Some years ago, I was facing a personal storm in my life. I asked God to speak to me, but it felt as though I could not hear His voice. A short while later, we had a guest speaker at church, and I remember he spoke on Hebrews 13:5, where God assures His people: ‘I will never, ever leave you nor forsake you.’ At the time, although I heard the words, my mind wandered, and it was only later that I wished I had listened more closely.
Almost one year later, the same speaker came back to church, and he began his sermon with the exact same words from Hebrews 13:5. This time, I hung on to every word; I did not let my mind wander, and I knew that God had really, really spoken to me. He had given me a second chance to hear His word!
At times in our lives, we struggle to hear God’s voice, but I believe God is speaking all the time. I have a TV on the wall in my office. Some days it is switched on, and other days it is not. If the screen was blank, I would not ring the transmitter and ask why I could not see any pictures. I would first check the television to see if it was switched on or defective. Serving in a media organisation, I understand that we are surrounded by invisible TV and radio waves. We cannot see them or hear them unless we switch a receiver on. I believe our lives are the same – to hear God’s voice, we have to switch the receiver on or be tuned to the right frequency.
God’s voice can be heard in the silence
I was raised in the Pentecostal tradition, and our prayer meetings were always exciting, with a lot of fervent prayers. In that situation, sometimes it is easy to think that if we are silent, we are not praying. It is great to pray out loud, but at other times, we also have to tune out the background noise and understand that God does not need to shout in order to be heard. 1 Kings 19 says that God spoke to Elijah in a ‘gentle whisper’, and Psalm 23 says that He leads us beside ‘still waters’. God’s voice can often be heard most powerfully when we take time to be quiet, ready, and willing to listen.
God’s voice is distinct
There are many voices in our lives, and if we do not learn to recognise them, we can confuse the voice of God with other voices around us. There are many voices we can tune into. There’s the voice of our flesh, the voice of our conscience, the voice of our reasoning, the voice of God, and the voice of the enemy (to name a few). There are two important distinctions. The voice of the enemy has one agenda: to kill, to steal, to destroy. The voice of God, on the other hand, is there to lead us to our ultimate destination. His voice may not always tell us what we want to hear (sometimes He disciplines us), but His voice will always be focused – like the GPS in my car – on leading us to the place He wants us to go.
God speaks in more than one way
God speaks to us in many different ways. He can speak to us through His Word, through timing and circumstances, and sometimes, He can speak to us through other people. God’s voice is always accompanied by ‘the peace that passes all understanding’. When we are at peace, we will know that we have heard the voice of God.
I have known this peace in my own life on many occasions, even during the time when we lost our son Jamie. As I went to see Jamie in the Hospital’s Chapel of Rest, I did not want to hear or believe what God said in that moment, but yet, I knew it was the voice of God.
On another occasion (a few weeks before Jamie passed away) I felt strongly prompted to go and pray for a friend’s daughter who had been taken suddenly and seriously ill. I knew, that I knew, that I knew that I needed to go and pray for this little girl. I will share more about this story soon!
If you are listening for God’s voice today and struggling to hear what He is saying, can I encourage you to ‘tune in’ your receiver. Even if you are looking for direction and cannot clearly hear God’s voice (like I was), keep believing and trusting.
God is speaking all the time. Are we listening?