In scripture, when looking at the God’s mighty prophets and anointed ministers, you’ll notice that it was rare for any of them to doubt that they were hearing God. Sure, they sometimes doubted situations, and they were met with many of the same inner struggles that we face today. But those men were confident in their ability to hear God. Compare that confidence with the uncertainty of many of today’s believers, and you’ll be forced to ask yourself this important question: why do believers today struggle to hear God?
Dear reader, I want you to know this: it’s possible to hear God with such certainty, such clarity, that there will be hardly any room for doubt. The Christian is not supposed to struggle to hear God, yet that struggle is widely accepted as normal.
Hearing God is simple, and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. His voice is unmistakable, completely unique.
In fact, the most shocking reality about God’s voice is this: He is already speaking to you.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” - John 10:27
Jesus made it clear. If you belong to God, you hear His voice. So the real question you should be asking is not, “Can I hear God?” but rather, “Am I a sheep?”.
Even Samuel, when growing and being trained as a prophet, heard God’s voice without realizing that it was God speaking (See 1 Samuel 3). Samuel heard God’s voice, but he didn’t recognize it. And that, believer, is the key: recognizing the voice. You already hear it.
So how does one come to hear God clearly, to recognize when He is speaking?
So here are three basic Biblical keys to hearing God’s voice.
#1 Silence and Stillness
There are three voices that speak to you – the flesh, the demonic and the godly. That is the secular, the Satanic and the Spiritual. The secular includes your own flesh, worldly people and worldly thinking. The Satanic includes demonic lies, actual demons and manipulative influences (example: people who control you by guilt). The Spiritual includes scripture, the voice of the Holy Spirit and counsel from godly people.
To distinguish these voices from one another, we must submit ourselves to Silence and Stillness.
“But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” - Matthew 6:6
Jesus instructed us to pray in private for two reasons. Firstly, praying in private eliminates the focus on the praises of men. Secondly, the privacy of prayer helps to cultivate an atmosphere of silence.
Silence is the putting away of outer distraction – turning the phone off, getting alone and removing distractions. Comparatively speaking, silence is the easy part.
The difficult part is stillness.
“Be still, and know that I am God!…” - Psalm 46:10
Be still… and know. Stillness precedes revelation.
If silence is the putting away of outer distraction, then stillness is the quieting of the soul.
Stillness is the silencing of inner noise – depression, fear, anxiety, worry, doubt, guilt, anger – and all forms of chaotic inner distraction. To find this stillness, one must look away from the troubles and concerns of this world and fix a gaze upon the countenance of Christ. Whatever has been revealed of Christ to you – let that be your focus, and you will find the stillness that brings about clarity.
#2 The Word
If I were to ask you to describe the voice of a friend or loved one, you might be able to lend me a few descriptions of their voice’s quality and cadence. However, despite what information I might be able to gather from your description, I would not be able to pick your friend’s voice from a crowd of speakers from your description alone. But you would be able to do so.
Because you hear them regularly, you become familiar with how they sound. And you wouldn’t just know how they sound. You would be able to find clues based upon the content of what is being spoken – the words and the ideas. Your familiarity with the sound of their voice and the content of their voice gives you a distinct advantage in identifying their voice.
So how might one become familiar with God’s voice?
This familiarity comes about through the reading of God’s Word.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” - 2 Timothy 3:16
As you read the Word, you will become more familiar with God’s voice – in quality, tone and content.
This is probably the most effective key I can give you when it comes to hearing God. Obedience to God actually causes you to become more keen on hearing His voice.
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” - Psalm 37:23
All throughout scripture, God speaks to sinners and even disobedient men. But they failed to obey God because they did not recognize God as Lord in their lives. Cain, after He slew his brother Abel, was immediately confronted by the presence and voice of God. But from God’s presence, Cain was banished. You see, God is everywhere at all times, but you must become aware of Him if you are to experience Him. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. In other words, God guides the obedient. So, simply obey the written and moral laws of God, and you will find your mind more clear. Sin blinds, but obedience clarifies. As you obey what you already know to be God, you will find yourself more able to receive personal communication from the Lord.
God offers His guidance to those who are godly, those who walk in obedience toward Him.
“The Lord directs the steps of the godly.He delights in every detail of their lives.” - Psalm 37:23
God will not tell you about step 3 if you haven’t obeyed Him in taking step 1. Sin doesn’t keep God from speaking; it keeps us from hearing.
Are you struggling to find direction at this point in your life?
Then obey what you definitely know to be the Lord for right now – whether you heard it through the Word or through the Holy Spirit directly to your heart. His next word of guidance will come after you’ve obeyed what He’s already spoken.