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What if I can’t hear God speak?

by Julia M. Bruce, MSPC, Mental Health Coach,
Keynote Speaker, CEO, Wellspring Christian Ministries

Is God silent? What if I can’t hear God speak?

Do you ever feel that God is silent? That He has nothing to say to you? If you do, know this: God, throughout history, has always been in communication with His people. The writer of Hebrews tells us that God spoke in times past in various ways. With Adam and Eve, he came in the cool of the evening to walk and talk with them.

To Abraham, he stopped by to visit along with a couple of angels and had a meal with him and told him that he would make him a father of many nations.

We know God told Noah to build an ark and gave him all the instructions for doing so, but the Bible doesn’t say “how” God spoke to him.

For Moses, God spoke from a burning bush. (Exodus 3) 

Joseph and Jacob talked with God in dreams.

Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-7) and Ezekiel had “visions.”

God sent angels to Gideon, Daniel, and Mary.

Samuel heard God call his name when he was trying to get to sleep one night. (1 Samuel 3)

Elijah heard a “still, small voice.” (1 Kings 19)

To speak to the entire nation of His chosen people, God communicated through his prophets that he appointed – people like Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and more.

God used a donkey to speak to Balaam  (Numbers 22).

He spoke to Jonah while he was sitting under a tree (Jonah 4:6).

How do I hear God speak today?

Today, God still speaks to us, only it looks a little different. Psalms 119:105 tells that He speaks to us through His Word. Paul tells us that because nature itself tells us about God and His eternal power and divine nature, no one has an excuse, (Romans 1:20). God speaks to us in church through the music, sermons, and small group Bible study. He speaks to us deep in our inner most human spirit. And, as the writer of Hebrews tells us, he speaks to us through His Son, Jesus. While Jesus lived on earth, God spoke to us through Him and as we read the words spoken by Jesus in our Bible, He continues to speak to us through Jesus. After Jesus returned to the Father, He sent the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth. He is our “communicator” from God.

God wants to reveal Himself to us

God wants to reveal Himself to us so that we can know Him. Just as we get to know other people through conversations, we get to know our heavenly Father as He speaks to us and reveals something new about Himself as we worship and read His Word. The reason He wants to reveal himself to us is so we might know Him because He want us to fellowship with Him. He created us just for this purpose. If we are not seeking Him and developing our relationship with Him, then there is a void and we desperately seek to fill it – sometimes with all the wrong things  – but the only possible, satisfying why to fill the void, is to fill it with the Lord Jesus Christ.

A Problem with Sin

However, each and every one of us has a problem – a sin problem. Sin will always stand in the way like a giant bully, blocking our way to God and hindering our fellowship with Him. Man’s fellowship with God was originally broken in the Garden of Eden and man has been breaking it every since. But God told Adam and Eve that He had a plan – a way to restore the broken fellowship. That plan was His own Son who would come to earth, born as a baby to a young virgin woman, grow up, teach His disciples the gospel message, die on a cross in our place as the payment for our sin – even though he knew no sin – was buried, and then rose again conquering death, hell, and the grave. This is why Jesus is the perfect voice of God.

Seven attributes of Jesus

Not only is Jesus our Redeemer and Savior, but the writer of Hebrews gives us seven attributes that details why He is superior to all that had come before and all that will come after Him. 

  1. Jesus is the heir of creation for whom all thing have been made.
  2. He is the Creator through whom all things have come into existence.
  3. He is the radiance of the divine glory toward which all of creation looks for fulfillment.
  4. As the Son of God, Jesus is the exact image of the person of God the Father.
  5. He is the word of God, the only prophet of God who is also God Himself.
  6. He is the priest of God who has provided the perfect sacrifice for all human sins.
  7. And He is the king who sits on the throne at the right hand of the Father.

For all of these reasons, the writer of Hebrews acknowledges that Jesus is higher, superior, and above the angels

To Hear God, we must quieten our spirits

To be able to hear the voice of God, we have to first quieten our spirits. If you’ve ever tried to do that then you know it can be difficult. It’s like if I say to you, “I do not want you to think about the word ‘cookie’. All of a sudden cookies are all you can think about.

When you try to quiet you spirit – all of a sudden everything you didn’t get done today comes rushing into your mind. Paul told us to “take every thought captive” and we can do it. Sometimes it takes several attempts – so don’t give up. As my piano teacher used to say, “Practice makes perfect.” And so does patience. Sometimes those distractions when you are trying to quiet your spirit are Satan trying to interrupt the voice of God from reaching you. So if you struggle with getting quiet, as the Holy Spirit to bind up Satan and empower you to get quiet so you can hear from God.

Testing to know if you have heard God speak

When you think you have heard from God, there are some “tests” you can hold against what you think you’ve heard to try to determine if it was indeed from God:

Test #1: A gentle and still, small voice guiding us to His will

Just as Elijah found out in 1 Kings 19, God often speaks in a still, small voice, gently leading us towards His will and His plans for us. When it our self or Satan trying to deceive us, the message looks more like a loud, compulsive, clamoring demand.

Test #2: Does what we heard produce freedom?

Matthew 11:28-30 tells us the God’s voice produces freedom. Self and Satan’s voice will often produce bondage.

Test 3#: Are you whole-heartedly seeking Him?

Jeremiah 29:12-13 tells us that God is able to be found (heard) when we are consciously, whole-heartedly seeking Him. Self or Satan will speak with sudden intrusions of thoughts into the mind.

Test #4: God is always in control

Psalms 37:4 teaches us that God is always in control, so if He speaks to us, then we should have a sense that everything is under control. If it seem like everything is out of control with the message you have received, then it is probably born within our self or it is from Satan.

Test #5: God often gives clear and specific directions and leads the way

Just as when God wanted Noah to build the ark, he provided Noah with all the instructions, blueprints, etc. God often gives clear and specific directions. Even when he spoke to Abraham and told him to leave his home but God didn’t give him the directions, he told Abraham that He would lead him. Satan and Self breeds confusion – not certainty

Test #6: God extends an invitation and forgiveness and never leaves us with guilt

When God convicts, He will point out specific sins and extend an invitation for us to confess, repent, and find forgiveness. Self and Satan accuses us in such a way that we are left with guilt and no forgiveness.

Test #7: Does it stand up to the Word of God

When God speaks, it is always 100% truth that can be tested by the Word of God. Self and Satan often dish out lies that are laced with half-truths.

Test #8: Is there a sense of peace?

God’s voice gives us a sense of peace while self or Satan does not.

We can also test the Word we receive through the wisdom of many counselors who can help confirm that what we heard was from God or not.

There are no shortcuts to learning to recognize when you hear God Speak

No matter how much we desire to hear the voice of God, there is no shortcuts to learning to recognize when He speaks to us. If you want to hear from him, you must spend time with Him. The more time you spend with Him, the easier it will be for you to recognize His voice. God says in Jeremiah 29:12-13, “You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for me with all your heart. I will be found by you.” — this is the Lord declaration. If you are having trouble with hearing form God, are you seeking and searching for Him with all your heart?

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