Chapter 9 – Hearing God


The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.

– John 10:3-5, NIV

Sometimes when we try to listen to God we can feel like we don’t hear anything, which can be frustrating – especially if we feel that we need an answer by a certain time. In an age of everything being instant and not having to wait long for anything, it seems absurd to us that we might have to WAIT for God to answer, and that He doesn’t always obey our timing. But who are we to tell God what to do or when to do it? Who are we to tell Him when to speak and when to listen to us? Who are we to tell Him how we want Him to speak to us? Who are we to be impatient with our Creator, and to get frustrated with Him for not always doing things in our own timing?

So may we surrender to God our frustration at sometimes not hearing His voice in the timing that we would like – not always getting immediate, clear answers from Him. When we surrender our frustration, the fruit of that surrender is the patience that He develops in us, giving us the ability to wait on Him.

Those who know God the best are the richest and most powerful in prayer. Little acquaintance with God, and strangeness and coldness to Him, make prayer a rare and feeble thing.

– Edward McKendree (E. M.) Bounds

In Isaiah 40:30-31 (KJV) God says, “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” What does it mean to wait on God, in an age of impatience? “Waiting” can mean doing nothing, being bored, and it CAN be frustrating at times when we do not want to wait or do not feel that we have enough time to wait. When I anticipate having to wait for something I often bring something that I can be doing while I’m waiting – either to be productive, to pass the time or simply to stop myself from becoming bored. When I was working in Uganda I was daily told by the pastor that he would come to pick me up at 10am to go to the crusade ground, but that usually meant 3 or 4pm. When I realised that this was a common theme and was going to happen every day I began teaching in the mornings in a school so as to have something useful to do while I was waiting to leave. However, waiting on God does not mean focusing on other things while expecting Him to turn up at some point – it means focusing on Him, even though sometimes He may not seem to say anything for a long time.

To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances; To seek Him, the greatest adventure; To find him, the greatest human achievement.

– Augustine

In 1 Kings 19 Moses went up the mountain to talk with God. He was given many opportunities towards distraction, such as great wind, earthquake and fire – but yet he still waited there for God to speak to him. Because he had patiently waited on God instead of giving up and leaving the mountain, God spoke to him powerfully in a quiet whisper, and he was able to hear the voice of God because he had been patiently waiting. He may have been frustrated at the fact that he was there up the mountain for a while and surrounded by the distractions of the weather and yet did not hear God’s voice at first – but because he stuck it out God spoke to him, and we still remember today the words that God spoke on that mountain. He was also up the mountain in the first place out of obedience to God’s call. May we surrender to God our priority of getting to know and hearing His voice. As Linda Schubert puts it, “God wants to speak to us more than we want to listen. He is a God of love, and love longs to communicate.”

In Exodus 19 and other chapters we see that God spoke to Moses when he went up the mountain, on a number of occasions. When we choose to come away from our everyday lives and take the time out simply to be with God, there He can speak powerfully to us because He knows that we are listening. There He teaches us how to hear Him. He speaks to us through other situations too, in everyday life and while going about our daily business, but only if we choose to be open to hearing His voice. When we put getting to know God personally as a priority in our lives, by spending time reading the Bible and interceding and talking openly with Him about what is on our mind, He gradually shapes us and molds us so that we are more and more able to hear and know His voice. What’s more, this priority and our time spent doing these things leads us to have the strength and the faith to believe or obey what He tells us when He does speak!

The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.

– Samuel Johnson

Sometimes we can spend what feels like a very long time “waiting on God” and still hear nothing from Him. Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting and praying and waiting on God, and He may have at times become frustrated with not hearing the Father’s voice as much as He might have liked to; not hearing Him every second of every day there – who knows. May we surrender to God how we feel when it seems like He is not speaking us.

