"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."
- John 10:27 NKJV
I recently heard from a relatively new believer who was deeply troubled because he could not clearly hear the voice of the Lord. He asked me for advice, and I shared with him some truths from the Word of God that I hoped would comfort and encourage him. The first thing I told him was that Jesus promised all of His followers that they would be able to discern His voice. (John 10:27) And if we're having serious difficulty hearing from Him, then we need to ask ourselves some tough questions.
Do we have habitual or unconfessed sin in our lives? Scripture says: "No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin, for God's nature abides in him." (1 John 3:9 AMP) When we receive Christ as our personal Savior, we are given a new nature. A sinful lifestyle no longer fits who we are. We will still sin, but we will be quick to confess our sins, and we will be deeply grieved by them, knowing that they grieve God. (1 John 1:9) The Bible says: "If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer." (Psalm 66:18-19 NLT) When we delay or resist confessing our sins, we greatly hinder our prayers and our fellowship with the Lord. Then we begin to lose our sensitivity to His voice.
Are we in close relationship with those who are indifferent or hostile toward God? Scripture says: "Come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor." (2 Corinthians 6:17 AMP) Only by maintaining a healthy distance between ourselves and nonbelievers can we have "favor" with God. One of the most important aspects of having divine favor is getting ready answers to our prayers. Before we enter into any relationship, we should seek God's will and wisdom in the matter. As Proverbs says: "The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray." (Proverbs 12:26 NKJV) Anyone who thinks they can have close relationships with unbelievers and still have the favor of God on their lives is badly deceived, and they will suffer the consequences that Scripture warns about. (Proverbs 13:20) Instead, we should follow God's command which says: "Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts." (2 Timothy 2:22 NLT)
Are we planting God's Word in our hearts and allowing it to renew our minds to think like God, instead of the world? Scripture says: "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." (Romans 12:2 NLT) Having our minds renewed by the truths in God's Word will sharpen our spiritual listening skills, and it will become increasingly easy to discern the Lord's voice apart from our own or the enemy's. It's helpful for us to remember that God's Word and Spirit never contradict each other--they are always in agreement. So when we think we are hearing the Lord's voice telling us something, but we're not entirely sure, we can go to the Word on the subject and let it confirm or refute it.
Are we spending time alone with God, being quiet and still before Him--giving Him our undivided attention and seeking Him in prayer? The Bible says: "Be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God." (Psalm 46:10 AMP) Those who want to know God intimately, and hear from Him consistently, must be willing to carve time out of their schedules each day to commune with Him in quiet reflection. The devil is going to try to surround us with as much noise and activity as he can. If we're not filled with a holy determination to spend daily quiet times with the Lord, we are never going to experience the kind of sweet and intimate fellowship with Him that is essential for us to fulfill His awesome call on our lives. The Lord is saying to each one of His children today, "Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile." (Mark 6:31 NLT) Let's not keep Him waiting.
Prayer: Lord, teach me how to become sensitive and obedient to Your voice every day in every way. Remind me to devote myself to Your Word so that my mind will be renewed to Your truth. Thank You that as I do my part to follow Your voice and Your vision for my life, I will experience life at its very best!
- J. M. Farro