How do we get better at hearing God’s voice? The answer doesn’t lie in a formula or a set of rules: “Follow these 3 steps, take time out or spend 15 minutes with God each day.”
Hearing God’s voice happens in the context of relationship, so if we want to get better at it, it’s the state of our relationship that becomes the focus. This week on God Conversations with Tania Harris we’re talking about how to get better at hearing God’s voice. It’s one of the most important questions to ask because it lies at the heart of knowing God.
We’ll get better at hearing God’s voice by applying the same principles that we use to grow communication in our human relationships. In the podcast, we look at three different principles that apply:
1. Make a commitment to improve your communication
Learning to hear God’s voice is a process that develops with time and practise. We learn to recognise his voice.
The prophet Samuel was a man who knew how to hear God’s voice. He was the expert. The Bible says of him that not one of his words fell to the ground – they all came to pass (1 Samuel 3:19). In fact Samuel became the prototype for all prophets to come. But he wasn’t always as good as hearing God’s voice. The first time he heard it, he thought it his mentor calling. He heard the voice three times and still he didn’t get it right! (1 Samuel 3:1-15).
As we see, Samuel learnt. He got better at hearing God’s voice as he got to know the person behind the voice.
So first, we need to understand that learning to hear God’s voice takes time. Then, we need to commit ourselves to learning. We ask God to teach us. We listen for his voice. We ask him questions. Then, when we think we’ve heard his voice, we go back and check. We ask God to confirm. We pray; “Make yourself clear Lord.” We start in the small things and we learn in the same way Samuel did.
2. Learn to trust his communication (as he learns to trust yours)
Communication is an issue of trust. We learn to trust that others mean what they say – and they learn to trust that we mean what we say.
In the same way, when it comes to hearing God, we need to learn to trust his communication – to learn that he means what he says and that he delivers on his promises (Numbers 23:19). That means when he speaks, we need to act on his words. We need to follow and obey.
Then when we will see his faithfulness and trustworthiness, we’ll be able to continue hearing him speak. When we learn to trust his communication, we will find it easier to hear his voice.
But there’s another side to it as well. God also needs to trust our words. So when we say things to him like; “I want to follow you”, he’s watching for our response. When he says, “Ok I want you to do this for me”, will we do what we says? Jesus said that if we love God, we will obey and then he can show more of himself to us (John 4:21). When God sees that we mean what we say, he can entrust us with more. It’s like any relationship we have on earth. We will have clearer and more meaningful conversations when we grow in trust for each other.
3. Become more honest in your communication (as he becomes more honest in his)
Finally we get better at hearing God’s voice when we become more honest with God – when we open up our hearts to him in both the good times – and the bad. A close relationship means that we share our true thoughts to God and don’t distance ourselves when circumstances go awry.
This principle also means we need to allow God to share his true thoughts to us – to allow him to speak into every area of our lives. We need to be prepared to listen to him no matter what he says. This level of honesty builds relationship and we find ourselves being able to hear more of what God is saying.
These are the kind of conversations that change us. They set us free. Jesus said his words are spirit and they are life (John 6:63), that they are bread to our bodies, food to our spirits and life to our souls – that we can’t live without them (Matthew 4:4)! When we learn to communicate with God, we are transformed. We become the people we were born to be.
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