Hearing God’s voice sounds a tad mysterious, but it’s not, really. As God’s children, we can expect our heavenly Father to speak to us, and we can expect to hear Him. That’s part of the beauty of having a relationship with Him.
When my daughter, Kim, was a high school senior, a lot of people asked, “What do you plan to do after graduation?” Kim appreciated their interest in her future, but she found the question stressful because she didn’t have an answer. While many of her friends had plans in place, she didn’t feel as though she had clear direction. One day she broke into tears and shared her frustrations with me. This led to a great conversation about hearing God’s voice.
I told Kim about Isaiah 30:21, a verse I’d found especially helpful when seeking God’s guidance in the past. It says, “Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.”
This verse applied to the Israelites, but it’s true for us today, too.
Within the context of this verse, the Israelites had again turned away from God to follow idols. They’d also made military alliances with Egypt rather than trusting God to protect and defend them. Because of these actions, the prophet Isaiah came to them and urged them to turn from going their own way and to follow God’s way instead. Isaiah reassured the people that God would hear their cries for help. If they would ask Him for guidance, He would speak to them and tell them which way to go.
This promise of hearing God’s voice is not a Scriptural stand-alone. John 10:3-4, for instance, beautifully aligns with it. Jesus said, “The gatekeeper opens the gate for him [the shepherd], and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
The shepherd, of course, is Jesus, and the sheep are those who have placed their faith in Him for salvation. By speaking these words, Jesus let us know that He talks to us and we can hear and recognize His voice.
The same two truths are evident in Isaiah 30:21. The words, “a voice will say” presumes that God speaks to His people. The words, “your own ears will hear him” assumes that we can hear Him.
Hearing God’s voice is possible for all His children.
Now, some of you might be thinking, “I’ve never heard God speak. There must be something wrong with me.” If this is your situation, I want to put your mind at ease with encouragement from John 4:24—“For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
In biblical times, God communicated with His people in a variety of ways. He appeared to Moses in a burning bush and later invited him to talk with Him atop a mountain. He appeared to Gideon in the form of an angel. He did the same with Abraham and with Sarah’s servant, Hagar. Nowadays, He communicates in a different way – through the Holy Spirit speaking to our spirit. In John 16:13, Jesus said this would be so: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard.”
Have you ever awakened from a deep sleep with a sense of urgency to pray for a particular person? Have you ever felt an inescapable nudge to call or text someone with whom you haven’t connected for a long time? Maybe you’ve felt compelled to write a check to a missionary, or to ask the grocery store clerk how she’s doing, or to pay for the order belonging to the person behind you in line at a fast-food restaurant. Maybe you were in a heated conversation with someone and were just about to say something regrettable when you sensed a “shush” inside.
God speaks through His Holy Spirit’s whispers and nudges. He communicates to us through song lyrics, a friend’s wise counsel, the beauty of creation, and a child’s innocent words. Sometimes He talks to us through a sense of uneasiness that we cannot shake, or a conviction that grows stronger over time. Always He speaks through His written Word.
Hearing God’s voice depends largely on our heart condition.
If we’re bent on doing our own thing as the Israelites were—by making idols on which to lavish our affection and casting our confidence in false gods rather than the living God, then we’re going to have a tough time hearing him.
Sometimes the noise of our daily hustle and bustle drowns out His voice. This can be true even for those of us involved in career ministry. We get so busy serving God that we don’t spend time seeking His face or listening for what He may want to say. Occasionally God tells us something we don’t want to hear, so we choose to tune Him out.
God speaks to His children—that’s a truth on which we can rely. If we can’t hear Him, it’s not due to His inability to communicate. It’s because our ears and our hearts are on a different frequency. We need to make whatever adjustments are necessary to tune our ears and hearts to the same frequency as His.
In my daughter’s situation, she and I turned today’s Bible verse into a daily prayer. Together we asked God to speak to her and to direct her in the way she should go after she completed high school. We also asked Him to give her a heart to hear and obey what He said. We trusted Him to answer because He is faithful to do what He says He will do.
In response to our prayers, God gave Kim the idea of attending a one-year Bible school program. She applied, and He opened the doors for her to go. She took a leap of faith in trusting Him for the finances needed, and He honored her for doing so.
God wants to speak to us because He wants relationship with us and He desires our best. Oh, that we would cherish hearing His voice as much as He cherishes us.
May I pray for you? “Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us enough to communicate with us. Thank You for talking with us as our best friend and wise counselor, as our teacher, comforter, and guide. Lord, we long to hear Your voice. Open our ears and tune our hearts to You. Help us distinguish Your voice from so many others clamoring for our time and attention. And grant us joyfully obedient hearts to do as You say. In Jesus name, amen.”