It’s widely felt that God only speaks to us in the way a conductor would lead his orchestra in the William Tell Overture – by blowing us our of the saddle! That’s because we tend to look only at the Oscar-winning examples: Moses at the burning bush, Paul blinded on the Damascus road, Joshua and the walls of Jericho, Jonah swallowed by a great fish, Daniel and the den of lions, Shadrach and the fiery furnace, and the countless miracles of Jesus.
What a sad misconception! Just because you haven’t had an earth-shattering experience doesn’t mean God isn’t talking to you. It’s a lie from Satan to think that we aren’t important enough to have Him communicate with us.
The problem isn’t with God speaking to us; the problem is with our listening to God. Either we are too busy and distracted or we haven’t learned how to listen to God. Learning to listen to God is one of the most important skills we can learn in life.
When you feel like you aren’t as close to God as you once were, like you are drifting from God, it’s not always a matter of just praying more. It’s often more a matter of listening to what He is saying.
We’ve already seen that God does indeed speak to man today. We looked at lots of Bible examples. The ways God spoke to people in the Bible and still speaks to us today include nature, other people, conscience, circumstances and through the Holy Spirit.
Last time we saw that God speaks to us in a gentle whisper, a still, small voice. Some times He speaks rich and enlightened thoughts to our minds. Other times it is a warm burning in our heart that lets us know it is Him speaking to us. Sometimes it can be both at once.
Usually the first time we hear Him speak it is convicting us of our sin and need of Him. He continues to warn us about sin and point out sins we have committed. He also communicates information and guidance when we need that. At other times He may speak encouragement and peace to us. When He has a special service of ministry to do He gives us direction and ability to do that. Then, too, there are times He reveals Himself to us so we will respond in worship.
Now that we’ve covered the topic of God speaking to us, we need to turn to our side – man listening to God. Since God does speak to me, what can I do to hear God’s voice?
Hearing God’s voice is more than just reading a couple Bible verses each morning. Deion Sanders, the famous athlete, tried that. He tells how each evening he’d be deeply involved in all kinds of sin, but in the morning he’d always read his Bible. That was a habit built into him by a devout grandmother. He said he did it regularly just like brushing his teeth, but five minutes after he was done he had no idea what he read. It wasn’t until he accepted Jesus as his Savior that he started hearing God when he read.
The first requirement to hear God’s voice is salvation. While our sin still separates us from God we are not only spiritually blind, we are also spiritually deaf. Since it is God’s Spirit within us that communicates God’s messages to us, we don’t have a ‘receiver’ or ‘transmitter’ until we have God’s Spirit.
However, just because we have accepted Jesus as Savior and have the Holy Spirit inside doesn’t mean we are always attuned to Him. Sin, rebellion, disobedience, self-centeredness, laziness, these and many other things can quench His Spirit. We don’t lose the Holy Spirit when we sin, but we do cut off the communication with God that comes through Him. So we need to be disciples who follow Him and live for Him in order to regularly hear from Him.
When we have accepted Jesus as Savior and have Him first in life, with no unconfessed sin, we will hear from God. God supernaturally opens our spiritual eyes so we can ‘see’ His truth. He also opens our spiritual ears so we can ‘hear’ His voice. Ezekiel 12:2 warns, “Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?” So important is this verse that it is quoted seven times in the Gospels and another seven times in the Book of Revelation.
These verses imply first of all a capacity to spiritually hear God and also a choice we can or cannot make to willingly listen to His voice.
So before we can listen to God we must have His Spirit within and there can be nothing blocking our listening to Him. We must make that free will choice to listen to Him.
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)