The other day I walked into my husband’s office and started talking to him. I got a whole 2 sentences into the conversation before I realized he was wearing head phones, thus he heard absolutely nothing I said. My in laws were also staying with us and my mother in law walked in the room. I started the conversation over, this time my husband heard the message and my mother in law heard but did not understand because she does not speak the same language.
Our conversations with God are very much like this. We often have so much “other” input that we cannot hear God speaking. Or we hear God speaking but it is in another language and we do not understand. God wants us to be obedient to him. Many people understand this. Some people may even have a heart of obedience. The problem they often face is that they cannot hear or cannot understand God. Similarly we sometimes hear a message that sounds good and we take it as truth. We think we are listening to God when in fact we have been deceived.
We as individuals can attempt to train ourselves to listen to God’s voice. But we always need accountability and mentorship from others to help make sure we are not being deceived. For no person is perfect. Without this accountability and mentorship we will make mistakes.
So first things first how do we train ourselves to listen to God? For one we have to take the ear phones off. If you have a million things being inputted into your brain all at once then how are you going to hear what is God. You need space, quiet, solitude. I break the ear phones into 2 categories, external and internal. External things are like music, the tv, other people. The internal things are often related to intrinsic issues we have that may be significant enough to be labeled as mental illness depending on the severity. For me the input into my brain often comes from internal things. My brain is so TURN ON all the time that it does not require music, tv and yelling people to make it feel like I am in the middle of a war zone. I have had to learn ways to overcome this through psychotherapy, medication and physical activity that is repetitive. My husbands biggest problem is worries, he has an anxiety disorder and he cannot seem to make his mind stop worrying. This is his biggest barrier in which he has to work.
We have to learn to turn off the input into our brains. Without this it is like 10 people talking to you and God’s still quiet voice is somewhere in there but you will never be able to tell which it is.
Once you have trained yourself to be quiet in order to listen to have to learn how to hear. God can speak to us through anything. I mean anything. Nature, animals, books, people, sermons, etc. God is not limited to any one thing.
Once you have learned to hear God you have to know how to interpret it and confirm that what he think he is saying to you is indeed from God. This is where the Bible and accountability are essential. The Bible is like your lie detector test to confirm that what you are hearing is in line with God’s character, his commands and will. Accountability can help you navigate this especially if you do not feel confident in your knowledge of God’s character, commands and will.
To be a follower of Jesus we need to be able to hear his voice, listen to him, understand it then obey. Different people have different struggles with this process. Some people hear but do not listen. Some people cannot even hear. Others listen but do not understand. There are a million places that things can and do go wrong. Which area do you struggle? Do you even believe God can talk to you?