Tag Archives: hearing God

Tips for Hearing God More Clearly

hearing God

Do you want to hear God more and with greater clarity? We should all seek to grow in hearing God more frequently and more accurately than we currently do.

Maybe you don’t think you hear God much at all — yet. It could be you are hearing Him, but not recognizing how much He is already speaking to you!

Here are a few tips for better hearing:

Value the small things God says to you.

Limiting our expectation for hearing God’s voice to only monumental revelation can really hinder our ability to hear Him. We want to know about the future, we desire a word of guidance, or we look for an entire blueprint for the next five years of our lives. But those aren’t the only ways God speaks — in fact, they will be in the minority.

Most of our everyday conversations with loved ones are not made up of pivotal, life-changing discussions. We talk about the day-to-day events, and we enjoy doing it. God doesn’t only speak about the big stuff, either.

Gentle thoughts such as “Don’t be afraid; I’m here,” or “I love you, and I will always stand with you,” or “Just trust Me and I’ll take care of you,” are God talking to you. These are the kinds of things He says most of the time. He is delighted when you treasure the little things He speaks.  Respond to them gratefully, record them in your prayer journal, and allow them to bring you into affectionate conversation with the Lord.

God’s voice is not like the opinions and speculations of man.

What He says has a different tone from what we hear and see in our natural world, because He knows way more than the “experts” in the media. God never has to speculate on how things will turn out. He’s always out in front of current situations.

God never projects anxiety over the future. It is finished, and Jesus already has secured the victory, remember? He’s not nervous and worried, wondering whether His people will pray enough or do all the right things to make life on earth go well. Because He isn’t wringing His hands, He doesn’t speak anxiety into us, either.

Sometimes Christian leaders temporarily get off in the flesh and say things like, “People of God, it’s all going down if we don’t pray harder / preach louder / get more involved. God won’t win this one if we don’t get out there and DO!” That’s a spirit of fear speaking, not the Spirit of God.

God’s voice will inspire awe of Him, but not fear about our circumstances. He will show us what steps to take. He will prompt us to pray earnestly, but from a position of being confident that He will answer, not from a place of panic. “For you shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rearward” (Isaiah 52:12).

God’s voice does not feel like a club beating us over the head.

The Spirit will convict us of areas where we are not aligned with Him — sinful thinking, speaking, and habits. But condemnation, shame, and accusations are the devil’s tools, not God’s. The Lord’s reproof carries with it a sense of His sorrow over our wrongdoing, but also His assurance that He still loves us. There is hope attached to His correction.

Shut down the background noise.

We need periods of undistracted quiet if we hope to hear the “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit. That might mean shutting off even the Christian music at times. Some people are uncomfortable if they don’t have background sound. Really, it’s all about habits. Just as you formed the habit somewhere along the line of always having sound going on around you, you will have to accustom yourself to the “sound” of quiet. Try it for a short period of time, and then increase the silent time gradually.

In addition to turning off physical background noise, we must learn to shut out the clamor of too many voices pouring into our heads through news and social media. We are bombarded with opinions coming at us from all directions. Deliberately cut out, or at least limit, what you read or listen to in the way of people’s ideas. When our ears and eyes are constantly absorbing what others think, our brains become overloaded. Our thoughts swirl out of control. When the mind is overstimulated, it is difficult to hear the Lord deep down in our spirit. Learn to reduce the barrage of your natural senses, so that your spiritual senses can gain the upper hand.

When we shut down distractions, we make way for the Lord to speak to us about His eternal perspectives.

Ask the Lord questions.

Ask them one at a time. Then wait for His answer. This is one of the best ways to begin hearing Him more clearly. Our Father loves conversation time with His children. We do well to give Him the opportunity.

I hope some of these tips will be useful to you in your quest to hear the Lord more clearly. Would you like to share tips you have found helpful in hearing Him? By commenting, you may provide just what someone else needs!

how to hear God's voice

 

Hotline to Heaven: Hearing the Voice of God
A short, no-nonsense tutorial by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Sword, Shield, Reward

swordRecently the Lord spoke to me via a gentle thought, “God’s Word is a sword and shield to me.” Immediately, my intellect went to work correcting me, “No! The Word is the sword of the Spirit, but faith is the shield!” (Ephesians 6:16, 17). I recognized, though, that this was merely my mind trying to misuse Scripture to steal from me what God wanted to implant in my heart. (How many of you ever have this happen to you? I think it is probably more frequent than we realize.)

I asked the Lord to help me recall whether there were verses in the Bible which would connect the Word with a shield. And what came to mind was that Jesus and His Word are one, because He is the Word. John 1:1 and 14 reveal Jesus as the Word: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us….”

