what the Bible says about hearing God speak

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Hearing God speak

learning how to recognise God's voice

Side notes

All Bible references are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

[1] Isaiah 30:21
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

[2] Proverbs 3:5-7
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

[3] Jeremiah 14:14
And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.

[4] 2 Chronicles 18:21
And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’

[5] John 21:25
Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

[6] 1 Samuel 3:1-10
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. And the Lord called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”

[7] John 16:12-15
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

[8] Revelation 1:10
 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.

[9] Proverbs 29:1
He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.

[10] Hebrews 3:15
As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

[11] Joshua 1:18
“Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

[12] Psalm 119:89-112
Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants. If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life. I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts. The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your testimonies. I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad. Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word.I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules. I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word! Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord, and teach me your rules. I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law. The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts. Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart. I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.

[13] Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

[14] Galatians 5:25
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

[15] Exodus 3:1-4, 12:12-13
1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”

[16] Numbers 12:6-8, 22:21-33
12:6 And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”
22:21 So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. But God's anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the way as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. And the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand. And the donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field. And Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the road. Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side. And when the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she pushed against the wall and pressed Balaam's foot against the wall. So he struck her again. Then the angel of the Lord went ahead and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam. And Balaam's anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff. Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.” And the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?” And he said, “No.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face. And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me. The donkey saw me and turned aside before me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let her live.”

[17] Daniel 5:5, 22-28
5 Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace, opposite the lampstand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote.
22 “And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored. “Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

[18] Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.  And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

[19] John 8:6-8
This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.

[20] Acts 9:3-6
Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”

[21] Revelation 1:12-18
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

[22] Exodus 23:20-22
“Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. “But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.”

[23] Ezekiel 3:10
Moreover, he said to me, “Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears.”

[24] Luke 9:44-45
 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

[25] 1 Samuel 23:11-12
Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.” And the Lord said, “He will come down.” Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the Lord said, “They will surrender you.”

[26] Isaiah 48:17
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.

[27] Hebrews 12:10
For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.

[28] Hebrews 3:7-19
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

[29] Revelation 3:19-21
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’” Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”  For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

[30] Revelation 3:3
Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.

[31] Acts 3:19
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,

[32] 1 John 1:5-10
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

[33] Genesis 12:1-5
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan.

[34] Acts 13:2-3
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

[35] Genesis 19:15-22
As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords. Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!” He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

[36] Matthew 2:13-15
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

[37] 2 Timothy 2:15, 3:14-16
2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness..

[38] Proverbs 27:6, 9
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.

[39] James 3:13
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.

[40] Ecclesiastes 3:11
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

[41] Galatians 5:25
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

[42] Romans 13:1-7
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

[43] 1 Peter 2:13-17
Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

[44] Esther 6:1-14
On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king's young men who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” And the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king's palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. And the king's young men told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.” So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?”  And Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king's most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’”  Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king's gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.” Then Mordecai returned to the king's gate. But Haman hurried to his house, mourning and with his head covered. And Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.” While they were yet talking with him, the king's eunuchs arrived and hurried to bring Haman to the feast that Esther had prepared.

[45] Genesis 3:8-10
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

[46] 1 Samuel 3:4-9
Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. And the Lord called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

[47] Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

[48] Luke 10:40
But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

[49] 1 Samuel 14:18-19
So Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here.” For the ark of God went at that time with the people of Israel. Now while Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”

[50] Ephesians 4:18-19
They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

[51] Daniel 12:8
I heard, but I did not understand. Then I said, “O my lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?”

[52] Proverbs 28:9 tlb
God doesn’t listen to the prayers of those who flout the law.

[53] 1 Samuel 15:10-23
The word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night. And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.”  And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.” Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me this night.” And he said to him, “Speak.”  And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?”  And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”  And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

[54] Zechariah 7:11-13
But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the Lord of hosts. “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the Lord of hosts..

[55] James 1:5-8
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

[56] James 4:1-3
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

[57] Exodus 5:1-2 nlt
After this presentation to Israel’s leaders, Moses and Aaron went and spoke to Pharaoh. They told him, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Let my people go so they may hold a festival in my honor in the wilderness.” “Is that so?” retorted Pharaoh. “And who is the Lord? Why should I listen to him and let Israel go? I don’t know the Lord, and I will not let Israel go.”

[58] Isaiah 45:9-11
“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’” Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: “Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?

