What does it mean to hear God’s voice?

It’s Monday Grace!

I remember a story of two men walking in the city. One man noticed a bird singing and commented on it. The other asked how he could possibly hear the sound of a bird over the traffic and noise of the city. The first man said that we hear what we listen for. To prove his point, he took some coins from his pocket and threw them on the sidewalk. Not only did his friend hear the sound, but several others in the area turned to it.

We hear what we listen for. Now, I want to be careful. These posts are never meant to be condemning or even particularly critical. Yet, some are so used to negative preaching that they quickly accept condemnation or put up walls against it. The fact that we hear what we listen for is meant to remind us that God is speaking and we should seek to hear His voice.

If I asked you how often you hear God’s voice, most would say that they never have. But, if I asked whether God has spoken to you, I would get a different response. My own response would be similar. Rarely have I heard the voice of God, never in the booming thunder we would expect. Yet, God has often spoken to me. Acknowledging that difference is important.

Some of us were taught an automatic answer: God speaks to me in His word. In other words, I read the Bible and I try to do what it says. It is true, of course. God does speak to us through His word. That’s why He gave it to us, as a message of His love for us. But that isn’t the only way God speaks to us, is it? It may be the only way some preachers ever teach, but they are not right. God does speak to our hearts through His Spirit in us. And we can learn to listen.

I like the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. He has been successful in his battle against evil, but he is worn and discouraged. Everyone he knows is on the side of evil. At least that’s how he felt. And some of those folks wanted to kill him. In hiding, deep in a cave, Elijah longed for a word from the Lord.

Outside the cave, the wind blew so strong that it dislodged rocks from the mountain. But there was no word for Elijah in the wind. An earthquake rumbled and shook the ground, but there was still no word. Then a fire roared past the entrance to the cave, but Elijah did not hear the voice of God. Finally, the text says, there was a “still small voice.” A whisper, easily missed unless Elijah was listening.

In that whisper, that gossamer thread of sound, God spoke to Elijah. Others might have heard the wind or the earthquake or the fire, but only Elijah heard the intimate breath of God. And God told Elijah what he needed to hear.

Let’s face it, this world is noisy. Our world demands our attention. But God is not demanding or frightened or cruel. He does not need to shout. Instead, He gently calls our attention to Himself and speaks with love.

Yes, we can hear His voice from many sources. His word does speak His will for us. So do other believers at times. And sometimes, the patient nudging of the Spirit in our hearts is enough for us to know what He wants to tell us.

No, there is not one way for all. Your relationship with the Lord is personal, even unique. Step away from the expectations and the turmoil to find a time when you can listen. Tell Him that you want to hear His will. Be prepared to do what He says. Believe that He is near, that He loves you, and that He wants to lead you. Submit yourself to Him and trust Him. Then you will find Him leading you, even if you don’t remember hearing His voice.

The key is listening.

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
Psalm 34:17-19

But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
John 10:2-4

Ask God to help you hear His voice. Then listen.

1 Comment

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One response to “What does it mean to hear God’s voice?

  1. George

    We have a plaque in our home that says “Let us be silent that we may hear the whisper of God”. I have found that spending time in solitude and silence helps me listen for God’s words of comfort as I meditate on scripture. When God answers my prayer with His presence, what more do I need.

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