Jesus is also our shield: “But You, O LORD, are a shield for me…” (Psalm 3:3) and, “Behold, O God our shield. … For the LORD God is a sun and shield…” (Psalm 84:9, 11).

So, because Jesus is our shield, and the Word and Jesus are one, God’s Word can be seen as both a sword and a shield to us. Now, how do we apply that idea? Many of us are already familiar with using the Word of God as our sword. It is our offensive weapon, used to aggressively take territory from the enemy through declaring, “It is written …,” claiming what is rightfully ours and the Kingdom’s through our blood covenant in Christ Jesus.

But the Word is also our defensive shield. We use it to wrap protection around ourselves and our loved ones. We use powerful verses like those found in Psalm 91, or Psalm 140:4: “Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent man; who have purposed to overthrow my goings.”  Again, we might use it in an “It is written” declaration, or we might simply petition the Lord for His deliverance from evil, by praying the Word back to Him.

You may already be using God’s Word as both a sword and a shield, but sometimes an image such as this can solidify for us what we are doing, so that it becomes a more settled truth in our hearts. We increase in confidence in using God’s Word when we can picture it as our sword and shield.

crownThe next day, another of those gentle thoughts came to mind: “God is my reward. He is my exceedingly great reward.” I knew that was somewhere in the Bible, and sure enough, when I searched, Genesis 15:1 was the spot: “After these things, the word of the LORD came to Abram [Abraham] in a vision, saying, ‘Fear not, Abram: I am your shield, and your exceedingly great reward.'”

We often focus on the rewards we will someday receive for our faithful service to the Lord, but do we realize that He, in and of Himself, is the greatest reward we will ever have? Compared to the reward of Himself all other rewards are paltry.

Because he believed the Lord, Abraham was called the Friend of God (James 2:23). Jesus said of us, “You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you. From now on, I do not call you servants, … but I have called you friends…” (John 15:14, 15). Abraham was God’s friend; we are His friends. He was Abraham’s exceedingly great reward; He is our exceedingly great reward. How amazing that we can participate in this blessing!

May these precious truths sink deeply into each of our hearts:

  • God’s Word is our sword and also our shield.
  • And He Himself is our shield and our exceedingly great reward.

nature of God

 

Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

intercessor handbook

 

The Intercessor’s Companion,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

Finding God in the Waiting

If we were to take a survey to find out how many Christians would like to hear God personally speak to them, I would imagine the vast majority would say, “Of course I want that!” The percentage would plummet, though, if we asked the same people how many actually do hear Him on a regular basis. Why is that?

Some, unfortunately, have been indoctrinated with the false notion that God no longer speaks to us personally. Others have never been taught how to recognize the voice of God. Still others have bought into the lie that they are unworthy to hear God, that they are some kind of second-class believers in God’s eyes. The truth is, God has promised in hundreds of verses throughout the Bible to help us know His will for our personal lives, to give us wisdom and revelation, and that we will know His voice.

John 8:47 says, “He who is of God hears God’s words; you, therefore, do not hear them because you are not of God.” That means, if you love Jesus, you can hear God. You may not recognize that He is speaking to you, but He really is, and having trouble hearing Him is fixable. If you need some help in recognizing how He is speaking to you, I’ve written an article series on the subject. You will also find that information in my book, Hotline to Heaven: Hearing the Voice of God.

Besides simply not discerning that God is already speaking to us, there may be specific hindrances getting in the way — things we can do something about.

We aren’t giving God the quality time He desires to spend with us. Time is one of God’s love languages. James 4:8 promises us, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you….” He speaks to those who make Him their priority. Yes, He can and does communicate with us at random moments throughout the day. But we are more likely to hear Him then if we have already cultivated a listening ear during a time set aside solely for intimate waiting on Him.

You might be thinking, “I don’t have the first idea how to wait on God.” Here are some suggestions to help you:

  • Choose a Bible verse, read it over and over, and ask God to speak to you through it. You’d be surprised at all the new insights you will get as you do that.
  • Ask God questions. Then give Him time to answer you. He may not speak immediately. He might pop the answer into your thoughts later in the day, or even months down the road, but at least you have given Him the opportunity. I have found that God often doesn’t volunteer what we want to know: He waits for us to ask.
  • Think about Jesus.
  • Think about a character quality of God — His mercy, His goodness, His faithfulness, His justness, His purity.  Then praise Him for that quality.
  • Peacefully pray in tongues. As you do that, the Holy Spirit will often bring inspired thoughts, including interpretation of what you are praying, to your consciousness.

