Tips to Hearing God's Voice
One of the greatest challenges to a new believer is learning to recognize the voice of God. Many new believers struggle with the concept that God speaks to us on a personal level as they attempt to use their physical ears to hear His precious voice. Little do they know, that they have been hearing God's voice all along, otherwise, they would not have even know to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The issue is not that they do not hear, the issue is that they have not learned to recognize that God is speaking.
One of the most encouraging stories in the Bible, in regards to recognizing God's voice, comes from 1 Samuel 3. Samuel was a great prophet, a judge, and the man who God chose to anoint Israel's first 2 kings. However, in this portion of scripture, he was a boy living in the temple with Eli, the high priest at the time. One evening as he was sleeping he was awakened by a voice calling his name. He would get up and find Eli, thinking that Eli was calling him. Three times this happened, when finally Eli realized that God was trying to get little Samuel's attention. Eli then encouraged the boy to respond the next time he hears his name by saying, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening."
Up until this moment in his life, Samuel had never consciously heard the voice of the Lord. He had spent many hours serving in the temple, but until this special evening, he had not yet recognized God speaking in his life. However, just because he had not recognized God's voice, did not mean that he had never heard God's voice. And in this case, he actually heard the voice of the Father calling him three times before he actually realized who was speaking to him.
Learning to hear God's voice is not so much a process of learning to hear Him. It is actually a process of learning to recognize that beautiful voice that calls to us day and night. Once we recognize Him speaking to us, it is then a process of learning to actually listen and respond to what He has to say.
One of the reasons we often struggle to recognize God's voice is that we tend to make the whole process too complicated. For some reason, we get this idea in our heads that we have to do all kinds of things to prepare ourselves to hear Him. The right worship music playing in the background, all sins confessed and repented of, the right amount of time reading His word, etc. These are all great practices in deepening our relationship with God, but it is not necessary to hear Him. Otherwise, no one would even have a chance to be saved and enter that relationship. Jesus said it Himself in John 6:44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them." In other words, if spiritual preparation was needed to hear God's voice, then unbelievers would never be able to recognize when the Father is drawing them in.
Another reason we struggle to recognize His voice is that we tend to dictate to God how He will speak to us, as opposed to just letting Him speak in the method He wants to choose. Church, if you are waiting for His audible voice to thunder from the heavens, you may be waiting a very long time. Reading through the Bible, God rarely spoke in an audible voice, and even when he did, only certain people were able to understand it. Because God can speak through just about any medium imaginable (secular things included), I love to wake up each day and ask God to open my spiritual senses and make me aware of those moments when He is speaking to me. Remember, God spoke to Balaam through a donkey (numbers 22) and not just through the mouth of the donkey, but also through the actions of the donkey before he spoke.
God wants to speak personally to each one of His children! Many times, when we hear of a great prophet coming to town, we change all of our plans to be at one of his/her events in hopes that God will finally speak a word to us. However, what we need to understand is that God wants a personal relationship with us, not a relationship built with a "middle man" in between. When I want to talk with my wife, I do not go to a mutual friend or a family member to talk to her. Where is the intimacy in that? What I do is sit down with her and directly share my heart and then take time to listen for her response. As the bride of Christ, our relationship with Jesus, the lover of our souls, should not be any different! There is nothing wrong with inviting others to get confirmation on something, but that is where depending on others to hear God on our behalf should end.
Learning to recognize God's voice requires faith and practice in our every day lives. Sometimes, God is waiting for us to respond to what He has spoken to us before he reveals to us the next step. Much like learning to walk, requires for us to first craw and likely fall down when we first stand up, so is the journey to living a lifestyle of recognizing and responding to God's leading. Before Samuel was ready to anoint a King, he needed to learn to be a judge. Before he was ready to be a judge, he needed to learn to serve in the temple under Eli. Before we was ready to serve under Eli, he needed to learn to recognize the voice of the Father. The key was for Samuel was that first evening of recognizing God's voice and taking a step of faith to respond to the familiar, yet unfamiliar voice that was calling out to him.
As I stated above, learning to hear God's voice is not as challenging and difficult as many of us tend to think. He is actually speaking to us all the time and many times, we respond to that voice without even realizing it! Our challenge is in learning to be aware of Him speaking and recognize it! My prayer for you as your read this blog is that you will take time daily to ask Him to make you more aware of His presence and His leading in our every day life.