May we surrender to God those times when we do not hear His voice, and ask Him how to deal with them. May we allow Himto teach us and shape our understanding, equipping us to know Him and hear Him in the ways He wants us to. May we surrender to Him our ways of hearing Him, and even surrender the ways we would like to hear from Him. He speaks to different people in different ways: may we surrender to Him the ways we hear from Him and the ways that we want to.

Let us surrender to God the things that we want to hear from Him, too. Sometimes I find myself coming to God with questions and expecting specific kinds of answers, but in those times He often says something completely different to what I expected or wanted – He even sometimes seems to say things that appear slightly irrelevant to the questions I asked. So let us surrender to God our focus when we want or expect to hear Him, and let Him guide the conversation – let Him say whatever He wants to say. Sometimes we don’t want to hear from God because we are afraid of being challenged by what we hear – and challenge can be difficult, even painful. So let us surrender to God our openness to hearing and receiving His challenge.

Whatever God says to anyone will always line up with Scripture. If God says something to you that you don’t understand, it can be useful to look for the answer in Scripture – the Bible often has many answers to help us understand life and understand what God is saying to us. Let us surrender to God our knowledge of the Scriptures and our ways of responding to or dealing with the words He speaks to us. May we surrender to God the things He might be saying to us, and ask Him to reveal to us the truth and meaning that He wants to convey.

Everyone wants to change, but change demands desire and discipline before it becomes delightful. There is always the agony of choice before the promise of change.

– Larry Lea

The more we spend time talking with God and being open to letting Him speak to us on a daily basis, the more we begin to recognise His voice and know what is Him speaking to us and what is not. When we don’t know that what we feel we have heard from God is certainly Him speaking, we can ask Him. Some people think that it shows lack of faith to ask God to confirm to us that what He’s said is true or is really Him – but I disagree. I believe it’s very important to ask God for confirmation if we are not sure of His voice; then He can make us sure, build our faith and show us more of how to hear from Him and trust in His word.

May we surrender to God any confusion that we may feel when waiting on Him and trying, hoping or expecting to hear His voice – and any confusion that we may feel when we do not know whether it is God speaking or not; and also any confusion that we may feel regarding the words that God has spoken. We have an enemy who does not want us to know or hear God’s voice and so would wish that we remain confused and so don’t follow or believe what God has said to us. Surrendering to God our confusion equips us to hear from God more clearly. So may we surrender, and each day ask God to direct our thoughts and ideas, and to speak to us in whatever ways He sees fit. May we be open to hear from Him each day in any way He may choose.


God my Teacher, my Guide, my Comfort…

Thank You that You love to communicate with Your people.

Thank You for Your infinite creativity – that You speak in different ways to different people.

Please help me to not restrict You in my understanding, and to be open to whatever ways You want to speak.

I surrender to You my frustration at sometimes not hearing Your voice in the ways or the timing that I’d like.

I surrender to You the ways I deal with not hearing Your voice sometimes.

Please teach me and equip me to know You and hear You in the ways and the times that You want me to.

I surrender to You my ways of hearing You, too.

I surrender to You my expectations and the ways I’d like to hear from You.

I surrender to You my focus when I’m spending time in prayer, or listening to You, or simply going throughout each day.

Please speak to me wherever I am – open me up to hear Your voice!

I surrender to You my openness to hearing and receiving Your challenge.

I surrender to You my knowledge of the Scriptures and my ways of responding to or dealing with the words You speak to me.

I surrender to You any confusion that I may feel when waiting on You and trying or expecting to hear Your voice.

I surrender to You any confusion that I may feel when I don’t know whether it’s You speaking or not.

I surrender to You any confusion that I may feel regarding the words that You speak to me.

Please communicate with me in the ways that You want to.

Teach me to recognise Your voice every day!

Let Your word penetrate my being.

Teach me Your truth, loving God!

I surrender to You the way I live as a result of hearing and knowing Your voice.

Please shape my understanding.

I give You my ears and I ask that You teach me how to use them; teach me to hear You.

May I live in Your ways, following Your voice rather than my own thoughts and understanding.