Have you ever prayed to God about something you really needed an answer for, something important, but heard no answer? Our tendency during such times is to think God is not speaking to us, but what I’ve learned is that most of the time the problem is on my end. All parents are familiar with the concept of selective hearing, but I’ve found this sometimes describes my relationship with God as well. When I suffer from spiritual deafness, I’ve found two simple questions that help me get unstuck:
The first and most basic question is, am I in-tune with God? In other words, is God speaking, and I’m just not hearing it? All of us can recall times when someone was speaking directly to us, and we just missed it. Moreover, we know that messages from radio and TV programs are passing through our bodies 24/7, messages that an appropriately tuned antenna can pull out of the air. This is a good picture of where human beings are in relation to God. He is constantly showering us with messages that go right through us. Jesus often spoke of having “ears to hear” God’s message, and told us to, “pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given. This is the way knowledge increases” (Mark 4:23-24).
So the first question is essential; I need to understand what God is telling me. This is where we start, but then we must ask a second question: “What am I going to do about what God said to me?” This is a question that speaks to our motives and intentions, and answering it will require some soul searching. Am I seeking God in order to learn how to do what He wants, or am I simply looking for divine approval of my own plans?
When my life is not devoted to God’s purposes, He may still use me and bless what I’m doing if it fits with His overall purpose. We are, after all, people He deeply loves. But life can be so much more when my prayer is “God let me participate in what You are already doing,” rather than, “God bless what I am doing.”
There are many potential roadblocks to hearing God: perhaps I don’t hear His voice because I don’t expect to hear it. Or maybe I don’t hear it because I am not tuned to His frequency. Or maybe I am tuned to God’s frequency, but I hear His message as a foreign language broadcast because the language of heaven is faith. Or perhaps His voice is an unwelcome intrusion because I have no intention of letting Him change my life.
The list of potential roadblocks is long, but when all is said and done, you will be the best person to determine the roadblocks in your life. If you don’t have ears to hear, you will never change your mind, but if you can receive it, consider what the Lord says through the prophet Isaiah: “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”
Isaiah 59 gives us the full story, but the bottom line is this: God’s guidance is not a gimmick we can use to manipulate outcomes to our personal advantage. This is why Jesus taught us to pray “hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.”
Hearing God is a day to day reality for those devoted to the advancement of the kingdom of heaven. Perhaps the answer to why I’m not hearing God is as simple as me never coming to a place in my heart where I can truthfully say, “I am living for one thing and one thing only–to be like Christ and do His work and serve Him in His kingdom and bless others in His name.”
If you have not come to that place, then perhaps the question, “how do I hear God?” should be replaced with, “what would I do if I could hear the word of God?”