How to Hear God’s Voice

Hearing God's VoiceI hung up the phone and promptly fell into a heap, sobbing uncontrollably. Unable to catch my breath, my mind raced from one tragic event to the next, spiraling deeper into despair with each scene my memory recalled.

Pinned down, dark eyes, unheard cries. Cold bathroom floor, double blue lines. Forever traumatized.

Escape is what that phone call was supposed to have offered me; a way out; a way to leave the past behind and start fresh. Instead, my stomach twisted and turned and memories suffocated me, leaving me feeling hopeless—even after making the call to abort my rapist’s baby.

My gasps for air were interrupted by something I can only attribute to the voice of God. Not an audible voice, but it may as well have been, because it caught my attention as if someone had literally entered the room. My body quieted and my tears slipped down my blotchy cheeks without sound. I fumbled my way to a standing position, stood still and listened.

What are you doing, Karyn? You’ve been begging for a baby for three years—-for three long years. Now you’re with child and you don’t want it?”

I spoke aloud, “She’s not mine, God.”

And in response, through His gentle whisper, I hear, “But she’s mine.”

I’ve shared this story before and people often ask, “How did you know it was God speaking to you?” I know because in my utter distress, I was unable to think beyond the moment, beyond the pain, beyond myself.  His words—I was not capable to say let alone conjure up in my mind. His words combated those of my soul and aligned with His Word. His words spoken through impression, testified spirit to spirit. His words spoke light and truth over darkness and despair. His words spoke love in to hate, acceptance over outcast, peace over war. That’s how I know.

I get that my experience is not scientific proof. I get that the abstract nature of God speaking to us is subjective. And I get that many people doubt His ability to speak to us. Personally, I feel that the issue is not in God’s ability to speak, but in our inability to hear.

The phrase, “Whoever has ears, let them hear” is found six times in the gospels and eight times in the book of Revelation. Those six words—seemingly simple words—are anything but. Their “exhortation is one of urgency…our destiny depends on it,” writes Pastor and Author Mark Batterson.

Our destiny depends on hearing. 

Untitled designThe thing is, we are not all that good at listening. We may take in the information communicated, but with it we filter it through who we are— our experiences, belief systems, personalities, ethnicities…. On the flip side, we assume that how we communicate–the motive, the meaning behind it–accurately rests on ears that hear, but just because we speak the same language does not mean we hear and understand one another.

We understand those who we’ve invested time; into those we’ve shared life with—the good, the bad, and everything in between; into those we’ve listened to and grasped their heart, their desires as well as their pains and sorrows. A relationship like this doesn’t manifest itself. It takes two people intentionally showing up with all of themselves in their raw state—allowing one another to be truly seen, to be truly known. We don’t do this in today’s culture, so the idea of doing this before a seemingly abstract god is foreign and I get it: weird.

The first time I prayed and then intentionally sat quietly in hopes to hear God, I waited and waited and felt nothing, heard nothing. After a long time, I hopped up from my chair and thought, “What a waste of time.”

I wonder if you have felt like this too?

When our expectations are not met over and over again, we often throw in the towel and stop expecting altogether. When we don’t hear God we may assume He isn’t speaking—or at least speaking to us. We may continue to pray to Him, ask him for this and that in our moments of desperation or even out of obligation or habit—and He hears us. Our words do not fall on deaf ears but on ears eager and willing to listen.

I wonder if we’re afraid of what God might say. I wonder if we fear a heavy hand, an admonishment, a good ol chastisement from Him. Lord knows we probably deserve it. The thing is, we’re fearing our idea of Him, not the reality of Him. We make assumptions based on what we think, not on who He is. And we don’t know who He is if we’re not in a genuine relationship with Him.

I wonder if sometimes reassign or redefine His message to us.

_He longs to communicate with you in tones, pitches, and frequencies that this world is not wired for, to fill you with affirmation that your soul has been thirsting for._ Steven FurtickI wonder if we glimpse Him through sunsets and gentle winds, through the toothless smile and contagious giggle of the baby in the booth next to ours. I wonder if we glimpse Him though the extra tight hug of a friend, through music that quiets our soul and washes over us with a layer of much need respite. I wonder if we glimpse Him through revelations and ah-ha moments or in the moments that steal our breath away. I wonder if we see Him in the starry night and the raging seas—His peace and His strength. I wonder if His Word doesn’t sometimes connect dots that have left us stranded or shed Light, giving us eyes to see what has been there all the while.  I wonder if we realize that in everything we see, God is present and God is speaking His Word, His love, His care over us. He delights to show Himself to us, if only we have eyes to see and ears to hear.

Mark Batterson, reminds us in His book, Whisper, that everything we see around us once began with God’s voice. You may not audibly hear Him, but His message, His voice, His Word is all around you.

In order to interpret His message accurately, we must first know Him; have a relationship with Him. This begins and ends with His Word. Anything He will ever reveal to you, will always, always, always align with His Word. The second this is, we must posture ourselves in a way to hear Him.

How do we do this?

By quieting our souls, letting go of our agenda, being receptive to whatever He may reveal to us. Easier said than done because what I read between the lines here is that listening involves submission, a willingness to die to self and tune into a frequency that we’re not necessarily comfortable with.