[59] John 14:13-14
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

[60] 2 Kings 4:27
And when she came to the mountain to the man of God, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came to push her away. But the man of God said, “Leave her alone, for she is in bitter distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.”

[61] 2 Chronicles 32:31
And so in the matter of the envoys of the princes of Babylon, who had been sent to him to inquire about the sign that had been done in the land, God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart.

[62] Deuteronomy 3:26
But the Lord was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me. And the Lord said to me, ‘Enough from you; do not speak to me of this matter again.

The art of communication is difficult. We all have had to combat misunderstandings and faced discouragement. We all have had cause to regret words spoken out of turn, and faced touchy reactions from those whom we thought would understand and allow our mistakes.

There are four stages by which communication between two people can break down – what the first person thinks he says, what he actually says, what the listener actually hears, and what he thinks he hears!

To add confusion to the whole issue, not only can communication break apart so easily between two people, but what happens when there are more than two voices clamouring for our attention? Everything that produces sound needs some sort of interpretation, be it the deep roar of an aeroplane flying overhead, the gentle hiss of an office photocopier, or the strident scream of an ambulance passing by.

These intrusions are temporary, however, and fade into insignificance when compared with the importance of discerning between the voices that have the most important and long lasting impact upon our lives. There are really only three that matter most – God, ourselves and Satan. Isaiah 30:21[1], Proverbs 3:5-7[2], Jeremiah 14:14[3], 2 Chronicles 18:21[4]

 

Voice 1 – Satan

This being is of high intelligence and has great oratory skill. He has underneath him an army of unknown number that obeys his every dictate. He is totally depraved and seeks always our destruction and misery. He is strident and relentless in his demands upon his subjects. He is empty of all positive character traits such as (to name only a few) mercy, love, faithfulness, honour, pity and justice. He is also a liar. This does not mean that he never tells the truth, but it does mean that we can never be sure which is truth and which isn’t.

 

Voice 2 – Ourselves

We have varying levels of intelligence and not particularly great oratory skills! We have within us two natures (provided we are genuinely born again into the family of God), one of which is depraved and strives to follow its old master – Satan, and the other which is refreshingly new, but too often, immature, and has its desires set on following its master – God.

 

Voice 3 – God

This Being is total in intelligence, total in love, total in purity, total, in fact, of everything that is good and righteous and trustworthy. His is a gentle voice, often unheard except in the quietness of solitude. He neither demands nor raises his voice, but rather desires mutual respect and friendship. He too is relentless, but only in seeking our best.

Presuming we are true Christians, this last voice is the one most needing our attention and listening ear.

Have you ever considered how frustrated God must become at times as he strives to get his message across to us? How does an infinite God; one who simply spoke millions of galaxies of stars into being; one who has no beginning and no end; one who is totally wise and totally full of knowledge; how does a God like this cram all that he wants and needs to say into a book (we call it the Bible) of perhaps 1300 pages? John 21:25[5]

What is more, out of his love, he has our career, partner, and place to live, church, all planned and prepared for us to enjoy and be blessed by. And yet we miss his directions time and time again. We get angry with him, angry with ourselves and often simply give up.

Truly the art of communication is a difficult one.

So, how do we learn God’s voice?

In a word – practice!

The Bible teaches that to start in the Kingdom of God we have to be born into his family. Now you know as well as I do that a new-born baby does not enter into instant understanding of parental goo and gaga! In fact he/she takes a while to even focus in the general direction of the doting voice. Over time, however, though often through trial and error, baby learns to identify the voice of a parent, and, eventually, the substance of what is being said by the parent. So it is with God. It takes practice (and usually a good deal of trial and error), to become skilled at identifying and understanding the voice of our heavenly Father. But it can be done.1 Samuel 3:1-10[6]

There are two prerequisites necessary to even getting started with God:

  1. We must believe that he both wants to and is able to speak loud enough for us to hear him. John 16:12-15[7], Revelation 1:10[8]
  2. We must be willing to listen and be obedient to his message when we do hear him, otherwise why should he waste his time? Proverbs 29:1[9],
    Hebrews 3:15[10]

Assuming that we accept these two criteria, we then need to be expectant and alert towards his approach and the means by which he will communicate.

I believe there are three stages to being successful in hearing God – discovering, discerning and deciding.

