The most important and often the most confusing aspect of this journey. God Speaks. Often, and in clever ways. God speaks.
Then why can’t I hear? This is the wrestle, the rub, the difficulty. If God is so talkative…why am I having such a hard time hearing?
We have a difficult time with hearing for several reasons.
1. Expectations: Because we hear people speak all the time, and because people use such “familiar” terminology about God speaking. We all have an assumption about how we should hear His voice.
We also have an expectation about what He will say.
The Bible (1 Corinthinans 2) tells us that spiritual things are spiritually discerned. This simply means that God’s communication is Spirit to spirit. How we hear Him, begins with our spirit. Not our intellect, not our emotions, but our spirit. Hence, if we are overly familiar with our intellect, and underly familiar with our spirit, it will initially be difficult. Here are some helpful thoughts.
Listen to room noises. The act of listening is different than the act of thinking. When we listen we incline, or turn our attention to something else. When we think, we generate thoughts and ideas and the attention is on ourselves. As you listen for room noises, now turn and listen for God. Stillness is helpful. Focus can be helpful if we are focused on hearing and not focused on our fears about not hearing.
Did I mention, be still?
Now as you are still and focused, pay attention to whatever happens. Something may come to your mind. This is not always God, but if you have asked Him what He is saying and your heart is inclined, ponder what comes. If it is a surprise then consider that it is even more likely to be God. Have you noticed how difficult it is to surprise yourself?
2. Fear and Insecurity: Many people have a fear that God will not speak, or that they are somehow to inadequate to really hear Him. Couple this with the previous barrier, and add the fact that we have an enemy who wants to oppose you hearing from God, and what seems to be God’s silence, can get us focused on ourselves quickly. This is a little bit like trying to hear your spouse whisper to you, while you yourself are screaming loudly that you cannot hear them. Your soul noise will drown out His Spirit whisper.
If you do not hear, or He is not saying something that you recognize as Him speaking THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT HE DOES NOT LOVE YOU. Sorry, was that too loud? This is such a root fear for many, it can amplify the fear that we will not hear.
3. Thoughts: Again, especially for those that are familiar with scripture or think they are familiar with the ways of God we can sometimes unwittingly “help God out” by generating thoughts that fit what we think He should say. That’s all I am going to say about that.
Bottom line, God speaks, the Bible is loaded with examples of when and how God speaks. This is the key to every step along the way. Take a deep breath, be still. Focus, just not on yourself. (be careful not to focus on not focusing on yourself….) pay attention to what come into your mind, and test it.
What impact does it have when it breaks into your consciousness?
Does it produce the fruit of the Spirit? (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, Meekness, Mercy, Self-Control)
Does it produce the fruit of the flesh? (Anger, confusion divisiveness, etc.)
Does the thing that comes to mind help you to see something in a new way? If so, does this way of seeing things line up with scripture?
Sometimes the peace alone of being still and focusing on the Holy One is the very thing He is trying to say to you.
If this is still an area of struggle for you, read Alan Smith Changing My MInd He has some great posts on Hearing God. Also read “Surprised by the Voice of God”, by Jack Deere. This is a very helpful book on recognizing God’s voice.
We will continue on this journey, but I wanted to focus on this piece a little bit more. Shhh, listen.