A lot of times I am asked the question, “How do I hear the voice of God?” My response to that question is, “Are you listening?” What I have learned from my own personal experience is that the Lord is always talking to us whether it’s directly to us, through someone else, or through his written word, we just aren’t always listening.
Sometimes we’re not listening because he’s not talking to us the way WE want him to talk to us. We want to hear the voice of God for ourselves but don’t want to listen when God speaks to us through others. Sometimes we’re not listening because we really don’t know when he’s talking to us, and other times we are simply tuning him out while listening to other voices that oppose his word.
In a world where we are constantly being bombarded by the voices and opinions of others, including our own, it is crucial to know and recognize the voice of the Lord when he is speaking and to obey him. To help us get to a place where we are hearing and obeying the voice of God, I want to first talk about 5 Things Keeping You From Hearing the Voice of God.
Sin was the number one thing that kept me from hearing and obeying the voice of God. Why? Because I wanted to do my own thing. As a Christian I know that I still fall into sin sometimes, but the difference is I don’t want to stay there so when I realize that I have sinned I repent right away. When I was living in sin I was living in open rebellion and disobedience to the word of God because I WANTED to do my own thing. We all know when we are doing things that we have no business doing and we also know whether we want to change it or not.
When I was in sin and God would tell me “hey I want you to go read your bible,” I would absent mindedly tell him “no I’ll do it later,” because I didn’t really want to read the bible. I didn’t truly care about the things of God so I couldn’t really hear and obey his voice even though he was talking to me.
It was kind of like what Jesus said in Matt 13:13 about why he spoke to people in parables, because in seeing thy didn’t really see, and in hearing they didn’t really hear or understand. Yes I “heard” God talking to me, but I didn’t really know or internalize that it was him talking to me so I didn’t really hear him. Sin kept me from hearing God because I was not serving God but Satan, therefore I was not of God and I could not hear his words.
1 John 1:9,10 (ESV) – 9.No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10.By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
John 8:42-44, 47 (NLT) – 42.Jesus told them, If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. 43.Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! 44.For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. 47.Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.
Being lifted up in pride is another thing that can keep us from hearing the voice of God. When we are prideful, we do not want to submit or listen to anyone because we think we know everything already, or we may think a person doesn’t know enough to tell us anything. God could be trying to talk to us though another person, but if we are prideful we won’t listen to them and therefore we are not hearing God. Pride can also keep us from submitting to and hearing the pastor or preacher that God has sent to us to give us a word or sent us to so we can hear a word. It is important to submit to the five fold ministry and the divine order that God has set up for us to be able to receive edification and to hear his voice.
Ephesians 4:11, 12 – 11.And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12.For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Hebrews 13:17 (NASB) – 17.Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
3. Lack of Understanding
A lack of understanding can also keep us from hearing and obeying the voice of God. Matthew 13:19 tells us that when anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and doesn’t understand it, then the wicked one comes and catches away that which was sown in his heart. It’s like when someone tells you something and it goes over your head because you don’t understand it, you’re like, “wait, what?” It’s the same way when God speaks to us, and we just don’t quite understand what he’s saying. Because of our lack of understanding, Satan is able to take that word that was given to us so that it can’t take root in our heart and produce fruit.
4. Trials & The Cares of This World
When it comes to trials and the cares of this world and how it relates to hearing the word of God, Matthew 13:20-22 tells us; As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
Sometimes the trials and tribulations that we go through or the things of this world that we care about make it hard for us to hear the voice of God and obey him. We may hear his instructions and begin to act on it, then when times get tough, we may question the word that we received and fall away from it as if we never heard it. As for the cares of this world, it’s like the example that I gave earlier, I heard the Lord tell me to go read my bible but I wanted to do something else, and because I wanted to do something else, what I wanted to do choked the word that had been given to me.
5. Our Past
According to Min. G. Craig Lewis’s teaching on hearing the voice of God, the way we were raised can effect our ability to hear God and how we hear God. Here is an excerpt from his PDF, “Can You Hear Me,”
The way you were raised has a lot to do with the way you hear. If you were abused, then you don’t respond well to commands or shouting. If you were abandoned, then you try hard to please others. If you were raised in an emotional church, then you need to “feel” a certain way to function spiritually. All these things define who you are. And when you have not healed from these issues, it’s very hard to accept the words from someone that you feel has not been through what you experienced. You may feel your situation is different, or that folks can’t understand you, but the bottom line is, if you don’t hear, you will never change. – G. Craig Lewis
I can definitely understand what he is saying because I have always had a problem ever since I was young with being told what to do. I didn’t like to be told what to do because I felt that by you telling me what to do, you were trying to control me. This became a problem as I got older because it was hard for me to hear God speaking to me through other people, because just like Minister Craig said, I felt like they didn’t understand me and didn’t know what they were talking about.
If you are having difficulty hearing the voice of God, knowing why you may not be hearing his voice could be the first step you take in the direction of being able to hear him. A lot of times we get stuck on wanting to hear God in a specific way and he may be trying to talk to us in a completely different way. Now that you have become aware of the things that could be keeping you from hearing God’s voice, check back next week where we’ll be talking about 5 Things To Help Us Hear God’s Voice.
Remember transparency saves lives,
Ephesians 4:25 – Put away lying, speak every [wo]man truth with [her] neighbor: for we are members one of another.
What are some things that have kept you from hearing God’s voice and how did you overcome them?
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