 

Stage 1 – Discovering

Suppose a busy housewife has her pet cat in the kitchen. It may start meowing, but because of her concentrating on cooking the meal or perhaps washing some dishes, she fails to notice for quite some time. At some point, however, she becomes aware that this animal is trying to say something to her. That is what I call the point of discovery. The cat may have been meowing for some time, but the housewife has only just heard it. If she stops to reflect, she may realise that the meowing has been going on for some time, but because she had subconsciously relegated its importance downward in her mind, its earlier calls for attention were ignored.

God can speak to us in many ways. His Bible is, of course, the most obvious and essential place to start. Joshua 1:8[11], Psalm 119:89-112[12] He has already caused over 30,000 verses to be penned for our blessing and is waiting to teach us so much through its reading. So why do we ignore it? Why should God bother to talk to us at all if we neglect to read what is already written?

He can speak to us through timing. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8[13], Galatians 5:25[14] Remember the story of Esther? If Haman (the bad guy in this story) had arrived in the King’s court just one minute later, what a different outcome may have resulted!

God can speak to us through a dream or face to face, by prophet or a burning bush. He can speak from the sky or by plagues, through an angel or a donkey. He can write on a wall or in the sand. Exodus 3:1-4, 12:12-13[15], Numbers 12:6-8, 22:21-33[16], Daniel 5:5, 22-28[17], Luke 1:26-38[18], John 8:6-8[19], Acts 9:3-6[20], Revelation 1:12-18[21]

God wants to communicate with us and he has the ability to do it any way he desires. The key is to believe that he wants to and therefore to be alert and expectant.

 

Stage 2 – Discerning

Let us go back now to the meowing cat in the kitchen. Its mistress stoops down and it finally has the attention it needs. The problem the housewife now faces, however, is to discern what the cat wants. Is it asking for food? Does it simply want a few strokes of affection? Or does it need to get outside in a hurry!

When we become aware that God is reaching through to us, we should take the time to listen carefully and fully understand his message. Exodus 23:20-22[22], Ezekiel 3:10[23], Luke 9:44-45[24] We know how frustrating it can be trying to communicate with people who persist in interrupting and finishing our statements for us, or who turn away even as we speak. We must be careful not to do the same thing with God.

His message may span only a few seconds, or it may take months to complete. It may come from one source, such as the Bible, or it could be completed from a number of sources. It may be as short as, “I love you”, or it may contain direction for a major part of our life. 1 Samuel 23:11-12[25] In English, just 2 words twice over! (You may care to also read Ezekiel chapters 2 – 5)

It can be fascinating when something the Lord is thought to be saying is suddenly reinforced by a flood of phone calls from friends who begin their conversation by saying, “The Lord has laid you on my heart recently and…….”! A vague interest in a certain issue or direction can suddenly be fanned into flame as every magazine or newspaper we pick suddenly appears to be headlining ‘that very issue’. Our daily study notes from the next week on are all on ‘that very issue’. Even the Pastor suddenly decides to preach about ‘that very issue’!

When these sorts of things happen, we should relax as we seek to learn what our Lord is trying to bring to us. God wants us to hear clearly. He is faithful, and will make sure we do understand, provided we are willing to act on what we hear.

We need to remember that even his rebukes and disciplines come from his heart of love. He wants his best for us – an awesome thought to consider. Isaiah 48:17[26], Hebrews 12:10[27], Revelation 3:19-21[28]

 

Stage 3 – Deciding

With our friend the cat, the decision made will most probably be to pat it, feed it, or open the door for it.

The appropriate response to God’s voice will depend on the topic of the particular communication. If God is declaring his love for us or encouraging us in some way, then little probably needs to be done except to bask under his approval!

If we perceive a rebuke or correction, we will obviously be wise to heed it. Hebrews 3:7-19[29], Revelation 3:3[30]
It is important to note that God will convict of sin in order to bring us to repentance and to set us free from guilt. Acts 3:19[31], 1 John 1:5-10[32] Satan, however, will bring conviction in order to condemn and keep us at all costs in a place of un-repentance, so ensuring our stay in guilt and bondage.

A communication from God may contain guidance or direction that will affect not only us as individuals, but the lives of others. Genesis 12:1-5[33], Acts 13:2-3[34] We may be led to change jobs, move house, emigrate to another country, or any of many directions significantly major. God is rarely in a hurry, so beware of any messages that demand urgent response. Satan wants us to ‘act without thinking’ and will often pressure us into making quick decisions. If God has an urgent message, such as at a time of imminent danger, he will make contact so clearly that we will be unable to miss the point! Genesis 19:15-22[35], Matthew 2:13-15[36]

In any major perceived guidance from God, if unsure as to what to do next, may I suggest 3 aides?

