In a world of media, noise and things that compete for our attention, hearing God’s voice at any time is difficult enough. As I have shared before, I believe that God is always speaking to us, we sometimes, are just not listening. Although it is important to position yourself to hear from God, the question still is: how in challenging times, like those we are facing now, do you discern what is really the voice of God?
Elijah found himself in challenging times in 1 Kings 19:11-13, he had run away, and God had given him rest, for he was tired, depressed and discouraged. Now that he was rested, God wanted to speak to Elijah.
God always wants to speak to us.
When we want to discern the voice of God, this is how we can go about it:
- Position yourself IN the Presence of God: God tells Elijah to travel to Mount Horeb, where God usually speaks. There he waits in a cave, and when he hears the silence, Elijah goes out to hear from God. You have to go from where you are in the world and the busyness of life, to where God speaks, the mountaintop, where it is quiet. You have to remove yourself from the world, “go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matt 6:6) Young Samuel in 1 Sam 3:3-4, was well-positioned to hear from God in a season when God had been very quiet. He positioned himself close to the ark of God, which represented the presence of God in the tabernacle. The closer we are to God, the more likely we are going to be hearing from Him.
Be quiet before God: Sometimes we are so busy telling God our agenda, our needs etc. and then we cut Him off with our “amen.” Elijah didn’t go out in the wind, earthquake and fire (the media and noise of the world around us), he quietened himself because God speaks in a gentle whisper. “Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10). When we are still, we quieten ourselves in His presence; the ME is silenced so that God can speak. If we are going to do all the talking, what’s the point of praying. This is why early mornings in God’s presence can be so meaningful before the hustle of the day starts.
Intentionally block out competing voices: Elijah pulls the hood over his head, he is intentional about blocking out other voices, so that he can hear the voice of God. It goes without saying that noise, media and our cell phones compete for our attention, but there are two other voices we need to watch out for. One voice to block out is the voice of the devil, who always has an agenda that contradicts God and discredits His voice (John 10:10). He will cause you, like Eve, to question what God says: ”Did God really say…” The more time you spend in God’s presence, the more you will be able to discern between the devil’s voice (lies) and God’s voice (truth).
We also need to block out one other voice intentionally, the sound of ME. God’s voice often sounds like our own voice, but is usually self-centered and promoting our own agenda. Look at how Eve considered the fruit and thought to herself that it looked good. (Gen 6:5) Recognise that our voice is not saturated with the things of God. Once again, the more time we spend in the presence of God, the more we will be able to discern between our voice, and God’s.
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – C.S. Lewis – The Problem of Pain
The problem with difficult circumstances, pain, trials, much like what we are experiencing now, is that we despise them and look for quick relief or comfort, failing to listen for His voice and guidance through difficult times.
God speaks through His Word: When trouble walks in the door, our bibles often fly out the window. We neglect our bibles, neglect church and then wonder why we are not hearing from God. If your bible is always closed, it is illogical to expect God to talk to you. God sets the table for us IN the presence of our enemies (Psalm 23) which means He provides for our spiritual needs in His Word with a (Rhema) word for a season. If we neglect scripture in tough times, we effectively block out one way in which God can speak to us. Everything we need for life is in scripture, get into the Word.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16-17)
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” (Isaiah 30:21)
Father, thank you that You are always speaking to us and that we can be confident that You hear our prayers and petitions. Help me to position myself to hear from You and let me not neglect simple things that would help me discern Your voice in my life. Help me to put myself in Your presence regularly, away from the busyness and noise of my world, in a quiet and reflective spot. Help me to be still and know You, mindful to listen for your voice. Help me to discern your voice, to consider my circumstances, examining what You may require from me. Help me to seek Your guidance in Your Word. Thank you for Your word, which gives me everything I need for life, let me not neglect time in my bible. Thank you that I can rely on and trust Your guidance for my life.