At the heart of the Christian faith is the idea that there is a God who communicates with His creation. Contrary to the thought of some of America’s forefathers, God did not spin the world into motion and then step back to watch (Deism). Instead, He stepped into His creation and became involved (Christianity).
God is speaking. To believer and unbeliever alike, God is active and vocal. Unbelievers don’t hear God because they don’t believe. They excuse away God’s voice or deny it. While believers might recognize God’s voice calling them to salvation, we can still struggle to hear his voice in other aspects of our lives.
5 Reasons We Don’t Hear God
1. We want God to show us, not tell us. We like the idea of God communicating with us. However, we want Him to show us rather than tell us. If He shows us, we can be passive. We can wait until He turns our eyes toward what He desires. But by telling us, it requires active participation on our part. We have to listen. We have to engage God’s Word and attempt to hear what God is saying. Many Christians are passively waiting for God to show them, all while God wants them to actively listen for Him. (See: Do You Need a Sign to Believe in God?)
2. We desire immediate results more than a long-term relationship. Most Christians ignore the voice of God until they have (what they consider) a major decision to make. Then they try to get a quick word. This often involves Biblical roulette–take a Bible, randomly open it, see if you can twist any scripture to saying something to your situation. God cares far more about having a relationship with us than us getting a single decision correct. He wants to have an ongoing conversation rather than supplying an occasional directional command. (See: A Common Misunderstanding About God’s Will)
3. We focus more on What than Who. We are concerned with what God wants us to do; God is far more concerned with us understanding who He is. This influences His communication. While He might tell us what to do, He far more often is telling us who He is. When we understand the Who, the What takes care of itself. If God is continually revealing the who and we are looking for the what, it might be easy to miss God’s communication.
4. We focus more on Us than Him. God loves us, but we are not at the center of His world. We like to think we are. Because of our unending focus on ourselves, we can easily miss God’s communication when He fails to talk about our favorite topic–us. Even if we get past focusing on the what, we often confuse the who. We think it’s us, but it’s Him. Whenever we start seeking to hear from God and who He is, we will begin to hear Him more often.
5. We give more weight to uncertain (our feelings) communication at the expense of certain (God’s Word) communication. I don’t deny that God can speak to us through our circumstances, I just know we can never be certain it is Him. The only certain communication we have from God is in His Word. Everything else must be seen with some skepticism. Imagine walking into your pastor’s office. Outside the door is a framed picture of a famous passage of Scripture. When you walk in, your pastor is excited to see you. He says he had a dream the night before in which God appeared to him and told him to give you a specific message. Of the two words–the Scripture and the dream, only one is certain to be from God and for you. The certain word is the Scripture. The dream should be viewed with great skepticism. Sadly, we would take the dream as certain and would probably never even notice the Scripture. God’s Word is clearly meant for us. Everything else is questionable. (See: God Called Me vs. I Want To)
Many Christians don’t like to hear it, but there is a simple way to hear God speak more often–make it a discipline to read God’s Word daily, study it with a small group weekly, and attend (in person if possible) a local church where a good-hearted, hard-working pastor preaches (in person if possible) God’s Word on a weekly basis. Beyond those things, add podcasts and videos of great preachers/speakers. Read books and blogs from Christian writers. But don’t replace God’s design–you interacting with His Word through personal study and the church–with secondary methods.
The question isn’t whether or not God is speaking. The question is whether we are listening. What is God telling you?