When I was growing up, my cousins and I made our own telephone out of two tin cans and a string. One of us planted ourselves against the wall of our house while the other person ran around the corner and attempted to talk through it. We must have done something wrong because it never really worked. Instead, we shouted at each other from either side of the house, pretending we could actually hear through the contraption we'd built.
There have been times that I've had the same feeling with God that I did when I was trying to get our tin can phones to work. After all the effort that went into it, the silence when you hold the can up to your ear is beyond frustrating. It makes you want to give up and go back to your old way of communicating. Something is obviously wrong but the idea of finding out what and fixing it feels overwhelming.
Learning to hear God's voice takes practice and more patience than most of us want to put into it. But trust me when I tell you it's worth the reward.
God isn't playing a game of Hide & Seek with you. He actually wants you to understand and walk out the plans He has for your life more than you do. Just consider how much He has already invested in order to offer you relationship, purpose, and a role in a story that's so much bigger than you.
Jeremiah 29:13 says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
When you learn to distinguish God's voice above all the clatter that our days are often filled with, everything becomes more exciting. You're not watching from the sidelines, you are actually in the game, being used by God to make a difference in the world around you.
So let me help you understand a few things that will keep you from being able to discern God's voice:
1. Too much noise
I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. Psalm 62:1
God desires intimacy with you and I'm convinced His favorite way to communicate is through a whisper. He waits until all the distractions are gone and you're focused on Him alone. Then He speaks, not like we do by fumbling around with words to articulate what we're thinking, but spirit to spirit.
2. Strong emotions
Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. Psalm 55:22
When you stub your toe you have trouble thinking about anything else but the throbbing pain in your foot. Experts tell us that the first stages of love affect the brain like a drug, clouding our ability to reason very well. On both extremes, emotions become a vacuum absorbing all our focus.
Bringing everything you experience and feel to God on a consistent basis gives Him access to your heart, helping you to hear Him more clearly through the fog of strong emotions.
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6
The biggest obstacle to hearing the voice of God is our underlying belief that we don't need to. We'd like to, but if it doesn't work out, we assume we can always go back to our old way of doing things.
Humility is the understanding of how helpless we are without Him and it drives us to do whatever it takes to gain access to the resources He's promised us.
As you examine your life to see if any of these areas are keeping you from being able to distinguish God's voice, I encourage you to lean into the avenues God tends to speak through. He's not limited to these, of course, but they are ways He often uses to communicate with His people.
1. The Bible
Words written thousands of years ago become alive as they resonate in your spirit, convict you of where you need to change, and lead you to make bold decisions in faith.
Commit to a Bible reading plan and as you spend time in the Word of God, look expectantly for verses that are speaking directly to you.
2. Christian Community
God never intended us to walk out this journey of faith on our own. He brought people alongside us to help us see things we didn't see before and encourage the gifts and calling of God for our lives. Trusted friends, family, and people in your faith community who are wholeheartedly following Jesus becomes avenues through which God often speaks to us.
3. Dreams and Desires
You were created on purpose for a purpose. God has planted things inside of your spirit that He draws out over time. The more you seek Him, the more refined your dreams and desires become, leading you into opportunities to bring honor to God, make a difference in other people's lives, and see the kingdom of God expanded.
4. Divine Opportunities
God opens doors for us that no man can open. When we're looking for these doors, it can be exciting. But when they catch us off guard, the feeling can be overwhelming. We like change best when we see it coming. It's a good practice for us to learn not to let fear dictate our reaction and bring every opportunity before God to understand if it's from Him.
The difficult things we walk through aren't typically our favorite way of hearing God speak. But He proves Himself faithful in these times, leading us one step at a time, and revealing His heart to us if we're willing to look for it. Some of our greatest growth and clearest understanding of God's voice comes out of hard seasons.
God wants to speak to you more this year than ever before. Don't let the challenge of learning to hear His voice discourage you. Romans 8:31 says, "If God is for us, who can ever be against us?"
You have more on your side than you do against you. Join us for prayer gatherings on Wednesday and Saturday nights from 6:30-7:30 pm throughout the 21 Days of Prayer and let's seek God together.