I can’t hear God for Myself

I can’t hear God for myself. What do I do?

Have you ever had trouble hearing God for yourself? I have.

Twenty-three years ago, hubby and I asked God where we should church plant. There were so many options. We visited places. Prayed over locations. Tried to break through the fuzz. Made up spreadsheets. Fasted. Prayed. Waited. Waited. Waited.

Ten years ago, as we flew to Queensland for a family holiday, I asked God to reveal to me on the holiday what I should do with nursing. I was nursing in a Coronary Care Unit one to two days a fortnight on weekends whilst home-schooling the kids. Sensing the time for finishing was near, I asked God to confirm it. The dream that first night on holiday was a clincher – give up or it will be taken from you. I hung on, not willing to take the plunge to leave nursing as the money was great and provided for our holidays. Interesting outcome. Not bad. Just a change in the boss several years later meant twenty-five of the best nurses left within seven days.

With big decisions now, I check immediately if God has already asked me to do something, and I haven’t obeyed.

Often, I can find it hard to hear God for myself when I have a significant decision. I can start doubting my ability to hear and sense God.

Sometimes God may appear silent because the options we have given God are all good. My husband was giving prophetic words at a worship gathering on Tuesday evening. A young woman was asking for direction in her life. She couldn’t seem to hear from God. Gary sensed that three doors were opening and each of the three were a good fit. He sensed God saying, “You choose what you want.” The young woman gasped as she had just been presented with three research positions. She had been asking God to show her which one she was meant to take whereas God was saying they are all a great fit – you choose.

I have tried several things to help me when I struggle to hear from God. Usually, I will try an ‘encounter’ with God, as explained in the last two blog posts, to imagine myself positioned with God. Other times, I have attempted to ask God a different question.

I will never forget the first time I decided to ask God a different question. I was driving home from an Anzac Day Service where I had watched my son march with his Air Force Cadet Squadron. Whilst watching the march, I began crying. Not sobbing but crying enough that my response shocked me. Why was I crying? When anything unexpected occurs, I try to ask God:

  • “What did that trigger in me?” or
  • “Why did I respond like that?” or
  • “What’s underneath that emotion?”

Nothing came. My mind was spinning with a thousand thoughts – was it because our son wanted to join the Defence Force, and he may be fighting in a war one day? Was it because…. Numerous what if’s came to mind. But God seemed to be deathly silent.

I sat with it a bit longer, and it suddenly struck me – I think I was asking the wrong question. The more suitable question was, “Was it appropriate the emotion I expressed?” Immediately I heard God’s voice – “Yes. You are extremely grateful for those who served and fought to save this country and your future.”

Try changing the question.

Thus, when people comment that they find it hard to hear God for themselves, my first response is to suggest they ask God a different question.

Have you ever asked God:

  • “What are you NOT saying?”
  • “Why is that God? Please show me more of the background.”
  • “What is your perspective God of where I am right now?”
  • “Why …..?” or “How ….. ?”

We can do several things to clear the communication lines when trying to receive communication from God for ourselves.

Suggestions to implement when you feel a blockage in hearing God for yourself:

  1. The first thing I do is turn my heart and affections to Jesus. I silently worship God. Praise shifts the atmosphere. Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise”. If you want to enter His presence, see what He is seeing, and hear what He is saying, praise and thanks will do that.
  2. What are you asking God? Can you reframe your question? Are you asking God the wrong question? Are you wanting to hear a specific answer, i.e. treating God like Santa Claus, thus not hearing God because you’re not hearing what you’re desiring?
  3. Change things up a bit. Do something different. Perhaps put on other worship music. Change position or posture. Try spending time with God in nature or a different place. I love going to the beach on a stormy day and ‘feeling’ God in the storm.
  4. Have you been obedient in doing what God has asked of you? If you haven’t been obedient in following through on what God has already asked you to do, how can you expect Him to tell you the next step?
  5. Is there any sin in your life? Sin has a disastrous way of blocking the relationship between God and yourself.
  6. Facilitate an encounter with God. I explained this in the last two blog posts – encountering God part 1 and encountering God part 2. A helpful encounter to try is to imagine yourself under a waterfall. Look around and feel, hear, smell, and see what it is like under that waterfall. Imagine next that that waterfall is God pouring out good stuff over you. What is He pouring over you? Revel in what is flowing over you. Enjoy. Splash around in it. When you finish imagining this, try spending some time just enjoying God for who He is.
  7. Are you prepared to lean into God over a more extended period – fast, meditate, pray, enjoy being with God, spend time listening?
  8. Ask God if there is a lie you are believing. If you perceive there is a lie, ask God to show you the truth.

If there is an issue you are struggling with or are finding it hard to hear God on an ongoing basis, regular prayer ministry enables blockages to be quickly erased.

The key is a vibrant, life-giving relationship with God the Father, Holy Spirit, and Jesus.

Next blog post I will explore several suggestions if your mind goes blank when prophesying.

