“She gave me a bunch of crap about me not listening to her, or something. I don’t know, I wasn’t really paying attention.” – Harry Dunne, Dumb and Dumber
Listening is hard.
It’s especially hard when you have a supreme case of ADD, like me.
In college, the amount of time I spent in class listening was nowhere near the amount of time I spent in class daydreaming about nonsense.
I couldn’t help it. Nonsense is just so interesting.
“What? Did you say something important about the test? Oh, sorry—I was just thinking about how funny the word ‘scantron’ is.”
Hmm, that’s weird. Where do I turn in my test?
Honestly, ADD has given me a great picture of what it’s often like trying to listen for God’s voice. Sometimes it’s not so easy. Sometimes it’s really difficult to distinguish his voice from all the other voices. Sometimes we can listen for a long time and not feel like we heard anything.
But I believe God speaks and wants us to listen to him. Two-way dialogue is the way to grow in ANY relationship—including one with God.
That may seem scary, subjective, and full of potential questions. How do we navigate through the process of listening for His voice, when it seems so strange and difficult sometimes?
In this post, I’m going to do my best to help. So I’ve added a couple verses I’ve found to be encouraging, which involve is listening for God’s voice. Then I’ll go through some questions older and wiser people have answered for me along the way, and hopefully it will be beneficial.
Job 33:14 – “For God does speak—now in one way, now in another—though man does not perceive it.”
John 10:2-5 – “The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 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.”
I’m of the tribe that believes God can speak through anything: friends, songs on the radio, movies, dreams, thoughts… you name it, he’s probably spoken through it.
The most concrete words we have from him are in scripture, though, which is why it’s called the Word of God. If God speaks through anything else, it’s going to line up with scripture.
Sometimes a verse in the Bible will do something to us. It will stand out for some reason. You may or may not have heard it called a “Holy Spirit highlighter.”
When this happens, take note of what’s going on inside you. Why is that happening? What might you be connecting to in that passage, and why? What might God want you to know today? Remember you can ask him. 🙂
Well, there are some certain qualities that set God’s voice apart from the voice of the enemy. I found this list (originally here) and I really like it, because it shows the differences between the character of the two messages. They feel totally different:
Try these out to discern the origin of a message or thought or accusation. Shockingly, I’ve found that the enemy’s accusations often use first-person. I don’t belong here. I’m not worthy of this. I’ll never get this right. Quite a stealthy move.
This question is funny.
Because asking a DIFFERENT question changes your reaction entirely.
When you ask “What if it’s NOT God?”, you think, This is dangerous. I shouldn’t risk being wrong about this. I’ll just forget it.
But if you ask, “What if it IS God?”, it changes everything.
You instead think, Holy cow…I should write this down and pray about it and listen to try and figure out whether it’s God.
Try training yourself to ask the second question rather than the first, and watch how that transforms your time with God.
I think we are often too quick to throw out his voice in our thoughts, because we’re scared we’re going to get it wrong. But what if throwing it out is just as dangerous as “getting it wrong”?
I happen to think God really enjoys it when we try to listen for his voice, even if we feel like we “got it wrong” or came away empty-handed.
I don’t have to be perfect at it. It’s okay that sometimes I space out when I’m trying to listen, because I’m allowed to mess up. It’s like learning to walk. Would you ever tell your kid learning to walk that you’re disappointed he fell down?
It can feel strange and you feel clumsy when you start trying to do it. But it’s so worth it.
A good bit of advice I got a long time ago was when in doubt, just ask, “Is that you, God?” It’s surprisingly effective.
I’ll leave you with an intriguing and almost-scandalous little quote by guy named Brad Jersak: “God’s voice is often the voice we hear right after we ask him a question and right before we start trying to reason it away.”