How to: Hearing the Voice of God

Hello there dear reader! I hope your day is going well, it’s a tad rainy here (which is fantastic), but I hope you are enjoying your day during this spring season. This past week I had a lot on my mind. I have papers to write with the end of the semester coming quick, and I was preparing a message I had an opportunity to give Sunday night with our youth. Throughout the week I will typically have God speak to me and give me a topic to write on Monday morning, but this week, I felt like I heard nothing. I was a bit frustrated, because in the two-ish years I’ve been doing this, I never really struggled with having a topic. I chose not to give up. I got up this morning and began my drive to the coffee shop I write in, and it hit me. It was so obvious about what I could share. You’ve most likely guessed because of your detective skills being able to see the title of this post, but I decided to write about hearing the voice of God. There are many misconceptions about what it looks like to have God speak to us and how we can listen to what he is trying to tell us. It was so apparent that I needed to write about this because I read a verse the other day that I pretty much just looked right over, but there is so much truth to it. It’s a verse that tells us how we can listen to the voice of God and shift our behavior when we don’t feel like God is there at all. James 1:19 says,

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

This verse has two applications, the first, is how we need to act in every relationship we are in, and the second, is the relationship we have in Christ. We are selfish people, I’m guilty of this, we all like to talk and have attention on us. The hard part is, so does everyone else. What we are left with is a bunch of people in relationships where each is being selfish and not willing to listen to the hearts of others and we get angry. It happens all the time; in our friendships, family, dating, marriage, work, and on and on it goes. The biggest person we do this to is God, he just wants to share so much with us, but we become me focused and forget to listen. Today I want to talk about how we can be better listeners, and in turn, how we can hear all that God has for us.

I titled this post wrong.

“But Joshua, that’s the reason I clicked on it?” Don’t worry, I’m talking about the word “hearing.” In communication studies there is a difference between hearing and listening, and this is very important in the way we approach God. Hearing is the biological process of noise/words going into our brain and bouncing around to be interpreted (okay, I’m not a scientist, but that’s the basic principle). Listening is taking that information and creating meaning from it. See the difference? We tend to hear more than we actually listen, and this is because we don’t always want to take the time. During this week I was trying to hear what God was telling me, but when I actually listened, made sense of what I was hearing, God spoke. We have to let go of our pride, humble ourselves, and truly listen. When we listen, God speaks.

The Times Square myth.

I like to call this idea the Times Square myth; In New York city, there are neon signs and gigantic TV screens everywhere in Times Square, each giving you a message to buy Coke Zero or to go see a Broadway show. In our prayer lives I think we often believe that God speaks to us in this way, that he is going to show us the way by a huge screen in the sky, saying, “This is exactly what you should do, have a good day!” That’s the Times Square myth. God isn’t going to do that all the time. Not saying that he can’t, but God won’t choose to speak through a burning bush every time in your life. God often times speaks more subtly. Through scripture, a message from a pastor, or the word of a friend in your small group; God uses little moments. God wants us to open our eyes to what’s right in front of us. I’m still learning this. I want God to write in the sky with fireworks about my life plan, but he often speaks to me in the moments where I least expect it. We have to be ready to listen and open our eyes to the messages he gives each day.

God has the master plan, be patient.

The part in the verse where it tells us to be slow to anger speaks right to this idea. We don’t know the full picture, only a small piece, so we have to wait. Waiting is always hard, that’s the whole idea behind the message I preached last night, but God has us covered. We have to rest and trust completely in him. We can often get frustrated at God when he doesn’t seem to be listening to us, but that’s not true. God has been waiting on you, he has been waiting for you to stop talking so he can comfort you in your time of need. If the path seems unclear right now, cut out the noise in your life. Listen for God to speak. He has all you need, and you have nothing to fear.

How to Hear

Isn’t it awesome how God works? By teaching me what it means to listen to his voice, he gave me a message to share with you. I hope that this helps you hear the voice of God in your life. I hope you know the value in listening, interpreting the words and seeing the true meaning in them. I hope that it gives you comfort that, no, it isn’t just you, God doesn’t speak with a huge message in the sky every time he wants to speak to you. I hope that you take comfort in knowing how God’s plan is so much bigger than you can imagine. You are a child of God. You are made in his image, God died for you, and he has a purpose for your life.

So listen, and you will hear the voice of God.

-Joshua Thomas

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