Prophetic Activations / Exercises to incorporate into your week:

Every blog post I list 5 prophetic activations/exercises under children/family, group, beginner, intermediate and advanced. The purpose of these exercises is to practice to help us hear God’s voice in a clearer manner. They sharpen our senses to hear and see and sense God and His way of communicating with us. This enables us to grow in our relationship with God and also to impart to others what God tells us for them. Feel free to use as many of these activations each week as you can. The more you practice, the sharper you become at hearing God’s voice. Enjoy! Remember that whenever you give another person a prophetic word or picture etc, please make sure that it is encouraging, edifying (strengthening) and comforting (1 Corinthians 14:3) and that it comes from a place of love.

1. Children / Families Activation: Play prophetic ‘duck, duck, goose’. People sit in a circle with their eyes closed. Walk around the outside of the group and tap one person on the shoulder. That person is receiving the prophetic word. Ask everyone else to ask God what He would like to say to this (unknown) person with the scribe taking notes. After 5-6 people have shared, ask the receiver to raise their hand. Pass the written notes to that person for encouragement. Ask them to feed back to the group how accurate the words were, how they made them feel etc. Then repeat the process taping someone else on the head/shoulder.

2. Group Activation: Find a creative way of getting into pairs. Once in pairs, each person asks God for a book title for their partner. It may be an actual book title or a made up title that God wants to give to that person to highlight something about them. Remind people to capture the first thought that goes through their mind and go with that, as long as it is encouraging, strengthening, comforting. Keep asking God questions about the book – fact or fiction, children or adult, what the title means, what you would find in the book etc. Ask them to share with their partners. Set a time limit of three to five minutes total to help people be precise and hear/sense quickly.

3. Beginner Activation: Quieten your heart and focus on God. Then imagine a plane flying overhead with a banner trailing behind it. Look at the banner – what has God written on it just for you? Why? Spend a few moments asking God more questions about the wording and what it means for you. Then ask God to show your imagination the plane flying overhead again with a different banner. This time the banner is for someone else. Ask God who it is for and why. Is there anything else God wants to share with you about this? Ask God if you are meant to share this with the person and when.

4. Intermediate Activation: Ask God to highlight someone to you who politically votes completely differently to you. This activation is not about conflict and trying to change people’s opinions. It is about asking God for a love for this person and for God to show you His heart for the person. Ask God how you are to communicate to the person what He has shown you for them.

5. Advanced Activation: Spend time with God hearing His heart for Australia and her future as the election is tomorrow. Prophecy aloud that which you sense is Australia’s future. Ask God if there is anything else He would have you do eg a prophetic act.

Encountering God part 2

Often I come across people desperate for a prophetic word. These people chase after prophetic people and hang off every word uttered. When challenged, they say they can’t hear God for themselves, or have a decision to make and desperately need to have a prophetic word.

Unfortunately, these folks are cheating themselves.

They are cheating themselves out of a vibrant relationship with the Living Almighty God. It is almost like they are taking second best. Please hear me. I am not saying it is wrong to get a prophetic word. Prophetic words are invaluable. What I am saying is don’t go chasing a prophetic word from someone. Chase God instead. Going to someone inferior to God for a word from God with that word filtered through that person’s experience. 1 Corinthians 13:9 tells us that a prophetic word is not the complete picture from God – “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.”

Why encounter God for yourself?

The purpose of an encounter with God is intimacy with God. Pure intimacy. The outcome will be change within you and the presence of Kingdom values – peace, joy, freedom, healing, truth, etc.

Not going with feelings is crucial. If we have felt nothing, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t had an encounter with God. Be careful not to judge something based solely on your feelings. Sometimes we may not even realize we have changed, but others can testify that we seem more at peace, more kind, etc.

When we encounter God for ourselves, we experience a personal revelation from Him. We become aware of Him through our senses. We can see, hear, sense, feel, smell or taste God or the things of God.

Encountering God for ourselves is vital, as it is a method we hear from God for ourselves and others. Sometimes we can fall into the trap of hearing from God for other people, but we can struggle to hear Him when hearing for ourselves. We need to explore ways we can hear God for ourselves during all seasons.

Last blog post, we explored how there will always be good fruit from an encounter with Jesus.

What an encounter can look like:

Sometimes the language we use can be off-putting. The term ‘encounter’ is very Pentecostal. Initially, I struggled with the word because I falsely believed that I had to manifest physically by speaking in tongues, shaking, falling to the ground, groaning, etc. An encounter with the Heavenly Father is purely being aware of His Presence, His Power, His Person, His delight in us. It is a transaction of intimacy.

An encounter will be different for everyone. Some people may have a physical experience, others a quiet reflection. Others may sit quietly but feel that they have travelled spiritually to heaven or a place where they are with Jesus.

God is a personal God. Thus, everyone will have an individual experience. Don’t imitate anyone else.

One of the first times I allowed myself to imagine I was with Jesus was a time when we ended up (in my mind) on a wooden pier – laying down and peering through the holes in the slats at my life here on earth. I can remember asking Jesus about an issue I struggled with, and His answer was perfect. Many times since then, I have quietened myself and imagined Jesus and me lying on that wooden pier peering through the slats at issues in my life.

How do I have an encounter with Jesus?

