Why we may not hear God – and what to do about it
Have you ever been in a situation when you are desperately looking for a lost item and some one speaks out and says “let’s ask God”, you first reaction could be “O, Yes but we have lost something”, even “Ok pray” but we never believe that God will speak.
I heard this story a little while ago when a four-year-old daughter, and her mother and father were raking the grass after a hot day mowing the lawn when mum shouted, “My engagement ring! its gone!”
They all looked together at the numerous massive garden bags stuffed with grass and everything else, bags that would have to be opened and dumped out one by one. Then would they find the ring.
The 4-year-old came up with a suggestion suggested, “Let’s ask God to show us where to start,” The temptation was to dismiss the notion as impractical. But what if the Holy Spirit were leading her?
“All right,” they agreed, “let’s ask the Lord to show us where the ring is.” So having sat on the grass, prayed for help, and remained quiet for a moment.
Suddenly the 4-year-old cried out, “God told me!” Then she pointed to one of the bags. “Open that one, Dad!” the Fathered turned the bag on its side and opened it. The ring tumbled out.
That day, Dad and Mum were shown that the 4-year-old had “ears to hear” what the Lord was saying (Mt. 11:15, NASB). And her parents learned a valuable lesson about the unexpected ways God might speak—if only we’ll listen.
Granted, having ears to hear may not always be as easy as it was for the 4-year-old that day. At times, God is silent. At other times, He may speak, but we’re hindered from hearing. What are the most common reasons for that spiritual deafness?
Three stand out to me: closed minds, closed hearts, and closed lifestyles.
The Barrier of a Closed Mind
Sometimes we close our minds against the possibility of hearing God. That close-mindedness can take a number of forms.
“Who, me?” When the Lord called Gideon to leadership, Gideon reacted in disbelief. As he saw it, he was an unimportant member of a minor family in the weakest of clans (Jdg. 6:15). “Give me a sign,” he insisted, “that it is really you talking to me” (v. 17).
Gideon doubted not that God would speak, but that God would speak to him. Why would the Lord of the universe converse with a nobody?
A number of years ago I was asked a question while on the phone to a car supplied who wanted to put right another breakdown of my car and said “Ask what ever you want” and I heard God saying “you have not as you don’t ask”. So asked, I did from a new car and amazingly within 3 days a new vehicle was delivered. It just taught me a lesson in life on asking, Jesus’ invitation should encourage us: “Ask and it will be given to you” (Lk. 11:9), I am not using it to asks for stuff what ever your need may be I am juts encouraging you to ask in the will of God and see what happens.
Jesus follows that invitation with the reminder that if even sinful human fathers care about their children, how much more will their Father in heaven do so (v. 13). This is the same Father by whom “the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Lk. 12:7). This Father cares about the details of our lives; the things that matter to us matter to Him—and He cares enough to speak to us about them.
Let’s not allow doubt to deafen us to God’s voice. No matter how small we may be in our own eyes, we can have faith that if we seek to hear from God, He will speak, for “he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6).
Be careful in our asking and listening as sometimes we just miss God’s communication with us is because it doesn’t come in the way we expect.
Think of the people standing around Jesus on the day God spoke from heaven. Jesus understood clearly what His heavenly Father said. But “the crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered” (Jn. 12:29). How many times has God spoken and we heard thunder then? Apparently, their expectations about how God might speak did not include an audible voice from heaven. So when the word of the Lord came to them, all they heard was noise.
Open minds stay alert to both the ordinary and the extraordinary and surprising ways God may choose to speak. I think most of us get lost in the surprising ways or extraordinary ways that we miss the ordinary in our lives. I would suggest to you that God more often speaks in the ordinary than any other way. We can miss it as it can be too ordinary. Lets hear God in all ways and let God be God shall we?
The story of Augustine may encourage us as saint of old and his experience, he is regarded a s senior father in our faith and his encounter with God. One day in his youth, Augustine of Hippo wept alone in a garden, plagued by the knowledge that his life was not consecrated to God. He begged for divine help to break decisively from his sinful past.
Suddenly, he heard a child nearby, chanting a refrain: “Take up and read, take up and read!”
Was it simply part of a child’s game? Augustine wasn’t sure. But he was alert to the possibility that the Lord was speaking through that child. So Augustine found a copy of the Scriptures, opened it, and read the first words he saw:
Let us behave decently…not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery.…Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
The text struck him like a thunderbolt. Of that moment, Augustine later said to God, “You converted me to Yourself.”
“It might get weird!” Another consideration may cause us to close our minds to God’s voice: How many religious cults have begun with an individual claiming “God told me…”? How many unbalanced people have engaged in strange, even criminal, behavior that they thought was inspired by God? How many otherwise normal people, for that matter, have made poor decisions because they thought they were acting under God’s private, specific instructions?
Understandably, we don’t want to make the same mistake: to ascribe to the Lord our own silly notions or defame His reputation by claiming He’s told us something that proves untrue. Such caution is admirable. But listening to God is not an all-or-nothing proposition. It’s possible, even common, for Christians sometimes to hear the Lord accurately and to be mistaken at other times. Learning to listen with discernment is a form of spiritual growth. To help us in this process, God has provided ways of correcting us—or of confirming what He has said.
If we believe that God has spoken to us about a matter of doctrine or morals, we can compare what we believe we’ve heard with the teaching of Scripture. If what we heard involves a personal decision, we can seek the counsel of wise Christian friends. If we believe we heard a call to action that requires God’s provision, the arrival of that provision can be a form of confirmation. We also have each other so learn to seek counsel and submit to each other so we can be confirmed. Do not go looking for the ways you want and the answers that come in line with your thinking, let people be honest and even if you don’t see it.
I know Gods grace to us is not to have any aspects of our lives closed in any such ways but to be those who have come into freedom that we might have a liberated mind. A mind that can fly into the experiences and encounter of God in every way God comes to us to give all to us all so that we can be given to the will of God as well.
Next time we can move on to the other two hearts and lifestyle