Tag Archives: hearing God’s voice

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

Holding the Line on Truth (Part 4)

deafchildLast time, we said that there are three uncomplicated, effective steps to keeping free, or getting free, of erroneous teaching. The first step was to read the Bible cover to cover, over and over. Here is Step #2:

Learn to listen to the Holy Spirit.

As you set aside time to listen for His voice, you will become more adept at hearing His checks and promptings. You will develop the ability to discern moment-by-moment what is from Him and what is not. (However, Step #2, listening to the Spirit, is not going to work if you ignore Step #1, reading the Word — because the Bible is still the primary, infallible way that the Holy Spirit speaks to us. Reading the Bible familiarizes us with how the Lord’s voice sounds, too.) When something makes you uneasy, learn to ask Him, “Lord, why am I feeling uncomfortable?”

A consistent, passionate prayer of mine is that the Spirit of Truth would continually adjust my beliefs and the beliefs of my loved ones, so that we increasingly come into perfect alignment with His doctrinal truth. John 16:13 promises, “When He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.” One of the Holy Spirit’s great ministries to the Church is found in John 14:26: “But the Comforter, Who is the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.”

When we are troubled by a “new” teaching, if we will take the time to ask the Holy Spirit to show us in the Word whether it is true or not, He will be faithful to do that. Sometimes He will immediately bring a verse to mind that settles the issue for us. Sometimes He will do it over a period of months, during our regular course of Bible reading, drawing our attention to particular verses which answer our questions.

I’ve had it work both ways — God either revealing the truth of a teaching or the falseness of it. He has shown me verses that refuted certain teachings that troubled me. He has also revealed to me truth that I was resisting because it was contrary to incorrect teachings I had grown up with and had never questioned. The point is, if we ask Him to impart truth to us, He will be faithful to do so. However, many of us are secretly afraid of the truth He might reveal, so we never ask.

The two steps we’ve looked at thus far — continually staying in the Word and listening for the Spirit — will take you a long way toward keeping free of false teaching. In addition, the two work harmoniously together: we cannot accurately understand the counsel of God’s Word without the Spirit’s enlightenment, while measuring everything we are hearing from the Lord by the infallible written Word ensures that we do not hear incorrectly.

Isaiah 8:16-17, 19-20 addresses the importance of the Bible as a measuring stick to detect false teachers and also the importance of waiting on the Lord to hear Him speak to us:

Bind up the testimony, seal the law [the Word] among my disciples. And I will wait upon the LORD … and I will look for Him.

And when they shall say to you, “Seek to them that have familiar spirits, and to wizards which peep and mutter: shouldn’t a people seek to their God? For the living to the dead?

To the law and to the testimony [the Word]: if they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them

Next time, we will look at our final step for keeping free of false teaching.

Holding the Line on Truth (Part 1) 
Previous: Part 3 
Next: Part 5 

A Simple Lesson in Listening

People often tell me that they have difficulty hearing God.  Many times the problem is not that we don’t hear Him, but that we don’t recognize the small ways He is speaking to us in our thoughts every day.  I’m going to share with you a recent experience from my own life, which is a practical example of hearing God’s voice and responding to it — both what I did right and what I did wrong.

One evening last week, a concern popped into my thoughts about our teenage daughter falling down the stairs which lead from her bedroom to the ground level of our house.  The stairs are a little steep and uncarpeted, and she often takes them in a hurry, so this would be a bit of a natural concern for me.  Because I tend to be in a flow of prayer most of the time, my natural response was to say a quick prayer for her safety and then move on. The next morning, several times, I again thought about the possibility of her falling down the stairs, and each time I prayed briefly that she would be safe on the stairs.  At one point I even thought, “I should probably caution her to be extra-careful on the stairs today” — and then I promptly forgot to do it. 

I dozed off during my prayer time that morning, and dreamed (always pay particular attention to doze-off dreams in prayer, because they are usually from God!) of an orange-colored box with an assortment of crackers pictured on the front, and in the dream, I knew that the cracker box belonged to our daughter.  I wrote the dream down, but I had a busy day ahead of me, so I didn’t take the time I should have to ponder the dream.

That evening, my daughter fell down nearly the entire flight of stairs.  She got a little  banged up, but, much to our thankfulness, she was not seriously injured.

Let’s take apart what happened — what went right and what went wrong.  As the thought repeatedly came to mind about her falling down the stairs, I quite naturally prayed for her safety.  So far, so good.  I am absolutely certain that those repeated prayers saved her from serious harm.  However, it never fully hit my consciousness that it was the Lord speaking to me about a danger.  I didn’t think, “Oh! God is speaking! I’d better pay attention!”  I didn’t hear Him say, “Your daughter is going to meet with an accident if you don’t pray for her.”  It was just my natural response to pray about the thoughts I was having, because continual prayer communication with the Lord has become a habit.

Where I went wrong was in not paying better attention than I did, because if I had, we probably could have avoided the stairs incident entirely.  I didn’t listen closely enough to the thought that I should warn my daughter to be careful.  Hence, I didn’t follow through on it.

I also did not pay attention to the dream — until after the accident.  Do you know what orange can symbolize in dreams?  Danger.  The various crackers?  Broken or “cracked” bones.  The dream had indicated that the orange box of crackers belonged to our daughter.   Hindsight is a great teacher, and I may not have understood the crackers’ significance ahead of time, but the orange = danger connection I could have picked up on, especially with what had already been going on in my thoughts — IF I had been paying attention.

This experience became a lesson for me in listening to the Lord.  I am so very grateful that our daughter was kept from serious harm, and that at least I had prayed for her.  Those prayers were answered.  But not listening closely enough allowed some harm to occur.

Probably all of us are hearing from the Lord much more than we realize, and if we will practice tuning in carefully, we will catch a lot more of what He is saying.  He does not generally shout to make Himself heard.  Church bells do not ring and heavenly choirs do not sing to announce that God is about to deliver a message.  Many times, persistent thoughts, although they do not sound like “a voice,” really are from the Lord — especially if we have our minds prepared through much prayer and reading of Scripture.  Paul tells us that “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).

If we learn to recognize and respond to the subtle ways God speaks, He will give us ideas which will prosper and bless us, and He will also keep us from many sorrows.  I’ve learned a great lesson, and I hope my experience will help you as well.