Great question. Everyone is different, so what works for you may not work for me.

I find it easier for me if I quieten my heart first or if I am worshipping God. Thanking God and coming into His Presence. I then allow my cleansed imagination to join with my Heavenly Father or Jesus and let my thoughts flow.

There are several places in my home that I have stewarded to create ‘thin’ places. These places feel like there is no discernable difference between heaven and earth. They are places usually of beauty, refuge, safety, and sacredness. It is typically a location or moment treated with reverence and awe.

Spending time with God can steward a thin place. You may find a favourite comfy chair where you love reading the Bible or praying becomes a place where you hear God’s voice clearly. It may be a place you steward silence and reflection. Because I love praying to God regularly in the shower and when ironing, I find I hear God’s voice immediately as soon as I go to those places. The same as the beach. I love walking along the beach, especially in rough weather, as I hear and sense God. My husband loves the bush and finds it easy to encounter God there.

I encourage you to posture yourself, to steward a thin place for yourself.

Encountering God demands obedience

Last week, I covered several times in the Bible where people changed after an encounter with God.

In Genesis 32, we see Jacob wrestling all night with God. Jacob gained a new identity and confidence. Our identity comes from who we are in God, so whenever we encounter God or spend time with Him, we become more attuned to our true identity.

In Genesis 6, God encountered Noah and revealed His plans to Noah. The outcome was Noah’s obedience. Noah trusted God despite the culture and everyone else’s opinions and fulfilled what God has asked him to do.

In 1 Samuel 3, the young boy Samuel heard the voice of God four times. Eli discounted the first two. The third time, Eli realized a transaction was occurring. Our response is to believe and be quick to obey.

Types of encounters:

1. The waterfall

A common encounter people seem to love, but one which I find harder to experience God is the waterfall. Close your eyes. Quieten your heart and focus on God. Imagine yourself walking under a waterfall. Imagine yourself feeling the water washing over you, washing away your cares and concerns and everything that’s not from God. Imagine the water filling you up like the Holy Spirit. Take deep breaths of His infilling Presence. Enjoy a time of transaction with the Holy Spirit. When you are ready, imagine stepping out of the waterfall, carrying that which has filled you up.

2. Memory stones / triggers

Intentionally place something that will remind you of God and a particular time or a miracle in a specific spot. Use that memory stone to remind you to pause, thank God and focus on Him for today. (I rarely use the word trigger as it can have negative connotations but several friends use the term to trigger them to pray and connect with the Father’s heart.)

3. Left and right hand

Stand up and close your eyes. Quieten your heart towards God. Think of an issue you need answers for. Imagine placing the issue in your left hand. Hold your left hand out, palm up. Allow space to be quiet and transact with God. Now, put your right hand up in the air. Ask God to show you the answer to the issue in your left hand. Ask God to put the answer in your right hand. Pull the answer down from heaven into your reality.

4. Other ways

Some people love journaling and writing out their prayers to God and listening to Him for His answers as they write. Others may find meditating on a single Bible verse, repeating the verse a several times and reflecting on the words a valuable method of encountering God. Worship, speaking in tongues, creative prayer, drawing, painting, and dancing to worship music are beneficial.

It is vital that you discover ways where you can hear God for yourself and have an encounter with Him and His goodness, His mercy, His love and freedom, peace and joy.

Next blog post, I will explore some methods we can use when finding it hard to hear God or encounter God.

Prophetic Activations / Exercises to incorporate into your week:

Every blog post I list 5 prophetic activations/exercises under children/family, group, beginner, intermediate and advanced. The purpose of these exercises is to practice to help us hear God’s voice in a clearer manner. They sharpen our senses to hear and see and sense God and His way of communicating with us. This enables us to grow in our relationship with God and also to impart to others what God tells us for them. Feel free to use as many of these activations each week as you can. The more you practice, the sharper you become at hearing God’s voice. Enjoy! Remember that whenever you give another person a prophetic word or picture etc, please make sure that it is encouraging, edifying (strengthening) and comforting (1 Corinthians 14:3) and that it comes from a place of love.

1. Children / Families Activation: Gather warm, fuzzy material or favourite blankets and give a piece of material/blanket to each person. Ask them to get in a comfortable position, whether sitting or lying, and wrap that material around them, imagining God’s arms around them giving them a hug. Have music playing softly and encourage them to ask God questions and listen to His response. Have paper and drawing materials available for children to draw/write their experiences.

2. Group Activation: Take the group outside and ask them to look for something that is unusual or captures their attention or a unique sound or smell. Partner up and prophesy over their partner using the object that caught their attention as the starting point.

3. Beginner Activation: Try one of the encounters explained above.

4. Intermediate Activation: Ask Jesus to highlight to you a person who is desperate for an encounter with Him. Ask Jesus what He would love you to do about this and your part to play in this person receiving a touch from Jesus.

5. Advanced Activation: Carve out some time this week to go to a ‘thin’ place where you can spend extended time with God. Ask Him for a prophetic word for the US Supreme Court in relation to the Roe verse Wade ruling being deliberated. Decree and declare the response aloud. Ask God if there is anything further He would have you do.