Living On Purpose

How Do You Learn to Hear God’s Voice?

“What does God sound like when He talks?”

“Hmmm…well, He doesn’t usually sound like you or me.” I stopped picking up toys and sat down on the bed to formulate my answer.

“Does He talk in a different language? Or does He sound like a waterfall?”

I looked at her curiously. What goes on in that little head of hers?

“God is a spirit. That means He doesn’t have a physical body like you or me. Jesus makes our spirits come alive, just like God’s, when we choose to be friends with Him. Remember how I told you about that?”

She pulled her stuffed animals up into a seated position next to her as if she were preparing an audience for a play. I caught the sigh trying to escape my lips. A simple or quick answer was not going to satisfy her.

“Yes. Jesus died for our sins so we could be friends with God.”

“Right. So our spirits become alive and then God can communicate with us spirit to spirit. Kind of like the walkie-talkies that you and the boys use. Remember how you have to put it on the right channel to hear each other?”

“He doesn’t use words then? He just moves around inside of us.”

“Sometimes He uses words, but He doesn’t have to. God can put something inside of your heart because He talks to you differently than anyone else. He can remind you that He loves you or help you want to love someone else without saying anything.”

We talked for a long time that night. It is a conversation I will always treasure. Kids accept things a lot easier than adults. They are still learning about the world so it isn’t too difficult to stretch beyond the box of what they already know. Pretty much everything is outside of the box for them.

As we grow up, we tend to struggle with things that don’t fit into the box of what we can explore with our five senses. You want me to talk to an invisible person who is going to communicate back to me through my spirit? Say again?

I get the hang up. Which is why I like to start off talking about this with the admission that learning to pray and hear God’s voice is awkward. It doesn’t fit in with how we interact in any of our other relationships. Admitting to the elephant in the room actually helps us develop a relationship where we learn to hear God’s voice because we stop expecting it to be like every other conversation in our lives.

A wise person once told me, “God is always speaking. It is you that needs to learn how to listen and hear Him.” With that in mind, I want to give you a few things to help you hear God’s voice:

  1. Develop Trust in Your Relationship

Trust has to be earned. That’s what we learn at a young age and repeat to ourselves throughout the years. But that is only partially true. Trust can’t be earned without an initial investment. It’s like expecting the money you didn’t put in your bank account to earn you interest. First you have to put something in and then you watch to see if it produces a return.

All too often we put our trust in WHAT we want God to do instead of WHO He is. When things don’t happen the way we want, we recoil in distrust.

Listen, God never promised to do everything you want Him to. What He promised is to always be faithful to you, to fight for you, to turn what the enemy meant for your evil into good.

Ok, so trust is important. But what does it have to do with me hearing God?

“The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him.” Psalm 25:14

Not “fear” as in being afraid of Him. But “fear” as in respect, awe, deep reverence for. The kind of heart investment you only give to those you trust.

God shares His secrets to those who trust Him. It makes sense when we stop and think about it. The relationship goes both ways. I trust Him. He trusts me.

What if I struggle to trust God?

Start somewhere. You don’t have to begin with, “God, if you want to send me to China, I’ll go.”

“Taste and see that the Lord is good!” Psalm 34:8

A taste is a sample not a commitment to eat the whole cow. God invites you to test Him. So start with, “God, I’m going to believe that You have something good in store for me today. And even when I don’t feel it or see it, I am going to keep believing and looking for it.”

2. Turn Down the Noise

Ever been somewhere where the music is so loud you can’t hear the person next to you. In fact, you can’t even hear yourself think.

When we are hurting or searching, we tend to drown out the pain with everything else. The distractions get turned up so we don’t have to think about things too much. We crowd the schedule, grab the remote, flip on the music…anything to avoid the silence.

1 Kings 19 tells the story of a prophet who was searching for God. A strong wind blew, an earthquake occurred, even a fire erupted. None of them carried the voice of God. Finally the sound of a gentle whisper ushered in what the prophet was waiting for.

If you want to hear God’s voice, you need to embrace the quiet. Get alone with Him. Remove the distractions and listen for the gentle whisper.

3. Learn What He Would Say

One day I overheard one of my kids trying to persuade their brother to do something. When all tactics failed, they pulled out the “Mom said you have to” card. The older and wiser sibling looked at them cock-eyed.

“Really? That doesn’t sound like something Mom would say.”

The guilty party conceded. It wasn’t something mom would say and they both knew it. I walked away feeling a little too satisfied with my parenting skills (never mind that one of my children had just tried to use me to manipulate their sibling.)

Here’s the thing… sometimes people think they have heard from God and they didn’t. Maybe it was something they hoped He would say or really needed Him to say but it still wasn’t Him. Which is why you have to learn how to recognize what God would or wouldn’t say.

How does one go about that kind of thing? It sounds difficult.

It’s as simple and complicated as building a friendship.

God’s voice is recorded inside of Scripture. As we read and study, we learn Him. Not that we will ever fully understand, but we grow in our ability to identify His voice out of the crowd.

John 10:27 says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

The more you know the way God works, the better you will be able to recognize His voice. Remember, God wants you to hear Him and understand what He is saying even more than you do. Be encouraged and press into your relationship with God. He has something to tell you!