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:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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?
- Is there any sin in your life? Sin has a disastrous way of blocking the relationship between God and yourself.
- Facilitate an encounter with God. I explained this in the last two blog posts – encountering God part 1 and encountering God part 2. In your imagination, go to a place where you feel close to God, a place where you hear God’s voice easily. Imagine yourself there. What does it feel like, look like, smell like, taste like, sound like? Imagine that Jesus walks to where you are in that place. Look for Jesus in your imagination and imagine that He has a present in His hands for you. Watch Him place it down next to you or place it in your hands. Unwrap it, savouring the experience. What has Jesus just given you? (Usually, something like this can open those lines of communication between God and ourselves again.) Another 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.
- Are you prepared to lean into God over a more extended period – fast, meditate, pray, enjoy being with God, spend time listening?
- 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.