  1. The Bible. 2 Timothy 2:15, 3:14-16[37] This has to be the one guaranteed way to clear up many uncertainties and protect from counterfeit guidance. There is no way, for example, that God will encourage us to steal, sleep around, criticise, or build an idol (despite what some have tried to tell me)!
  2. Good friends. Proverbs 27:6, 9[38], James 3:13[39] These are the sort of people who love us enough to tell us off, and correct us if we’re wrong. They are also best to be friends who have a good relationship with God and a working knowledge of Scriptural principles.
  3. The timing. Ecclesiastes 3:11[40], Galatians 5:25[41] The correct timing is absolutely essential. If, for example, God were to ask us to shift to another location, would it not be reasonable to expect that he have a suitable place ready for us? Now, he is not likely to have that next place sitting empty for who knows how long waiting for us to decide when to shift. Is it not more likely that he would cause our next home to become available for us at just the right time?

Let me bring a simpler illustration. The parking space prayer! We all try this one! If we are in the habit of speeding, we should not expect God to find us a parking space ‘just as we arrive’. The Bible requires that we obey the laws of the land, Romans 13:1-7[42], 1 Peter 2:13-17[43] and God certainly works according to his own Biblical principles, therefore his provision of the right parking space depends on our co-operation in keeping within the speed limits. I can give personal testimony to many occasions witnessing a car pulling out from where I wanted to park – either just as I approached or just after I passed, depending on whether I stayed within the speed limit or whether I sped and even perhaps crashed an amber traffic light! Food for thought indeed! There are many examples in the Bible of timing being critical to God’s plans; sometimes even minutes have counted. Esther 6:1-14[44]

 

Summary

Input into our lives will come primarily from any of 3 areas: God, Satan or ourselves.

Discovering that communication is under way is important whatever the source. That discovery may or may not, however, reveal the source.

Discerning the content, scope or direction etc. of any communication is also important whatever the source. This stage should, however, at least begin to expose the source of the message.

Deciding what to do with the message is vital and should fully identify its validity and trustworthiness. If God has spoken we need to be receptive and obedient. If our own heart has spoken we need to hold on to that which is good and discard that which is not good. If Satan has spoken we need to not only discard the message, but we need to find out why he was able to communicate in the first place, and we need to act appropriately to close the door on him.

Seven times in the Bible book of Revelation, Jesus says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.” NIV

We would do well to practice listening!

 

Here is a shortlist containing some 18 reasons why we may not seem to hear God’s voice.

  1. We are afraid of hearing God. Adam and Eve – Genesis 3:8-10[45]
  2. We don’t recognise God’s voice. Samuel – 1 Samuel 3:4-9[46]
  3. We have wrong expectations as to what God may say to us (just as we expect doctors, dentists, policemen to say certain things!). Jeremiah – Jeremiah 29:11[47]
  4. We are too busy to listen to God. Martha – Luke 10:40[48]
  5. We are too impatient to wait for God to speak. Saul – 1 Samuel 14:18-19[49]
  6. We don’t care what God may say. Ephesians 4:18-19[50]
  7. We hear but don’t understand what God is saying (rather like trying to understand a foreign language). Daniel – Daniel 12:8[51]
  8. We are disobedient to what is already revealed. Proverbs 28:9[52]
  9. We are rebellious. Saul – 1 Samuel 15:10-23[53]
  10. We are stubborn; we want our own way. Zechariah 7:11-13[54]
  11. We don’t expect God to speak to us. James 1:5-8[55]
  12. We have wrong motives for wanting God to speak. James 4:1-3[56]
  13. We don’t want to hear God speak. Pharaoh – Exodus 5:1-2[57]
  14. We challenge what God says. Isaiah – Isaiah 45:9-11[58]
  15. We are not specific in conversation. John 14:13-14[59]
  16. God sometimes hides information from us. Elisha and Gehazi – 2 Kings 4:27[60]
  17. God sometimes stays silent to test us. Hezekiah – 2 Chronicles 32:31[61]
  18. God may have nothing more to say on a subject. Moses – Deuteronomy 3:26[62]

Lord bless

 

This paper seeks to accurately represent the teachings of Holy Scriptures. You are free to copy or alter all or any part of this paper PROVIDED that the Holy Scriptures are not misrepresented as a result.