I believe most christians encounter seasons when we feel distant and can't hear God’s voice. We cry out desperately in our prayers seeking a sign or asking for direction on how to handle our situations but our cries return to us null and void. I know this feeling all too well, I had to ask myself “am I only crying out to him when I am facing a crisis or a life altering decision? Do I pray these fervent prayers when life seems to be peaches and cream and everything seems to be going well?” Reality hit me like a ton of bricks when I realized that God isn’t some kind of genie in a bottle. I can’t rub a golden lamp and have my wishes granted upon request. God is our father who wants nothing more than an intimate relationship with us. I am well aware of how frustrating it can be when he feels absent but trust me, God is speaking to us all the time and through our salvation we have free VIP access to hear him speak personally, we just have to figure out what is blocking our signals.
Think about it like this, our favorite radio station plays 24/7 however, we may only hear it when we are tuned in driving to or from work. What happens when we step out of the car, do radio stations stop transmitting music simply because we are no longer listening? Although we would love to think that the world revolves around us, unfortunately it does not and the radio stations are still live when we are no longer there to listen. The same can be said for God, he is continually transmitting his voice to us but most of the time we aren’t tuned in. There are numerous reasons as to why we may not be tuned in but I think the most common is because we are too busy. Yes, it is possible that we can make ourselves too busy to hear God’s voice. We can become consumed with work, family, and even if we are in the field of working for God full time we can still be too busy to focus on him as ironic as it may sound. Our imagination leads us to believe that God is supposed to speak to us in the most dramatic way which causes us to look for unrealistic answers but think about how God spoke to Elijah. “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”. (1 Kings 19:9-13)
After all that commotion Elijah heard the sound of a low whisper and that was the voice of the Lord. Psalm 46:10 says “Be still, and know that I am God.” In other words relax, calm down, because it is in the stillness not the busyness that we hear from God. So how can we hear God’s voice today? Well, we need to recognize that there are no tricks or gimmicks to this however, we need to acknowledge that God uses many forms of communication to speak to us.
We need to open our bibles
You may have known this already however, this can't be stressed enough; it's the common sense that doesn't seem so common until you read it that hits hardest. God has left us with the syllabus and answers wrapped up in one book. My now pastor Chuck Martin put it perfectly when he said, “God left you a personal letter, you just have to open your mail”. In the midst of confusion and frustration we begin to pray more, desperately seeking answers. Most of the time in these instances we pray more than we read our bibles but the reality of it is, God has already given you the answer to your situation through his word and you won’t come to that conclusion until you open your bible. Don’t get me wrong, prayer is great and we should talk to God everyday; however, our bibles are the first line of communication with God where his words which reveal his character can be lifted straight from the paper and into our hearts.
Don’t mistake God’s Voice with your own thoughts
Oftentimes we miss the message because it is easy to confuse God’s voice with our own thoughts. I know this can be a little tricky but we must filter that thought through a series of questions to determine if it's from God, it makes life much simpler. Ask yourself these questions:
Do I sense God’s peace about it?
Is my thought convicting or condemning?
Does it agree with God’s word?
Does it emulate God’s character?
If your thought is properly filtered through these questions that's how you can be sure that you are hearing from the Lord. I’ve been getting thoughts for years to write a book or to start a blog describing my walk with Christ but because I assumed it was my own thought it was easy for me to dismiss it allowing the devil to creep in and feed me lies, such as “I am not good enough”, “I'm not a good writer”, and the infamous “Nobody will take me seriously” which is condemnation at its finest. I never once considered the peace that overwhelmed me when I thought about documenting how God has transformed my life. Thankfully his voice never went away, hence the reason you are reading this blog now, two years later. We must remember that God leaves impressions on our spirit so instead of saying “ I think I should…” when a thought comes to mind try saying “I think the Lord wants me to…” and then go into prayer and seek confirmation.
God speaks to us through other people
Lastly, God speaks to us through other people. No, I am not talking about through means of a prophet or prophetess, God communicates through spirit. Have you ever had a conversation with someone and they said something that made a light in your brain switch on to where you replied with “wow, I needed to hear that”, well more than likely you did need to hear that and God used that person to relay a message to you. This happens often however, sometimes we miss the message because we assume it has to come from a particular person, someone with a high “spiritual” rank per-say. We can't forget that God has the power to do anything and is ruler of everything, sometimes we may even receive messages or confirmation from unbelievers.
The next time you become discouraged because you can’t hear God, ask yourself “am I tuned in?” Run to your bible, reflect on your thoughts and filter them through the series of questions provided and always be present while talking to people, you never know how God can turn that conversation into a blessing.