It really confuses me when people say,listen to God,what does this mean, how? God obviously won’t just talk to me like how I talk to other people, so how do I listen when there is no sound? I’ve meditated but, I can’t get what God means from silence.
Hey my dear beloved friend, you know: I’ve always had trouble with this idea of “hearing from God.” I always side-eye those super A+ put-together Christians who were hearing from God every week, and somehow I was outside the door of some secret club where God was throwing around fortune cookies full of His life-changing secrets.
I remember a pastor once telling his leaders, “I can teach you how to hear the audible spoken voice of God.” No joke. At another Bible Study, they asked us every time, “What did you hear from God this week?” And we’d go in a circle saying increasingly spiritual things that “God laid on my heart” until the last person was writing an extra chapter of Revelation. Some kid thought that God told Him to do missions on the foothills of Tijuana, or Siberia, or some other uninhabitable place, and we would cheer with cringing desperation.
I got frustrated with all this because I began to expect God to boom down from the rafters and for angels to explode from the ceiling. Of course, I believe God could do that if He wanted to. He parted a sea before and He made the sun stop. BUT — God didn’t do this every Thursday. Those were bonafide last-resort miracles, and I think asking for God to do this every week was like having a wedding everyday of your marriage. The expectations were killing us.
Eventually I spoke up to say, “Actually man, I did not hear from God today. Not for a long time. Is that okay?” And I think this shocked a few people. I think someone tried to lay hands on me to re-fill my spirit tank. A few others thought maybe I was possessed or gone prodigal or had “unconfessed sin.” But most of us felt the same way: we were in this exhausting run-around of trying to hear God’s voice all the time and feeling like crap because we didn’t. At least not in the way we were taught to hear Him.
To be truthful, I think many people who say they “hear from God” are too afraid to say anything else. We’re always appealing to the gatekeepers of faith to chest-bump our spiritual masculinity, but there’s hardly any room in church for vulnerable real talk. So a bunch of us affirm each other over “God told me” when really we just make it up on the spot to look spiritual, and it’s basically a Cold War stand-off.
So can we actually “hear” from God? Yes. I do believe He can absolutely speak, maybe even audibly, because He’s God. There are times in life where we’re so close to His presence that we could certainly hear Him. But on a regular basis: Scripture informs us, His Spirit speaks in groans we cannot verbally understand, and God sends people and pastors and leaders to convict us too.
It’s possible many of us will NOT hear audible roof-shaking commands or get wild vivid visions. If God were to really show up and start telling us stuff, then 1) we wouldn’t need faith and it would all be too easy, 2) we might not believe it anyway, and 3) we would probably pass out.
Please don’t be too hard on yourself to hear back from God every time you pray. I don’t think it works this way. Certainly we’re called to listen to Him, but even silence has significance when you can finally pause from all the voices pushing in on your head. Maybe God simply wants for you to be still with yourself to rest, to reflect, to examine (Psalm 139:23-24). The important thing is to never give up speaking with Him. To even draw near Him and say, “God, I feel so far.”
Let’s consider that God does speak to us every week. Let’s consider photosynthesis, the spinning of atoms, the burning of stars, the breath we just breathed, your child’s messy drawing, the twitching of your neurons to fire off emotions, a hug from your best friend. Let’s consider the sustaining of our molecules, which is purely by His grace. Let’s see all we are missing when our eyes are locked on a screen when the world is unrolling around us, as God makes His glory known through nature and coincidence. Let’s consider Christ, who is God’s spoken word and His very own glorious radiance (Hebrews 1:2-3). Let’s consider that God is already within the silence, and that even when we do not “feel” Him, God is okay with this too.
13 thoughts on “How Do I Even Hear The Voice of God?”
“To be truthful, I think many people who say they “hear from God” are too afraid to say anything else.”
I don’t know, in my experience a lot of the time someone said they “heard from God” they were just trying to justify bad behavior.
“We’re always appealing to the gatekeepers of faith to chest-bump our spiritual masculinity, but there’s hardly any room in church for vulnerable real talk. So a bunch of us affirm each other over “God told me” when really we just make it up on the spot to look spiritual, and it’s basically a Cold War stand-off.”
I sat under a pastor for 4 years who seriously EVERY SUNDAY would say he had gotten a word from God that week. What was really annoying was that the message never changed. I guess God is a broken record …? Even his jokes were worn out.
It occurred to me at one point that even Abraham only heard from God about once every 15 years (assuming he was actually hearing anything rather than doing what most of us do – attribute our own thoughts to God Himself).
But, if Jesus meant what he said “Didn’t David say ‘you are gods'” (my sketchily remembered paraphrase, which you are free to correct), then maybe the voice in our heads half the time IS God’s? If I am a piece of Him, filled with the Holy Spirit, then how about when I have a thought that lines up with the character/will of God as revealed in Scripture, then I’m ‘hearing God’?
That said, my skepticism at this point in my life is boundless. In fact, if you want to be CERTAIN that I’m going to ignore what you say, just preface it with “God told me”. From that moment on I will trust absolutely nothing that comes out of your mouth. 😉
Always love your posts, J.S.,
P.S. I meant to comment on another part of what I quoted above:
“We’re always appealing to the gatekeepers of faith to chest-bump our spiritual masculinity, but there’s hardly any room in church for vulnerable real talk.”
Christian vulnerability is an oxy-moron. And I find there is a real danger when anyone engages in ‘real talk’ in the church. As I like to say, no one bites like a sheep!
Haah. Despite all the incisive things I said, I do want to add that 1) hearing from God is still a very legit thing, but probably needs to be a expanded, and 2) I still think the church as a gathering can help each other hear from Him. Certainly there’s a balanced way to handle prayer that doesn’t run to either extremes of cessation or spirit-led chaos.
