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.