“Is something wrong with me? I can’t seem to hear him!”
This struggle is quite common. It often follows the insistence that if you just try hard enough, you will hear the Savior’s voice. And who doesn’t want that? After all, Heavenly Father said of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son: hear him” (Mark 9:7).
Some Try Talking
Some try through prayer. The hope is that if they are constantly talking to God, they will hear him. So, they pray fervently and frequently. The Bible says, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), so they do so almost literally.
God encourages us to turn to him in prayer at all times and for all occasions. However, if we are only talking to him, then the conversation is one-sided. It’s like that friendly neighbor who never lets you get a word in edgewise. Prayer alone is not a two-sided dialogue, so you’re still left yearning to hear him.
Others Just Listen
Another approach is not to speak at all. They who try this approach empty their mind through meditation and listen in the hope that they will hear him. Some may even claim to receive some kind of prompting. But how can they know for sure if it comes from the Lord?
We’re influenced by the voice of the sinful world around us more than we’d like to admit. It is so pervasive, it can be difficult to detect. Any voice could be the result of those pressures.
When we empty ourselves to listen, the enemy, Satan, is eager to fill that void. Any inner voice could unsuspectingly be “Satan himself transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). He would be the last voice we would want to listen to!
We may be listening to our own heart. Rather than reliable, Scripture tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). While it is a popular sentiment today, we know from experience that following the voice of the heart can lead us astray.
Simply listening within ourselves is filled with flaws. How, then, can we hear him?
Go Straight to the Source
God encourages us to go straight to the source. The words recorded in the Bible come directly from the mouth of God (2 Timothy 3:16), so you can be sure he’s talking. Unlike other sources, when you listen to these words, you can be sure they are true (John 17:17). This allows you to hear him with certainty!
In fact, as you spend more time in the Bible, you’ll recognize his voice on those pages even more. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).
Pause to consider the beauty of this picture. Sheep are helpless. They get easily lost. It’s not uncommon for wandering sheep to climb down the edge of a cliff in search of grass and get into a situation they cannot climb out of. Sheep are completely dependent on their shepherd.
Yet, sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd. He knows them each personally. He cares for them each day. At times, he has rescued them and carried them home on his shoulders. They trust him and listen to his voice because of the love he has already shown.
The True Test
Here is a simple way to “test the spirits whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1). If it doesn’t agree with what God has already spoken in the Bible, it’s not to be trusted. If the voice you’ve been listening to tells you to look within yourself, follow your feelings or keeps putting more pressure on you to “try harder” or “do better” in order to gain his favor, you’re not listening to your loving Shepherd.
Go straight to the source in the words of the Bible. Your Shepherd speaks directly to you on those pages. When you stumble in sin, he picks you up and forgives you. He gives eternal life and promises to carry you safely home. He never asks you to win his love because, with Jesus as your perfect substitute, you already have it. Listen to the voice of your loving Shepherd in the Bible, and you will know with certainty that you hear him.
Here are some great chapters to read this week to hear him:
- Luke 15 – God’s loving heart for lost sheep
- John 10 – The Good Shepherd
Where do you turn in times of trouble?
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