Last time we talked about some important characteristics of God’s voice, that will help you distinguish when it’s Him who is speaking to you. But what if you aren’t hearing Him? What can you do to actually hear God’s voice more clearly?
The witness of Scripture, and of the thousands of believers who have followed Jesus over the past 2000+ years, is that God speaks. And as Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice.” (John 10:27) That’s part of following Him.
And you can experience that too. Here are some very practical ways that will help you hear God’s voice more clearly.
God loves to speak! He invites you to say whatever you want to say to Him. Ask the Why questions. Ask Him to change your circumstances – your relationships, your marriage, your health, your finances, your job, whatever.
But most of the time God doesn’t magically change your circumstances. As John Maxwell says, “You don’t want a miracle; you want magic.” And God’s not into magic. Usually the road forward means you and I need to cooperate with God in order to see a breakthrough.
“God, help me!” is always OK. But when things seem muddy or frustrating, there are also more helpful questions to ask. One of the most important I’ve discovered is, Jesus, what’s going on here? It could be any number of things; living in a broken world, your need to forgive, spiritual warfare, a matter of maturity, etc. Hearing Jesus’ answer makes all the difference. And that requires the following steps.
Lay Emotions Aside
It’s human and healthy to have emotions. Jesus did when He was here. There’s nothing ungodly about feeling frustrated, upset, angry, hurt, or anxious. The important thing is what you do with those emotions. Letting feelings rule your mind will cloud your ability to hear the voice of God.
When you are struggling to hear God’s voice about something important, a challenge you’re wrestling with, or a big decision, acknowledge your emotions fully before God. You may need to let your emotions flow out in His presence. He welcomes that! Cry, scream, beg – whatever you need to do. His shoulders are big enough to handle it.
But that in itself does not help you hear Him. Let the emotions role out; most of the time they will role out as a wave, and then subside. And then intentionally lay your emotions aside as much as you humanly can. That’s the only way the fog can clear enough for you to hear His voice.
God does not add His voice to a cacophony of sound – in your head or in your world. Almost always He waits until your soul becomes quiet, and then speaks in that “still small voice.”
I’ve talked with many people who feel as though they’ve been crying out to God repeatedly and are getting no answer. Their desperate souls are restless. But it’s as if they are creating so much mental noise they cannot hear what God is already trying to say.
Once you let your emotions role out in God’s presence, don’t rush off. Get quiet. Silence and stillness is one of the most challenging of spiritual disciplines for many people, especially since our brains have been trained to be entertained and distracted. But if you want to hear God’s voice, it will be absolutely essential to learn to be quiet.
You can train yourself in stillness. Sit quietly, perhaps eyes closed. Invite Jesus to come, and then be still. Set a timer if need be; start with 2 minutes. Then 5, then 10. Pete Scazzero, developer of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, makes 20 minutes of silence part of his daily time with God.
I don’t do 20 minutes daily, but I do spend some time in silence every day with God. It’s priceless. If you want to hear God’s voice, learn to get quiet.
There’s something very clarifying about writing. Many people, including myself, have found journaling a powerful way to actually hear from God.
You may start by finding a couple verses in Psalms that resonate with whatever struggle is going on in your soul. Write them out as a prayer to God. And then write out in your own words what you would like to say to Jesus if He were sitting right beside you. Make your writing your prayer. Let your words be a window into your soul. Don’t hold anything back; no filters.
Writing in this way can lower your own mental walls. Pause as you write any time you need to. The goal is not the number of words; it’s to put your heart in a place to connect with God.
As I do that, there have been many times when Jesus seems to show up even as I’m writing. Putting words on paper clarifies my own thinking and often helps put emotions in their proper place. It facilitates being still. And not infrequently there’s a sense that God is speaking to me even in the things I write.
Do the Last Thing He Told You
God is not obligated to speak to you what you want to hear. Remember, He’s not a heavenly vending machine. He is a Divine Person, who loves you and knows everything and cares deeply. When He speaks to you, He intends to be taken seriously.
If He has spoken something to you in the past, He expects you to follow through. Just keep doing the last thing He told you, until He tells you something else. God’s not saying “Go do that, and then check back with Me.” If you’re “trying” to do what He told you and it’s not “working”, check with Him to understand more. It may be He needs to do some work in your heart along the way. And yes, absolutely keep coming back, checking in to see if there are any new instructions.
If you are not hearing from Him, prayerfully ask yourself if He has said anything to you in the past that you are not following through on. It’s likely He expects you to do that last thing before He tells you something else. This is not a matter to get anxious about; just check in to be sure you’re doing what He has told you.
Hearing God’s Voice
These steps are not exhaustive, but they are important. As Jesus did when He was here on earth, you can develop the kind of relationship with God that is real, growing, meaningful, and resilient.
If you’ve never learned to put emotions aside and get quiet in God’s presence to hear His voice, I invite you to do so. He wants to speak to you!
Hearing God’s voice is so important if you want to experience a breakthrough. Our Powerful Breakthrough Prayers online course will show you what cooperating with God looks like, and help you take the practical steps that will bring you your breakthrough whatever challenge you are facing.
Your Turn: Have you learned practical ways to hear God’s voice? Are any of these elements helpful? Any others that you’ve incorporated into your time with God? Leave a comment below.
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