Familiarity is a haven. When we enter our homes, we breathe freely without fear of questionable eyes. When children are afraid, they sprint into the arms of their parents or loved ones. A waterfall proudly rushes with haste into the river it has been set above. So, why is it that when all seems to be failing, we can struggle to hear the voice of our Creator, the Giver of life?
My entire teenage and adult life, I’ve carried the baggage of bodily suffering as a result of chronic illness. There have been days where walking down my stairs has been too great a task for my weak legs and swollen knees, and taking my daughter to the park seemed akin to running a marathon. Failure to meet the same energy level of others my age has been one of the most difficult trials pertaining to my illness—that, and the fear of not knowing if my body will age well.
Within these dark, endless moments of pain, I ask God about his seemingly perfidious ways while I blast Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” You see, I tend to understand God in an intellectualized way, and it doesn’t always seem to translate from my head to my heart. I can’t hear him… or so I think.
John 10:4 says, “When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (emphasis mine). Just as sheep must become familiar with the Shepherd’s voice, we must become familiar with God’s voice. In the familiarity, we will find the guidance we long for.
How Do We Hear God’s Voice?
Let’s start with the simple answer, friends. God speaks to us all the time. While this may not be good enough for us, it should be. Trust me, I know when you are in the moment of losing your job, struggling through infertility, watching someone you love suffer, having your home taken away, or in a dense life moment, you almost need to audibly hear him.
“The heavens declare the glory of God,Psalm 19:1-3
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun.”
Psalm 19:3 says, “There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.” Dear God, let your voice be heard so I may know your speech!
One way to hear God is to open up his Word—that is, the Bible—and memorize Scripture so that when we are going through a trial, the Holy Spirit can reveal these Scriptures to us. The Holy Spirit—being a part of the Godhead—is God’s voice, and Scripture, his very words. We must read it to know his will and his voice. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “the word of God is living and active.” This tells us that what is written in the Bible was written for the here and now. Although it was written thousands of years ago, he speaks to us today through his living and active Word.
Another way God speaks to us is by sending other people into our lives to help and counsel us.
Paul begins his letter to the Romans saying, “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Romans 1:11-12). God gives us other people to encourage us, correct us, serve us, and love us; it is a “spiritual gift” when another human can strengthen us in the love of God through word or deed.
Matthew 8:27b says, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” It is not out of reach for God to use a neighbor to show you that he cares for you, and friends, that is God’s voice—his will is moving all around us and he uses it to speak. Sometimes rather loudly, and sometimes ever so subtly—like a beautiful, warm breeze in the springtime.
A final, rather important, way to hear God is by practicing prayer. Prayer is a means of grace God has given us to be in connection with him. Remember, as a Christian, there are no coincidences! God has purposed every moment of our life, and prayer is a way to sort that out with God. I look at everything in life as if it is a burning bush. We must approach our circumstances and listen with obedient hearts in order to hear God’s call (see Exodus 3).
You may have reached this point, and be thinking that you still don’t feel like you truly know how to hear God’s voice. When I have been in the midst of my darkest moments, God’s voice has been all around me. I’ve seen it in my daughter’s eyes comforting me, I have heard it in the prayers of my church family, and I have felt it when crying out Scripture in prayer. God’s voice won’t sound identical to a human voice. It won’t sound like your pastor’s Sunday sermon voice or like your mother’s soothing lullabies. His voice will be within those moments, and when we are grounded in Scripture, we are able to notice it. It is as simple as noticing the birds singing as you take a walk. You will learn to know it, despite it being universal.
My default is to pray Scripture when I am struggling most. These prayers have been where I have heard God’s voice most clearly. There is something (to me) about saying them out loud instead of writing them down that has completely altered my psyche in those moments. We read about awe-inspiring prophets in the Bible who pray openly to their God. Not only that, but they pray his words and promises back to him. I have included a portion of Daniel 2:22-23 that I would encourage you to fill in and make personal to your current situation. His voice is there, my friends, don’t ever forget it. He will speak to you in all sorts of ways, and you will never be able to see the world in the same way again.
Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong _______ and _______.
He changes times and seasons;
he removes _______ and sets up ______;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
he reveals _______ and _______;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.
To you, O God of my fathers,
I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me _______ and _______,
and have now made known to me ____________,
for you have made known to me (specify here) ____________.
Photo credit: Sarah Brossart
Sarah is a wife to Executive Chef, Jeremy Thomas, and mother to Vienna Faye. She spent six years as a director of marketing at a home for youth, and is currently a social media coordinator for her church, writer, and lifestyle photographer. Sarah and her family live in their quirky 100-year-old home in Grove City, Pennsylvania.
Sarah Thomas has given many tools to use in the growth of your Christian walk. It has touched my soul and will help me remember how I can hear God’s voice.
What an encouragement to hear how God’s voice is always present with us and speaking to us. Thank you for the read. I loved it.
I love the use of scripture. Lovely article!
Coincidentally, (or not so coincidentally!), I prayed to understand what God wants for my life and how to “hear” Him right before reading this today!
Wow! What a beautifully written article, thank you!!