Written by: Kensie Story
“God is speaking. The problem is people have become disoriented to his voice.” (Hearing God’s Voice, Henry and Richard Blackcap)
I used to roll my eyes when someone said God spoke to them. I didn’t think the person was lying, but, because I didn’t understand what it meant to hear God’s voice, because I hadn’t experienced it myself, I shrugged it off and thought “good for them, but not for me”.
I grew up in church. My mom would dress me in frilly white dresses with matching frilly white socks. We would watch as my dad played piano with the worship team. Then my dad would join us in the front row and we’d listen as the pastor preached.
You would think a church veteran like myself would hear God’s voice all the time. You would think someone who believed in God since childhood would definitely know what it sounded like when God spoke. I mean, Jesus himself said, “my sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27), so if I was one of those sheep why wasn’t I hearing anything but silence?
I longed to hear God’s voice. For once, I wanted to be the one who God spoke to. How embarrassing, how defeating, to consistently feel less than the others at church – less spiritual, less special, just less.
Was I doing something wrong? Were they all just making it up? Was God’s voice ever actually heard?
It wasn’t until later in my adult life that I finally understood what it meant to hear God’s voice. I started feeing those nudges deep down in my heart. I started hearing God’s directions. Some might call it their “conscience”, but as a believer I know this to be the Holy Spirit at work inside me.
What was different now that I all of a sudden started hearing God’s voice? Me. I was different.
I was no longer allowing the distractions of life to disrupt my daily time with God. My relationship with Him became a priority rather than a “I’ll get to it when I get to it” relationship.
I was spending more time reading His word. I was spending more time in prayer. God had always been speaking, but until now I was not tuning in.
There’s a boy in the Bible named Samuel who also struggled hearing God’s voice. The first three times God spoke to Samuel, he got up and ran to his teacher, Eli, thinking it was Eli who spoke.
The third time Samuel went to Eli, Eli realized it must be God who was speaking. So, Eli gave Samuel instructions for the next time. He told Samuel to sit still and tell God He was ready to listen.
“Suddenly the Lord called out, ‘Samuel!’
‘Yes?’ Samuel replied. ‘What is it?’ He got up and ran to Eli. ‘Here I am. Did you call me?’
‘I didn’t call you,’ Eli replied. ‘Go back to bed.’ So he did. Then the Lord called out again, ‘Samuel!’
Again Samuel got up and went to Eli. ‘Here I am. Did you call me?’
‘I didn’t call you, my son,’ Eli said. ‘Go back to bed.’
Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before. So the Lord called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. ‘Here I am. Did you call me?’
Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy.
So he said to Samuel, ‘Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’’ So Samuel went back to bed.
And the Lord came and called as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’
And Samuel replied, ‘Speak, your servant is listening.’ ”
(1 Samuel 3:4-10)
We become distracted so easily. We go through our daily routines almost robotic. We don’t stop and silence our surroundings. We don’t sit still with God, showing we are ready to listen, and yet, we expect Him to plow over us with a megaphone voice and grab our attention.
God is a God who desires to communicate. He is a God who calls out and attempts to speak to us. He certainty could grab the megaphone and yell at us, but most of the time He is sitting there, tapping on our shoulder, waiting for us to listen.
We have to choose to stop being distracted and become deliberate in our relationship with God. We must be like Samuel and sit still and say, “Speak, your servant is listening.”
It says in verse seven that Samuel didn’t understand who was speaking to him “because he had never had a message from the Lord before”. We probably will not recognize God’s voice the first time either and that is okay. We learn over time. As God drops little bits of bread and we pick them up, we become more confident in His voice.
The key is not giving up. Don’t let silence scare you off. Just be still, lean into God through prayer, and when you feel like you’ve heard a direction step out boldly in faith.
“Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10 NLT)
If you start to feel tension or anxiousness, stop and reevaluate. Pray again and check God’s word for more guidance. God will never ask you to do something that goes against His word.
“Your word is a lamp for my steps; it lights the path before me.” (Psalm 119:105 The Voice)
But, if you feel a persistent nudge in your soul – the one that won’t let go – that’s your cue to move. Once you take that step of faith, trusting that God did speak and will guide you, you’ll feel an overwhelming sense of peace and become more confident in His voice for next time.
“And know that the peace of God – a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding – will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.” (Philippians 4:7 The Voice)
You don’t have to do this alone. When Samuel came to Eli the third time, Eli was the one who “realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy” and gave Samuel advice on what to do next.
If you are ever feeling unsure, you not only have God to reach out to, but you also can reach out to trusted friends. Ask someone a little further on their faith journey to help you. Pray with them, seeking guidance from God.
“When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.” (Matthew 18:20 MSG)
Let us become people who are less distracted and more deliberate. Let us become people who will be still and listen. Let us become people who trust God enough to take that next step when He speaks.
I’ll be praying for you as you walk down this journey and begin to hear God’s voice. Always remember it’s a process. You don’t have to be perfect. Bit by bit, as you grow and learn, you’ll become more confident in God’s voice and eventually, you’ll be the one sharing with others how God spoke to you, encouraging them to be still and listen too.
“My sheep recognize my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one shall snatch them away from me.” (John 10:27-28 NLT)