Why can’t I hear God talk? Other people say they hear from him.
A. If you are a Christian then the Bible proclaims that you absolutely do hear God’s voice: John 10:27 says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” The only condition on that promise is that you are one of God’s sheep -- with the analogy of Jesus being the Good Shepherd and we, the people of his pasture. Psalm 95:7. It’s a promise and a solid truth ... not a maybe. We hear him. Jesus is God, therefore, we hear from God if we belong to Jesus. Every person who has accepted Christ as their Savior has a built-in satellite dish to catch the voice of God.
The inability to hear him when he speaks is never on God’s end. The issue is that our world is packed full of other voices and distractions. We live in a noisy place while the Holy Spirit speaks in a quiet voice according to first Kings, chapter nineteen. It is often hard to hear him. In addition, our minds have the capacity to hear one of three voices at any given time: our own voice, God’s voice or the Devil’s voice -- so it gets crowded in there. As we seek the Lord, grow in him and as ask for discernment, we then begin to know which voice is talking and when. For instance: I already know, after years of trial and error, that when I’m emotional about a subject, or even a person, I cannot hear God’s voice in my usual way. This is because my own voice, rooted in my personality, my will and my emotions, is too loud. I’m yelling in my head or too stirred up about something to hear when God speaks. Our free will, gladly imbedded in every human being by the Lord himself, takes a lifetime to master in terms of yielding to him. When we’re insisting on a certain train of thought -- when my free-will is being executed -- not even God can break in. He won’t violate my will. He’ll wait until I give my will over to him. Only then, in my full surrender, will I be able to hear what he is speaking.
The Devil also has the ability to plant thoughts and to speak into our minds. All of us have bad thoughts occasionally -- sometimes we’re thinking things we can’t even believe we’re pondering. This is our sin nature partnering with the Devil’s agenda. “Another piece of cake would taste so good,” it says. “She doesn’t really like you,” quips that same voice. Or invasive visuals or fantasies that seem to blow through our minds at whim. God is asking us to shut the door on those, have another thought or change the channel, so to speak. We don’t have to allow the Devil in our head any longer than he already jumps in there. We can banish him through a variety of ways. I like to read scripture out loud, which works every time toward that front. God also provides a tool to help with this very thing: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise ... dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8. Dwell means “think.” Choose to change the subject in your own head. Think about things that are lovely, excellent, pure etc. Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit for a reason: God knew we would need his help, even in our thought life.
The Lord likes to speak to us directly, in our minds, but he also speaks to us through other people and events. Have you ever sat through a church service feeling like the Pastor was preaching right to you? It was the Lord who anointed that word from his servant and opened your ears to hear it. God was speaking to you. Have you ever had a series of unnatural coincidences that seemed to address the very thing you were praying about? God was orchestrating events so you could receive an answer to your prayer in a unique way.
The most important thing I want you to understand is that hearing God’s voice takes practice and training. Just because we have a spiritual satellite dish doesn’t mean it’s tuned to God’s frequency. We must allow God to adjust our antenna in the right direction in order to receive. The 1988 classic “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard J. Foster is the book that changed my life in this department. I began hearing from our Lord regularly and clearly after I soaked up that book; taking my time to study it and put it in action. I highly recommend it.
Adrienne Greene pastors the Rockdale United Methodist Church near Harrison, OH. Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Please send your inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030.
Ask Pastor Adrienne: Why can’t I hear God talk?