Listening doesn’t happen by default. Nope; it happens by design. We have to consciously lean in and listen—and discern. That discernment piece is critical because I’m not sure if you’re like me but my mind lies to me all the time. I hear little voices that tell me that I’m not good enough to hear from God, that I don’t matter, or that His message is for everyone else, etc. I exaggerate not when I say I’ve had these very thoughts as I have prayed. Satan is intimidated by our quest to know God more intimately and to hear from Him. He will use elements of truth and twist them—that’s why we HAVE to discern which voice/message we’re hearing and check it against our truth standard.

As for when we genuinely quiet our hearts, minds, and souls and we still don’t hear him, I have learned it is anything but a waste of time. Listening is not passive; it’s proactive. I believe God is honored and absolutely delighted when we give Him our time and attention.

“Nothing has the potential to change your life like the whisper of God. Nothing will determine your destiny more than your ability to hear his still small voice.”

My daughter, who is nearly 20 years old can attest to that!

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13 thoughts on “How to Hear God’s Voice

  1. Dear Karyn. This has got to be one of the strongest, most articulate blog post I have ever read to date. Your talent at the keyboard is obvious. What a gift. Your moment in that room, where you were moved by His Spirit concerning the baby, was a moment of deep calling deep. You are right. It was His voice because it was outside your own leanings at the crux of the dismay. That was the greatest evidence. Yes, it was hard to write of this very personal topic, yet so many will identify, and dare I say, recollect times of God’s action of stepping into the room of heartbreak. Thank you for the courage. God’s grip – Alan

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Oh Alan!

    Your words bring such a smile to my face and tears to my eyes for your absolute kindness. Only because of the Holy Spirit’s intercession and interjection do I have my daughter! I have seen and heard Him countless times through her life, through her supernatural gift of song, through the way she writes and speaks and has breath..He poured much of His creativity in to her and I find myself absolutely weeping with joy over the gift of her life—something many people might not understand.
    I know this post left out so much. I am still learning how to harness all my thoughts and not bore my readers to death with something too long. Perhaps another post will have to be written one day…
    I love sharing this journey with you and love too that I have the privilege to call you my brother!

    Hugs to you, Alan in Dallas!

    Karyn

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fantastic post! Thank you for being so vulnerable. I believe you heard God that day! I have heard him as well, and the only reason I know it is Him is because I would never have said that. Lol. I also agree that we can hear his whispers in the sunsets and the world around us. He is constantly showing his love for us through his creation. He also speaks to me through songs. I can’t count the times that I have been asking him something or worrying about something and then a song comes on the radio that totally answers me. It brings tears to my eyes when it happens. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh Collene!

      Isn’t it the absolute best when we feel we’ve heard from Him? I am often so moved when I realize He’s speaking to me that I can’t help but to cry–sounds like we have that in common! 🙂 I mean, really, the God of the universe—is talking to me, little ol me–that He should be mindful of me? Hard to truly grasp His level of grace, compassion, and love for someone like me. (Clearly, I’m still learning to walk in my God-given identity!)

      The other day I was sitting on the back patio and two butterflies were chasing one another. This went on for 15 minutes, I exaggerate not. As I sat there all alone, the thought came to me that no one else in all the world was seeing what I was seeing in this moment. I believe the Lord allowed me to watch this beautiful display of play purely for my joy—and for His. I didn’t hear a message, but I felt as if it was His way of saying, “I see you and I want to delight in you in this way. Maybe that sounds silly…still, I smiled and said aloud, “I know that was you, Lord. Thank you.”

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Beautiful Karyn! Words can’t express how grateful I am for your vulnerability, wisdom, and love. Wow! SO good! Thank YOU! I’ve been Christian my hole life, and it’s super “interesting” to me how little we talk about and teach people how to listen to God. I’d venture to say it’s at least partially because culturally we’re not that great at listening to each other (or even ourselves!). When someone else is talking/observing/sharing our heads are often busier formulating our response than taking in and being changed by what he/she says. Know what I mean? I LOVED how you said, “I wonder if we realize that in everything we see, God is present and God is speaking His Word, His love, His care over us. He delights to show Himself to us, if only we have eyes to see and ears to hear.” While I believe I’ve heard the more explicit and “audible” voice of God a few times, the game changer for me has been realizing I can always “hear” the Divine because the messages are in EVERYTHING. I especially receive this gift when my mind quiets from yoga, running, breathing, mindfulness, etc. I remember your wonderful, encouraging comments on my blog back in October/November, and I’m super stoked I finally got around to checking yours out, and am following it now! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My Featured Blogger this week is Karyn of Saturated in Seattle. You can probably guess where she lives, but what matters more is what, and Who, lives in her. Her words: “This is me; all of me. Present. Authentic. Vulnerable. Always learning. Forever growing. Humble and yet sometimes proud. A wretch and yet a saint. I’m complex and simple, but always myself.” Karyn’s authenticity and character have touched me many times. I know they’ll do the same for you.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:
    My Featured Blogger this week is Karyn of Saturated in Seattle. You can probably guess where she lives, but what matters more is what, and Who, lives in her. Her words: “This is me; all of me. Present. Authentic. Vulnerable. Always learning. Forever growing. Humble and yet sometimes proud. A wretch and yet a saint. I’m complex and simple, but always myself.” Karyn’s authenticity and character have touched me many times. I know they’ll do the same for you.

    Liked by 1 person

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