Recently I was driving to the gym. I always pray on my way, not because I’m a good Christian, but because it’s a habit. This particular morning my head was very busy. Still half asleep, my mind went to conversations around a particular TV show, to what I was going to do that day and my side projects, like this blog. I tried to shake off the thoughts and focus on my prayer.
I asked the Lord why is it so difficult to pray and hear from Him. If I’m honest it wasn’t a pray but a complaint, I was already near the gym and was just kind of fed up and a bit frustrated. Frustrated that I couldn’t think coherently and frustrated how God speaks to us.
I was reminded of this scripture. Then He told me, “I’ll never raise my voice at you. You’re struggling to hear me because of what you’ve filled your mind with.” It’s not that He’s not talking, and it’s not that I am not listening, it’s that I can’t hear Him over the noise. Then I was reminded of the scripture in Mark 4.
Cares of THIS World
Depending on the version of this verse it’s easy to gloss over. We consider deceitfulness and lust as the context. Look at the first part, “cares of this world.” Cares is translated as worry or anxiety here. While that is certainly something that can take you away from God and hinder you hearing from God, I think it can include some of the senseless cares that we add to our lives unintentionally.
This world or this life literally means the current world. In other words, the worries of our current life. The technology-infused information age. If you just meditate on that what might that look like?
Cares like will Spider-man live on after the events of Avengers: Infinity War? Will you ever be as good as Ninja at Fortnite? How many subscribers, followers or fans? Will Star Wars ever be good again? Will my sports team ever draft the right player?
At an initial glance, some of these cares seem innocuous. You might think I’ve gone too far here, and if you think that, then you went too far. I’m not suggesting that entertainment is bad, what I’m suggesting is that if you fill yourself with entertainment and neglect God’s word you’re not likely going to hear from Him. In the same way, I was guilty of letting my dreams and goals cloud my mind vs what was most important.
We Need Focus To Hear God Speak
In ancient battlefields, there were no sat phones or drones overhead. Military commanders had to use runners, flags and their voice to help direct the troops. In the midst of a battle, a soldier had to keep their ears and eyes tuned to the fight and to look for the signals. A soldier didn’t have time to worry about anything other than the enemy and the battle plan.
In the west, we don’t have that intense focus of a soldier. We can practice our Christianity without persecution. Sure social media isn’t kind to Christians overall, but that’s another topic for another day. Make no mistake. We are in a spiritual battle. We must be submitted and tuned into His voice in order to execute the plans He has for us.
With the understanding that it will require a clear focus let’s look at some practical ways, you can hear from God.
How Does God Speak To Us
God talks to us in a few different ways. If you are someone who says, “I’ve never heard from God,” then I challenge you right now to say a prayer.
“Heavenly Father, I have heard you speak to others, I believe you have something to say to me, please open my mind, eyes, and ears to hear you, today.”
You must first believe that He wants to talk to you and that He does actually speak to you.
When I say God talks to me, I’ve never heard the voice with my ears. It’s always a voice in my mind that sounds a little like my voice but with some distinct difference. What’s spoken is immensely wise, much wiser than I ever could be. It’s always loving. What’s said, even in correction is always edifying. It always matches His word in specificity or in character. Sometimes it’s future-oriented, sometimes it’s a revelation of something in the past.
God doesn’t just “speak to your mind” there are 3 main ways He speaks to us. The first and most obvious one is His word. The second way is often through other people. The final way is through our worship, specifically through prayer, fasting, and actual worship.
God Speaks To Us Through His Word
If you haven’t heard from God in a while what He might be saying, “I already wrote down what you needed in this season.” In my life, I’ll often read a scripture that I’ve read many times before and skimmed over only to realize that it had something very applicable to my current situation.
Recently I read James 1:6, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt [waver], because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” I have read this verse over 100 times. I love the book of James. I always read over this one because I thought I really believed God and didn’t waver. The way I read that verse spoke to my salvation.
However, when I began to understand it more. The Holy Spirit really caused me to understand what waver really means. I had a few setbacks over the last few years and I began to not believe that God was going to move these mountains. Not because He couldn’t but because I thought He didn’t want to. I stopped praying about them. I wavered. God showed me this scripture, then reminded me that prayer was a long term endeavor. Like the parable of the woman and the judge. She keeps coming to the judge until he gives in. This renewed my faith.
Many believers haven’t had a real experience with God because they haven’t expected one and they haven’t been reading and studying the Word.
God Speaks To Us Through Others
Many times you’ll hear a message from a Pastor and feel like that message was crafted just for you, or perhaps you’ll talk to a friend and they’ll say something that opens your eyes. Internally you’ll say, “that’s so good.” This can be God speaking to you.
The danger of hearing God through others is often we’ll make this the only way we hear from Him. Our walk is a process and there are seasons. In some seasons we’ll need to hear from others in order to take another step. However, we cannot become reliant on others, and at the same time, we need to remain humble enough to listen when someone speaks.
The key to hearing God through others is asking, “does it line up with the Word?” If you are going through a tough time in your marriage and everything seems chaotic and a friend suggests a divorce then you know that’s not from God. However, if that same friend suggests counseling or getting help or forgiveness then you have something to work with.
There have been many times where I’ve had a rough financial situation or had many “purpose” questions. I’d read the Bible and pray but if I’m honest, I really felt like I was going through the motions in those areas. God would send someone to renew my strength in this area. I don’t mean a prophecy, I’m talking about a friend or an acquaintance. Many times they would be dealing with something and sharing a revelation they had. That revelation would spark something in me.
One test is that spark. There is something about hearing from God via His word, worship or through others that cause a spark on the inside. That spark can be the catalyst to get us moving again.
God Speaks To Us Through Worship
Probably the best way to hear from God is through worship. It’s great because it forces you to get rid of anything in your mind that has nothing to do with Him. It’s simple, but not easy. I struggle in this area. I love to worship in a song but my mind is often thinking about tasks to accomplish or plans I need to make. It takes a significant amount of energy to get focused on Him completely. Worship can come in many forms. Biblically, this could be songs and hymns, it could simply be prayer, prayer with an expectancy of receiving a response.
Another way to worship is fasting. Fasting often helps you unclog your ears, eyes, and heart in this instance. So many times I’ve seen people receive breakthrough because they fasted. The lack of food is simply one way to deny your fleshly desires to build stamina, but that alone isn’t what brings the life change. It’s the focus. Often in a fast, you remove distractions like social media and other forms of entertainment. This declutters your mind.
If we’re honest, we give worship to so many other things that it’s no wonder many people struggle with hearing from God. I’m not being judgemental here, I’m writing this for myself. I’m guilty of this.
There are books that go in deeper if you still have questions about hearing from God (see recommend reading at the end of the book). I can tell you that for me no book has changed my life more so than the Bible. The turning point for me was when I expected an answer back. While there are many methods to try to hear from God, it’s likely He’s been speaking to you this whole time. The key is to tune your ear to him. Sometimes He speaks and it’s easy to identify and other times it’s a whisper which requires us to focus on Him.
There are seasons where He seems quiet and other times He seems to be speaking in every key moment. One thing is clear is that He never gives you the full plan. It’s quite frustrating, but He wants us to stay close. I’ve said it before, God has us on Street View.