Do You Know God’s Voice?
Do you know God’s voice? Can you hear him speak to you? Knowing the voice of the Shepherd is a big part of being a Christian. Jesus says so himself.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. – John 10:27-28
In order to follow Jesus you have to know his voice. Now I believe that God speaks to his people in a variety of ways. You don’t hear a voice from above all (or any) of the time. He speaks through his word, his people, your circumstances, and through prayer. All of this is done by the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet we miss his voice all of the time.
Why We Can’t Hear
The reason why so many people struggle to follow Jesus is because they have a hard time hearing his voice. There are many reasons why we don’t hear Jesus speak to us. One reason is we are constantly bombarded with other noises screaming for our attention. We are so concerned about jobs, and bank accounts, the test next week, or getting our kids to their soccer match that we miss out on hearing from the Shepherd.
Another reason we don’t hear the voice of the Shepherd is because we don’t expect to hear his voice. Why would the God of the universe want to speak to me? I am just a normal person, nothing special about me. But God loves us and wants an intimate relationship with us. Intimacy comes from communication. He wants to speak to us. He wants us to know him.
Finally, we don’t hear his voice because we don’t recognize it. He is speaking to us all of the time but because we never spend anytime listening we don’t recognize it when he does. If my phone rings, if I don’t look at the caller ID before I pick it up and answer it – chances are I won’t have a clue who is on the other line. But if when I say hello I hear my wife answer back “Hey honey” – I know exactly who it is! I know it is her because I have spent years listening to her voice. I know what she sounds like and how she talks to me. It fills my heart with joy.
The same is true with God. The more time we spend listening to him, the more we will recognize and hear his voice. The more we recognize and hear his voice, the more likely we are to follow him. This should fill our hearts with joy.
Do You Have Four Hours?
Do you? Laying around somewhere in your calendar do you have four hours in a row? I hear you laughing now. No way! I bet you do though. I bet you have four continuous hours that you can put aside for God. It might be on a Tuesday night and you ask your husband to take the kids. It might be on a Saturday morning before you tackle the yard work. But, I promise you that you can find four straight hours.
You see, you make time for what is important to you. I love baseball. The problem with baseball is the games are pretty long. If I have the time to sit and watch a game, I have the time to spend with God. What I am asking is for you to spend four hours sitting and listening to God. Four hours away from everything but God. Not being bombarded with noise, but expecting to hear from God, and listening for his voice. I have recently made this a part of my routine and it has changed my walk with the Lord. I am not looking for specific answers, just want to sit and listen. I want to be open to what he is saying. It has helped me to hear the voice of the Shepherd. What does that look like? Glad you asked.
Ask God To Search You
Psalm 24 is my favorite Psalm.
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. – Psalm 24:3-4
The problem with that is on my own I have dirty hands and a dead heart. This is why the last part of the Psalm is so awesome.
Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle. – Psalm 24:7-8
When we open up the gates of our hearts to the King of glory we are given clean hands and a pure heart. We are changed. We can ascend the hill of the Lord. Unfortunately, though we are saved for eternity we live for this world sometimes. We are saints for sure, but sometimes we live like sinners. Because of the sin in the life of a Christian, the fellowship with our King can be broken. It is important to come to this time with the Lord asking him to search your heart and point out sin that needs to be confessed. When we confess, he is faithful and forgives. The fellowship is restored and we are able to hear from him.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! – Psalm 139:23-24
Use The Word
Christian meditation is different than other forms of religious meditation. The goal in other meditations is to empty your mind. The goal of Christian meditation is to fill your mind with the things of God (Colossians 3:2). When we are listening for the voice of God is imperative that we line up everything with God’s word. He has already revealed everything that he needs to reveal to us in the Bible. We have all we need for life and godliness. If what you believe the Lord is saying to you goes contrary to Scripture, it is your own thoughts or a bad taco. Run from it. Scripture is what we have that is more sure than all or our experiences and ideas (2 Peter 1:19). Bring your Bible and meditate on a passage. You will learn so much.
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. – Psalm 119:15-16
Find A Solitary Place
One of the main reasons that we have trouble hearing the voice of the Shepherd is because there are so many noises trying to distract us. We are connected to everything except the One that is really important. Have you ever left your cell phone at home? Was it the worst feeling in the world? We have to be connected at all times. If you are going to do this exercise you have to become disconnected from everything else. No phone, no email, you can’t even Instagram that you are spending four hours with God. Find a place that doesn’t have a ton of car traffic or activity going on. It could be your backyard. It could be a park. You might even decide to drive to the beach for the day. Get to a place with little distraction and get to listening.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. – Mark 1:35
If Jesus did it we should too.
Don’t Give Up
When I do this it takes me forever to clear my mind. I am thinking about all sorts of things. My mind goes to bills that need to be paid, 80’s hair band lyrics, or what I want to eat for dinner. I can spend an hour just trying to focus. It is good to get all of that stuff out of your mind so you can concentrate and fill your mind with the things of God. The key is to keep going. Continue to remember why you are doing what you are doing. You want to hear the voice of the Shepherd. Sometimes this takes a while because our minds have been full of a ton of things that distract us. Sit until you are ready to listen. I had someone recently say that they start every prayer with “Father”. They don’t say another word until they hear God say, “yes, my son”. If we would all be so slow to speak so that we can hear from our Father who loves us.
But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. – Deuteronomy 4:29
Bring A Pen
I do not journal a ton, though I wish I did. Writing though can help encourage thinking and help in remembering. I believe that God can fill your mind as you fill a page. Bring something to jot down prayer requests, verses in the Bible, or anything else that God is trying to reveal to you. You might not understand now, but if you come back to what you wrote down a couple of days or weeks later, you just might then.
You Can Move
Sometimes it is good to go down a walking path or get out in nature. All of creation is declaring the glory of God (Psalm 19). Let it inspire you to think big thoughts about the creator. We don’t worship the creation, we see the beauty of the Creator. That leads us to worship him with our words, thoughts, and actions. Get up and walk around. Move. Spend time with God in his creation.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable. Isaiah 40:28
Praying that we would all take four hours, be silent, and listen to our Shepherd. O how our lives and our church would be changed for his Kingdom and Glory.
Thank you to Dr. Drew Ham of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary for pointing this out to me.