Have you ever thought about your ability or inability to hear God’s voice? There was a time I got caught up in the frustration of “trying” to hear from God. People would say things like “God told me….” Or “God spoke to me today” and it would bother me because it seemed He was talking to them all the time. I finally had the nerve to ask a friend “What does that mean to you? How do you hear God speak?” Her answer to me was not what I wanted to hear. She said, “When you belong to Jesus, you hear His voice. Jesus tells us His sheep hear His voice and follow Him.” I wanted to shout at her, “That’s it? What am I supposed to do with that? I don’t hear His voice.”
As I continued to ponder her response I realized it was the best answer anyone could have given me because it is Truth. Whether I understood or was experiencing it mattered little. What was important was that I knew I belonged to God! I decided to live in the truth that I could hear His voice and I began to listen. I studied His Word, prayed, worshipped, and believed He would speak to me and I would hear! There were no special formulas or secrets. Only relationship!
There are plenty of books out there on “learning” how to hear the voice of God. I am not a big fan of those books since it seems rather formal and scholarly to treat our relationship with God as something to be learned. A love relationship is of the heart and is best approached intimately. I will agree some people need some relationship advice, could use a little coaching on how to have a conversation, should learn to demonstrate respect, and perhaps even be encouraged to show more love. But teaching them “how” to do these things will not equate to successful relationship building anymore than trying to teach people how to “hear” the voice of God will make them good listeners or obedient followers.
I am thankful my friend did not try to teach me how to hear God and instead told me what the Word said. When we understand “who we are” as followers of Christ, we began to “act” like followers instead of like stubborn, self-willed, “would-be” followers. The best teaching is by example and then there needs to be a willingness to follow. I taught my children respect through demonstrating respect to others and through discipline when they did not exhibit respect to us or others. I did teach them in words what it means to “respect” others, but it was just head knowledge until they had to actually demonstrate it. We can be taught just about anything in theory but that does not mean we learn it. Applying knowledge (wisdom) is necessary in order for us to grow and walk in any given area of life.
“Hearing” God’s voice is about being in relationship with Him. He is wonderful, faithful, and will teach everything we need to know to be in relationship with Him. We certainly can and should teach people “about” God and His Word. That would be called “discipling” them. But it is most important to introduce God to people and allow Him to pursue them in relationship, making Himself known as they seek His face. So this is not so much about teaching you how to hear the voice of God, but a reminder of who we are in light of whom He is, and hopefully encourage us to hear Him.
It is interesting that in the very first book of the Bible we are given the scenario of God speaking to Adam and Eve and they heard Him. Genesis 3:8 “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.” 3:10 “So he (Adam) said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
In nearly every translation of the Bible Genesis 3:8 reads “And they heard the sound of the Lord God…” The Hebrew word for “sound” is “qowl” but in the King James Version it is translated “voice”. “Qowl” means to call aloud, cry out, proclaim, yell, or use a thundering voice therefore “voice” is a better translation than “sound”. Adam and Eve heard the “qowl” of God! Imagine what the sound of His voice was like! And now – know that we too can hear the sound of His voice!
The phrase “voice of the Lord God walking” does not exactly make sense which is why it is more commonly translated “sound of the Lord God walking”. But this differentiation is crucial in order to grasp the fact Adam and Eve heard the Lord’s voice, rather than simply hearing Him walk in the garden. It was His voice that caused them to fear and feel shame about their nakedness not merely His presence. I believe today we may receive a renewed fear of the Lord if we begin to hear His voice rather than simply know He is present with us. Adam and Eve were convicted of their sin when they heard God’s voice. Would we experience more conviction, thus repentance and forgiveness if we were hearing God’s voice more than sensing His presence?
Look at that phrase again. “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day;” Grammatically speaking this can be a little obscure because we usually read it as though Adam and Even heard the Lord walking. However, “they” is the subject of the sentence so we need to look at what “they” were doing (the verb). They (Adam and Eve) were “walking” in the garden in the cool of the day and they heard the voice of the Lord. Please get this – They were walking after they had committed sin and they heard the voice of the Lord. Was He talking to Himself concerning their sin and they heard Him? Possibly! No matter what He was doing or saying, we know He was walking in the garden as were Adam and Eve, but they heard His voice.
We know it is His voice they heard and not just a sound because the Hebrew word for “heard” in Genesis 3:8,10 is “shama” which means “to hear intelligently with the implication of obedience”. It literally means in Genesis that Adam and Eve “heard the Lord speaking” not just making a sound in order for them to shama the qowl of the Lord God. Beloved, we too must recognize we can hear the voice of the Lord. Adam and Eve did not need to figure out how God would speak to them. They were His creation! They knew His voice! They heard His voice! We are His creation! We know His voice! We hear His voice!
It was God’s design to be in relationship with His people; to speak to us and to be heard. His plans are perfect and the Father sent His one and only Son to earth to save His people, and Jesus left Holy Spirit with us when He returned to heaven. We always have God with us! He is a God who never changes – and since we know He talked to Adam and Eve and they heard, He still talks to His people today and we hear.
Jesus illustrates our “hearing” Him by speaking of us as sheep and He as our great Shepherd. John 10:27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” In this verse “hear” means “to perceive the distinct words of a voice” and “to yield obedience to the voice”. Sheep represent followers of any master. As Christians we “follow” Christ; our Lord, Master, and Savior and we perceive His words and yield in obedience to His voice. This is a beautiful thing!
Notice how Jesus states this truth. It is simple and direct. “My sheep hear My voice!” When we belong to Jesus, we hear Him. What comfort, strength, authority, confidence, and boldness this simple truth should give us as followers of Jesus Christ. If you were looking for some deep theological strategy to hearing God’s voice – well, this is it! We hear Jesus when we belong to Jesus!
Instead of trying to understand how we hear His voice, we should simply determine to hear Him. It only gets complicated when we try to figure out how the hearing occurs or when we begin to “think” instead of just “being” followers. We can get fixated on “how” we hear. Do I hear audibly? Will I just get an impression? Will I get a feeling in my heart? Will I hear a voice in my head?
When we get absorbed in these kinds of questions, our hearing becomes mechanical and we limit our intimacy with God. Instead, we must just “be” in relationship with Jesus! Simply follow our Master like sheep follow their shepherd! Do not think about hearing His voice– just hear Him! Jesus said His sheep hear His voice! He said it therefore it MUST be true.
If you have received Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life, declare over yourself TODAY that you hear His voice! If you have not received Jesus as Lord and Savior, send me a note and I would love to tell you more about this God who loves you so much He sent His one and only Son into the world to save you and claim you as His own and desires to have you with Him for all time, all time! (That means forever and ever) There really is a “and they lived happily ever after” with Jesus!