Unfortunately for the human race, we LOVE extremes! lol
Seriously, though, the REAL key to what you just said was “the church as a gathering” – the biggest problem I’ve seen with ‘hearing from God’ is normally only the clergy do that (or consider it legitimate when they do). And now you’ve hit on my real issue with church in general – one voice is a sure mark of a cult! When only the leaders hear from and speak for God, that’s when there’s a true problem, yet that’s the only model going these days.
Great post – what a delightful oasis in the wasteland. Thank you.
I applaud your attempt to change the question from , “Can I hear God speak”, to “Do I notice how active God is in the world”. When we focus on only one way to communicate (a Voice…) we miss dreams, flowers, birds, children, Bible, music, art, even blogs by JS Park ( 🙂 ), and the list goes on. It is not that God is silent; it is that we tell God we won’t listen unless it is done the way we want! God stays in touch even when we lose touch.
Yes, my only hope is to expand how we hear Him instead of narrowing it down to “audible booming voice from the heavens.” Psalm 19 is a clear reminder that everything can declare God.
J. S. I love the humility and sensitivity of this post. I have discovered that is frequently the theme of your blog and writings. Is the main reason that I follow you. I hope you see the same characteristics in this response.
I had never heard the voice of God audibly. I used to chase the idea of hearing God and seeing God. I have learned to hear God with my heart. I frequently talk about how I have heard the voice of God but it is never been an audible voice, it is always been thoughts flowing through my brain. I have learned to distinguish the thoughts of God from my own thoughts because of the emotional characteristics they carry.
Some have asked me, “how do you know it’s not just you making this up?”
I have much proof that I am hearing the voice of God with my heart and that I’m correctly discerning. Prove such as Him taking me to multiple scriptures that are identical in content. Once he told me to look up 15 different scriptures within 20 minutes and all of them spoke about the Holy Spirit. Another time He’s gave me scriptures that were direct quotes of each other.
But the biggest proof I have that I’m hearing God is how much my life has changed. I’ve gone from being a selfish, self-seeking, angry person, to a person that finds it easy to display love, even in harsh environments. Many my closest loved ones have noticed that the dramatic changes in my character and nature. Even my co-workers frequently comment on the attitude I aways seem to have.
The vast majority of the time that I hear God speak, He speaks identity and value into my life. He usually begins by expressing His love for me, and His value for me. I frequently find myself completely undone by His overwhelming embrace.
For many months now He has been giving the same thoughts over and over and over again. Whether by conversations with Him or when I just ask Him to speak whatever He desires to say, or when I’m in worship. He keeps saying over and over again these two phrases, “I Am yours,” “you are Mine.”
Often times they are surrounded by explanations and answers to current situations. Sometimes they are the resolution to fears and insecurities that I’m currently having. But the thing I’m discovering, is that He is trying to show me that we are one.
So, yes I believe that I hear God. And yes I do teach others to hear God. But it is believing that God will speak directly into my mind and my heart, that I don’t need Him to shout from heaven. The thing that I have discovered is the biggest key or hindrance to hearing God’s voice through your spirit, is whether we believe that God loves us enough to answer our questions and speak to us directly. Jesus said, “if we ask Him for bread, will our Father give us a stone?” I believe that if I ask God to speak, He will speak because He loves me enough to speak. I just need to have faith to believe His love.
Hope you don’t think I’m a bad person or a fake but I’m going to confess. I do hear from God, never audibly.
But I have heard God speak to me through scripture, through other Christians, through a newspaper report. Sometimes I hear nothing, He doesn’t speak to me but I see his creation and that encourages me to worship him.
Sometimes there is silence. I think God does what he wants. There are times he speak and times when he doesn’t. I have learnt to try and be content in either situation.
I don’t think I am deluding myself. Sometimes I know that what i have thought might be God is my own vain imagination. But other times, I know that I know that I know that I heard him.
Each person has their own experience.
Hey my friend, that’s totally awesome. I would never dismiss God actually speaking into anyone’s life. In fact: I think you hit the very point of this post, that we hear from God in so many different ways, and an “audible voice” could really be limiting Him. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Praying and “hearing” from God is what I struggle with the most. The only voice I ever ‘hear’ in my head is my own. I have become a more active Christian in the last few years joining a church , reading scripture daily, engaging in a weekly Bible study group and trying to pray daily. I get something out of all these activities except prayer. Prayer to me is like talking to a wall. I have never felt anything but frustration as nothing happens. I don’t feel like I have ever heard from God in any way – audibly, inaudibly,a feeling,a nudge,nothing. My God is a distance God that never comes near to me. I want the intimacy and joy that the other people in my church and Bible study group describe. What do I do? I appreciate your blog. I can relate to a lot of what you write. THANKS
From my experience, those that struggle with God being far away, often are believing lies about God that life has taught them. Many people put up walls to keep from being hurt. Often those wall of defense end up applying to God. Maybe you can begin asking God to reveal if there are any hidden lies, fears, or judgments within your heart. You don’t have to hear Him in you head. God has many ways of speaking. If you are able to remove barriers in your relationship, you will find that God will come very close and you will also find that hearing Him gets easier.
I do hear the voice of God everyday all the time! In my personal experience, it’s an ongoing dialogue between me and God! He’s my Creator and my best friend! It’s a deep and personal relationship. Not to say that you are not exactly where you need to be in your walk with God! We should never compare ourselves, but just because someone has a different experience than you doesn’t mean you should judge them and generalize by saying that God doesn’t speak! In my experience, He speaks. And very clearly. It’s always the enemy who sneaks doubt and fear into my mind to distract me from doing the will of the Father! Bless you and your journey, beloved!