Our brain cells are overloaded with other things. Too much news media, social media, video games, or other ear and eye stimulators can so preoccupy us that it is really hard to hear the Lord above all the noise.

Wrong motives for wanting to hear God. Do we spend quiet time with God because we love Him, or only because we want revelation? That’s a selfish motive. It becomes all about us and what we can get out of God, instead of about giving ourselves to Him.

Sinful heart issues harden us to His voice. If we deliberately ignore what He is saying to us, rebelliously do something other than what we know He is directing us to do, or willfully live in sin, His voice becomes gradually fainter. God may even eventually quit speaking. He usually continues to speak for a while before that happens, trying to turn us back in the right direction. And, because He is so merciful, if He can’t reach us by speaking through other avenues, He will still try to turn us from our wrong ways through our circumstances. Remember Balaam and the angel who stood in his way (Numbers 22).

The good news is, even if the Lord has become silent, once we repent, the lines of communication open up again. I didn’t quote all of James 4:8 a little earlier. There is a condition for hearing attached to the rest of the verse: “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” Repentance goes a long way toward restoring and clarifying our hearing.

While never hearing God is not normal and should be examined for the reason, it’s important to know that every Christian goes through periods when God seems to be silent, through no fault of ours. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we are out of God’s will or doing something else wrong. These are times of growing in faith by learning to trust God in the silence. God uses silent seasons to cause us to seek more diligently for Him. They are a normal part of Christian life. But they are temporary. Continue seeking His company and listening for Him. He will eventually begin speaking again.

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Praying in the Dark

A concept I love and teach is that intercessors should endeavor to be sharpshooters in prayer. That’s why Annie Oakley graces the cover of my book, The Intercessor Manual.

The idea is that, rather than forging ahead in prayer according to our own limited thinking, we should listen to the Holy Spirit for how to pray. We pray from the details He gives us, rather than plowing ahead without His counsel and dancing all around and over a prayer topic, without a clue as to what God’s take is on the situation. Specific prayers inspired by the Spirit hit the target and get specific answers.

Now, that’s all fine and dandy, but what happens when we wait upon the Lord, and He still doesn’t seem to give us any light on the subject? You know, that happens to me a lot. A lot!

I’d like to share a few thoughts with you on how to handle praying when the light is dim or nonexistent.

Be faithful in waiting upon God and inquiring of Him. God honors our sincere attempts to hear Him. If He’s not speaking, it’s not necessarily your fault. People have sometimes chastised me for not hearing God on given subjects. The accusation is that, if you’re not hearing and other people are (or supposedly are), that means you are just not listening, or are refusing what God is surely saying. Maybe … maybe not!

We don’t all have the same realm of prayer influence. God shares one secret with a few, and still another secret with a different set of people. That is the way He works.

Don’t let anybody guilt you for not hearing from God on any given subject. It’s good to ask the Lord, “Am I resisting what You want to speak? If so, please reveal to me where my attitude is wrong.” But if you are truly seeking Him, that’s all you can or need to do. You can’t make God speak.

Keep on waiting upon the Lord with the questions you have. It takes time to hear Him. He may not be ready to speak. He may want to see how badly you want His counsel. He may simply treasure your diligent waiting upon Him.

Take tentative prayer steps and then expect Him to lead. Sometimes I have to confess to the Lord, “I don’t have the foggiest idea how to pray into this. It is too big for me! Please lead me as I go.” Then I take the first step in prayer, often in my prayer language. Many times, within moments, He takes over and leads me into prayer paths I never would have expected to go down. It doesn’t always happen that quickly. I could spend weeks or even months feeling my way along, praying in tongues a lot, and praying in English only tiny tidbits of understanding I receive.

Don’t try to sharpshoot based on your opinions. A lot of folks are doing this, and they are not praying God’s will. Don’t assume that your strong opinion must be God’s perspective too. It might not even be close. If it’s not from Him, it’s not going to hit the target, no matter how hard you try, and you will end up disappointed because the Lord didn’t come through for you.

If you desire to pray God’s counsel, He will get you there. Have confidence that, if you are doing your best to hear Him, He will adjust your understanding along the way. Stay sensitive for any uneasy checks in your spirit about how you are praying. If you do, He will steer any mistaken prayers back on course.

At times we have to pray immediately, because there is no time to wait. Just do it, calling on the name of Jesus, having faith that He will assist you and make up for any inadequacies in your understanding. God is not fussy about whether we use the right words. He sees the intent of the heart, and He has compassion on our limitations.

Don’t be surprised if the Spirit leads you down a side trail. This is common for me. I start out praying into a specific topic, and the Lord shows me side issues — still connected with the original matter — that are important to Him (but definitely not the same focus I started out praying into). It’s OK, if that happens to you. Have faith that these tangents are important to the Lord, and that’s why you end up praying about them.

