Listening is a complex art. Listening for God’s voice and hearing clearly is the most important communications we will ever have. When we listen attentively for God’s voice, He will reward us by speaking to us. The Bible says God rewards rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). He wants us to take time to seek Him and especially the time to listen for His voice.
As soon as you earnestly desire to hear His voice you will become aware of the many other voices that you also hear on a regular basis. Some of them include:
- Voice of religion
- Voice of tradition
- Voice of your parents (family)
- Voice of your heritage (ethnic group, language group)
- Your friends have a voice in your life
- Your music has a voice
- Your emotions have a voice
- Your thoughts have a voice
- Your education has a voice
- You age group (generation) have a voice
- The voice of the devil
There are at least four major voices that a Christian will hear within: their own voice, the voice of others, the devil’s voice, and God’s voice.
1> Your own inner voice…
What happens when you hear your own voice instead of God’s? The decisions that we often make originate from our belief systems. Mixed into our belief systems are our personal feelings. This is our own voice which includes our personal preferences and desires, such as whether or not we like pizza, or if we prefer shopping, motorcycles or cherry pie. These things are not wrong, but they are personal preferences, not necessarily the voice of God.
Sometimes we confuse our own desires with the voice of the Lord. Often our soul (thoughts and emotions) can feel under pressure if want something so badly that we confuse it with hearing from God. We must be very careful if we are hearing something that primarily caters to our own creature comforts and desires. God speaks in order to accomplish His will, not ours.
We quiet our own voice by dying to self. As Christians, we take up our cross and follow Christ. As we daily sacrifice a life of self-centredness for the sake of our Lord who laid down His life for us, we will be able to hear the voice of God more clearly.
2> Other people’s voices…
Rather than hearing God’s voice, we may also hear other people’s voices vying for our attention. These voices are not to be confused with those people who give us godly counsel. Instead, there are the voices we hear deep inside which have been placed there by persons who try to sell us their products or philosophies. These are the subconscious voices we have collected over time — the things we have been taught or experienced through life. Whenever these thoughts and opinions are hostile to the Word of God or distort the Word of God, we are told to demolish them (2 Corinthians 10:5).
The truth is that our histories (life stories) mold us, sometimes detrimentally. A middle-aged man told me that he felt he would never amount to anything because he had heard his father speak those words to him as a child. He had allowed this voice spoken years before to influence his life, rather than the voice of His heavenly Father who says, “I love you and I am pleased with you. I have a purpose for your life.”
What we have been told about ourselves and our world (what was reflected back to us even at a very early age) will become those things we believe about ourselves. If these beliefs are in disagreement with God’s truth, they are misbeliefs and distort our ability to hear from God clearly.
3> The voice of the enemy…
Contrary to popular opinion, the devil does not appear to us in a red jumpsuit with a long tail. He most often comes very slyly as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He may place thoughts into our minds that are contrary to God’s Word, or use well-meaning people to speak words that could water down our faith. The devil often quotes scripture and uses spiritual-sounding language. His goal is to confuse, entrap, and derail. He wants to get people to question God’s character and turn away from Him. He aims to confuse us and get us off track.
How often have you decided to get serious about studying the scriptures and a voice reminds you that you are hungry, or that there is a TV program you really want to watch, or chores that need to be completely immediately? Tell the devil the same thing that Jesus told him, “The scripture says, ‘Human beings cannot live on bread alone, but need every word that God speaks’” (Matthew 4:4 TEV). “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7-8).
But you can also hear God’s voice … more next time