People often ask me, “How can I hear God’s voice?” or “I used to hear God’s voice, but now I’m struggling, what can I do to hear His voice again?”
The truth is we can hear God’s voice because He wants a relationship with us much more than we want with Him. The best way to build a relationship is to listen & talk. God is a master communicator – but we’re in the process of growing and learning (just like children doing something for the 1st time). In another blog/ article and chapter in my book (which I’m still writing), I’ll cover how to hear God’s voice. But today, let’s look at the ten ways I think causes us to struggle to hear God’s voice.
1. We don’t give God the time or space to speak to us.
With so many demands on our time and different tech vying for our attention, it’s hard to find the time to step away and silence them. If you struggle to pull away from the draw of social media, perhaps finding even 15mins in a day where you go old school may help. Taking out a paper bible and journal in a quiet corner may be just what you need. Forming this as a regular habit will help you find a rhythm which includes God.
2. Sin – can be a barrier.
We may not like it, but it’s a thing.
“If I have cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” [Psalm 66:18] “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear.” [Isaiah 59:2].
Quickly check your heart and ask God if there is any sin you need to confess or thing you need to stop doing.
3. Shema – to listen and obey.
The Bible Project does a great video on this Hebrew word Shema, that brings to life something we miss in our English translations.
So is there something God has already spoken to you, but He’s waiting on you to obey it/ do it first before He talks to you about something else? Or are you hearing something that you don’t like/ want to obey so holding out for Him to change His made and say something else you’d prefer to do?
Ask yourself honestly, am I willing to hear God and obey what He says as I’ve submitted to making Him LORD of my life, or is this an area I’m holding out on? God loves us and has the best for us, but He loves us too much to allow us to say the way we are today. He wants to help us transform into being more Christ-like.
4. Wrong Expectations
We know God speaks in many ways, but we’d prefer Him to write it on a wall (like in Daniel 5), or in pictures like usual. But God loves to be creative and not use the same methods all the time. So is He speaking a verse, bringing a person or situation to mind instead? If we are only looking for one particular way, then we might be missing what is going on – this is called ‘Selective Attention’. (Check out this video to help you understand this concept more.)
Is this the right time for you to hear about that particular thing?
Jesus waited to go to Lazarus until after he died, John 10, much to the dismay of his disciples. But God wanted to do something bigger than heal a sick man – he wanted to raise him from the dead! Jesus was obedient to his Fathers timing.
Is there something else that God wants to speak to you about today? Have I submitted to His agenda plans for only willing to work off my schedule?
There are times when God will invite me to go on a walk with him or to sit and talk about my day. Nothing deep or ministry-related. He simply wants to hang out with me in some precious father-daughter time. Sometimes at the end of our time, He asks me what I wanted to find out about a specific thing. Other times I’m so enjoying our hangout time that it doesn’t matter how that problem will be solved. He cares more about me than what I do, so it’s not a surprise that our time together should also reflect this.
- Is there another reason lurking behind why you want to hear Him on a particular thing?
- Do I want others to think I’m more spiritual/ better than them?
- Do I want to prove I’m right and someone else is wrong?
- Do I not want to hear differently from others because I don’t want to stand out or go against popular opinions? Perhaps I like to say behind the scenes instead of speaking up?
Could one of these types of motives be hindering us from hearing God’s heart in this area?
8. UGB’s – Un-gody Beliefs
These are a statement we’ve spoken over ourselves that we now believe to be true about ourselves or others. But that doesn’t line up with God’s nature & character or what He says about us as a child of God — therefore it’s a lie.
Satan would love us to believe even little white lies as they hold us back from being our true selves in Christ or stop us moving forward in an area of our life.
Examples of UGB’s are:
- I’m not gifted enough to be able to hear God, that’s for other people
- I’m just making it up in my head
- God loves others more, so it’s ok that I don’t hear his voice or have as close a relationship with Him.
- It’s not an important enough thing to bother God about…
If you recognise any of these or something similar in your thinking/ beliefs about yourself or God – they are lies to stop you from going deeper with God.
So repent of believing that lie, ask God and Holy Spirit for a verse of scripture (truth) to replace this lie and speak that new truth over yourself. (you might need to do this for a season as an old habit can take time to get rid of).
9. My own ideas
Submitting our thoughts to God’s ways doesn’t mean we want to become like a robot only thinking what we’ve been told to believe. God values your ideas and opinions. But our human ideas/ views can be clouded with bias’/ prejudices towards a person/ people/ place or situation that doesn’t partner with God’s heart for them.
Or we have a more logical type brain that has a rational solution to a problem, so don’t need God’s help, but He has a resolution that may seem crazy, but He’s in it. Just think of Joshua’s plan to walk around Jericho many times to see it fall (Joshua 5+6).
When we submit our plans and ideas to God and allow the Holy Spirit to bring His creative solutions to the front, then we’re no-longer limiting God to our understanding or ideas. He sees the bigger picture and how it will work out in years to come.
Lastly, we look at un-forgiveness.
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” [Mark 11:25]
Or “..if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there … First, go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” [Matthew 5:23+24]
Taking a few minutes at the start to ask God if there is anything you need to put right with Him or others is good preparation — to deal with stuff clouding your heart & spirit from being fully right with God. If something comes to mind, ask God for forgiveness, or if it’s someone else – contact them immediately (if it’s convenient for them) or make a note to do as soon as possible.
Note – you are hearing from God, just not on the ‘thing’ you’d like to hear about from Him.
It may also mean that you need to forgive yourself. At times its easier to forgive someone else but we’re harsher on ourselves.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that what ‘Jonny’ did to you was ok. It probably wasn’t. Starting down a path of forgiveness (which is sometimes a process) means that you don’t want to be bound to them and thus chained yourself, thus stopping God coming to bring His healing and forgiveness. (I will probably do a post on this at some point too.)
So there you have it. My ten-point checklist of possible hindrances to you hearing God’s voice as clearly as you’d like.
Practice will also help you become better — not only hearing His voice but also what to do with it.
If you have any questions regarding what I’ve written here, please click – Ask Patience – and I’ll try to get back to you as soon as I can. Or you can comment below for a more public response.
If you have any other suggestions of areas to add to this list, I’m always open to hearing your thoughts.