Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his mantle, and went out, and stood in the door of the cave” (1 Kings 19:11-13).
Prayer is communicating with God. When we pray, we talk to God and listen to His direction. Often, God answers prayer in three ways: YES, NO & WAIT. The first thing we must do is surrender with a willing heart and teachable spirit, with the hope that God always hears us and answers our prayers “But thou, when thou prays, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret” (Matthew 6:6).
God speaks to us through His Holy Spirit. In this time of dispensation of grace, most of the time that the Holy Spirit speaks into our lives, it is because He desires to announce something of enormous importance. It may be something that has to do with our calling, that is urgent (or life and death) for us, or that may positively or negatively affect various people. It may be something that changes the course of a ministry or a vision. God always makes sure that we listen concisely to the voice of the Holy Spirit “The Spirit itself bearish witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:13).
Those who have received Jesus Christ into their hearts already have access to the Holy Spirit. It is a tender and soft voice, but at the same time with great authority. At times, it is as if someone is speaking to us with a loud, audible voice. Ask the Holy Spirit for a new infilling each day and He will prepare your heart to hear the voice of God. That subtle voice within you, the One who reminds you of what God has said and helps you recognize God’s opportunities in your life “Who among men knows the things of a man except for the spirit of man which is in him? Even so no man knew the things of God, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2.11).
God can also speak through other people. This can happen in the form of a conversation with a friend or counselor (Proverbs 27:17), the message of a minister or church leader (Romans 10:17), or a message of wisdom and exhortation from a friend (Proverbs 15:22).
Hearing God’s voice from others can sometimes help us interpret the Bible, including seeing things we were previously blind to, such as hidden areas of our own pride or self-centered motivations (Proverbs 12:15).
On many occasions, it happens that God speaks to us when we are surfing the Internet and suddenly, a post appears on social networks with a message from God related to that area of your life that is affecting you, or a video of a preacher directed especially for you. Many dismiss it as mere chance, luck, the universe or fate conspiring in their favor. However, in truth, God calls you and manifests his love by speaking to you in these unusual but valid ways “When Israel was a boy, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the more they turned away from me…” (Hosea 11:1-2).
God is not limited to His Word or to a single way of speaking to humanity. God is Almighty and Sovereign: He can speak the way He wants “All the inhabitants of the earth are as nothing; and He does according to His will in the army of heaven, and in the inhabitants of the earth, and there is none to stay His hand, and to say unto Him, What does Thou?” (Daniel 4:35).
He can even speak to the wicked as part of His purpose and His Sovereign and Unbreakable Will. This is observed when God spoke to Abimelech king of Gerar (Genesis 20:3-7) for taking Sarah Abraham’s wife as his wife; when the angel of God spoke to Balam (Numbers 22:31-35) when he was on his way to curse Israel by order of Balak son of Zippor.
In addition, more recently, in the New Testament, when Jesus Christ spoke to Saul the persecutor (Acts 9:3-7), who, after this episode, became Paul the Apostle, to whom, by the disposition of the Holy Spirit, he wrote most of the New Testament (epistles from Romans to Philemon).
God has used dreams and visions at different times in history and still uses them today to manifest certain revelations to His people. They can be considered a method by which God speaks (Genesis 37:5). Dreams are constructed strictly in the natural mind or they can be given as images of God, of the Holy Spirit, and be received within the mind of man (Genesis 37:5).
Unlike dreams, visions allow us to glimpse abstract or invisible entities. When God allows us to see the spiritual world, we receive a revelation (vision) from God. As if, we were seeing live images (Ezekiel 1 and 2).
Dreams and visions are an evidence and a conviction that the Holy Spirit is operating. Besides being a sign of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the time of dispensation of grace “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:16-17).
While it is true that, unlike Joshua, Samuel or Gideon, we have the Bible readily available, almost every day we are faced with big and small decisions that seem not to be explicitly contained in the Bible: where to live, where to work, among other daily questions.
1 John 4:1 tells us: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are of God“. Our modern world is full of noise, distractions, and misguidance to distract us from God’s will. We must not blindly trust our thoughts, feelings, but discern what is of God “as many of us as are perfect, let us feel this very thing; and if you feel otherwise, God will reveal this also to you” (Philippians 3:15). To do so, we can ask ourselves a series of questions that can help us to discern:
- Is what we are hearing confusing or vague? Remember, “God is not a God of confusion, but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33).
- Does it go against Scripture? Because God does not contradict Himself.
- Does it lead to holiness or sin? Because “Walk in the Spirit and do not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
It is important to seek discernment in order to follow God’s commandments and to distinguish His voice from your thoughts or the voice of the enemy “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). God wants to help you make good decisions that honor Him. The better we know our Good Shepherd, the better we can discern His voice. Learn to listen for His direction. Pray for wisdom. Study the Bible. Seek confirmation from your church leaders or ministers. Believe in God and do not doubt Him.
God continues to speak to His people today in many ways, some of them familiar to Christians and others much more unusual. Every parent desires to maintain good communication with their child, so God proceeds in the same way with His Church, and even speaks to the wicked to call them to His purpose according to His Will.
For the Christian it is important to know how to listen to the voice of God, because we depend on God and his constant communication encourages us, strengthens us, and revives us. Knowing how to listen to the voice of God should be more than an obligation of every Christian. It should be done with submission, humility, with a willing will and a meek and teachable spirit, which allows itself to be fed by God; every day, beyond being a lifestyle, and be based on a life of fasting, prayer, biblical meditation and adoration of God at all times.
“Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).