Prayer in tongues will always get you through. You can have confidence that you are breaking things open and changing circumstances, even if you aren’t completely sure how to pray or what the outcome should be. The Holy Spirit knows what is needed.

Don’t use tongues, however, as your lazy man’s way out of hearing the Lord. We should still ask for understanding and expect to receive it. The same Paul who said, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than you all” (1 Corinthians 14:18) also said, “If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What should I do then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also …” (1 Corinthians 14:14, 15).

There is a time for sharpshooting and a time to throw grenade-like prayers. Different situations require different kinds of prayer volleys. This type of intercession won’t be nearly as specific in details as the sharpshooting prayer. We still want to make sure we aim it in the right direction, though! Both types of prayer should involve using Scripture as the firepower. This one may utilize larger doses of that firepower.

I hope the ideas I have shared here will encourage you and help you persevere in going after the answers you seek.

 

The Intercessor Manual

Trouble Hearing God? This May Be Why.

ear trumpet

Sometimes when I ask intercessors what the Lord is speaking to them, they respond by telling me what they have read in an intercessor newsletter, at a prophetic website, or in a Christian issues op-ed column. Maybe it’s what they’ve seen on Christian TV or YouTube. They sincerely think that what they are sharing is what God is speaking to them, but in reality, they are only regurgitating the ideas and opinions of others. Some are consistently unable to relate what God is showing them personally.

I wondered why that was, so I inquired of the Lord, and this is what I felt He was showing me: Continual bombardment of our mind through the eye and ear gates dulls our spirit’s ability to recognize God’s still small voice.

The people I am speaking of are usually passionate Christians who are eager to learn all that they can about the Lord and what He is saying or doing in the earth today. They get multiple intercessor newsletters because they have a heart to pray into big things, and they want to keep on top of current events from a Christian perspective.  But their minds are in a constant swirl, forever trying to process and sort through the information overload being fed into them. And because their minds are constantly chewing on all the info they’ve consumed, it’s hard for them to slow down enough to hear what God is saying to them, deep down inside.

Now, I think most of us are prone to having difficulty with this. We’re smack-dab in the middle of the Information Revolution, after all. I’ve got an inquiring mind, and certainly want to learn all I can. And keeping up with what’s afoot in our world is important. But I find, for myself, that if I am going to hear God, I’ve got to discipline myself to severely limit the inflow from outside voices.

I’d much rather be able to hear from God firsthand than to hear it from someone else. Secondhand just isn’t quite as good. And, I’d much rather spend the majority of my intercession time following the Holy Spirit’s promptings than merely praying what somebody else tells thousands of people on their mailing list that we should all pray. (It isn’t wrong to pray directly from a newsletter; it just shouldn’t be the sum total of our intercessory prayer life.) We need one-on-one communication directly between our spirit and the Holy Spirit. It’s like the difference between fresh fruit and the canned stuff. Not the same. But if we only consume the canned version, we don’t even have a clue how good the fresh fruit is!

Shouldn’t we all listen to good teaching and preaching? Of course. Can’t God speak to us through prophets, preachers, intercessor leaders, and teachers? Yes. We need these wonderful people. I have a few really, really favorite teachers I love to listen to. I write books and this blog with the intention of  helping people grow in their Christian life, especially in their prayer and prophetic understanding. I would be SAD if y’all quit reading what I’ve got for you! But I’d be even sadder to find out anyone was reading my materials in place of spending precious time personally with the Lord in prayer and reading the Bible.  We need to spend time with Him, not only in reading or listening to what some fallible human has to say about Him.

So, how does one fix this and get into a place of hearing God firsthand? Start by slowing down and deliberately tuning out. Think of it as a detox. Maybe it’s going to mean deleting a few ministry e-mails without reading them. Maybe it will mean less time watching TBN or Daystar. Maybe it will mean setting aside a specific amount of time for watching/listening/reading every week and then not going over the predetermined limit.

Once you’ve got yourself slowed down by removing the brain circuitry overload, your spirit is going to be able to gradually take precedence over your mind. You can actually relax in prayer and take time to ask, “Lord what do You have to say today?” You can now fill those brain cells which used to be clogged up with thinking about all the stuff you read, saw, and heard with new thinking about something you read in the Bible, or God’s character, or just how beautiful Jesus really is. The new peace and quiet of mind makes it much easier for the Holy Spirit to be heard in your spirit, because you’ve removed the debris which has been getting in the way for so long.

That’s a good place to start, and from there, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll start hearing God clearly for yourself on a regular basis.