Do you long to hear God speak to you? Discover six important and helpful truths about listening to God found in the Bible verse Isaiah 50:4-5. Hearing and listening to God in Scripture helps us to grow deeper with God as we recognize God’s voice. Experience the benefits of listening to God when reading the Bible to accelerate your spiritual growth. Enjoy this updated version of one of my most read posts through the years. Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this post for a great resource for learning to listen to God.
Listening can be a challenge.
“You aren’t listening to me.”
From the kitchen my husband is telling me that the plumber is coming tomorrow at 3. I don’t really hear him, but somehow I still respond, “Hmm..okay.”
Half-listening is getting to be a bad habit.
There, but not really present… How many times do you realize you are only half-listening? This can become a bad habit when we don’t give our full attention. It is even more challenging to listen to God. Though there are some instances in Scripture when God speaks with an audible voice, but most often God speaks in less direct ways. We struggle with listening to God, often questioning the reality of His presence when we don’t feel like are hearing from God. We want to make sure we don’t miss it when God speaks. What questions do you have about listening to God?
Six Important Truths about Listening to God.
It’s not as hard as you may think.
Before we go any further, let me encourage you with this simple truth. Hearing God doesn’t have to be a confusing or difficult experience. If you’re like me, I often wonder if God will speak to me. Have these thoughts ever come to mind when you’re trying to listen to God?
- Maybe I’m not doing something right, as if there is some magic formula to hearing God.
- I believe God speaks to some people, but I don’t think He will speak to me.
- I’m too sinful for God to want to speak to me.
- God has better things to do that talk to me.
- I have to be a super-Christian or spiritual giant to God to speak to me.
Are any of these thoughts about God speaking familiar to you?
One of my favorite passages in the Bible that refers to hearing God clearly is in Isaiah 50:4-5 (NLT).
The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom,
so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me
and opens my understanding to his will.
The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me,
and I have listened.
I have not rebelled or turned away.
Many times God has used the truths in this passage to encourage me in the process of learning to discern the voice of God. This short passage has helped me to understand that God is intimately involved in helping us to listen. In fact, God is more interested in our regular practice of listening to Him than we realize. I love the way the New American Standard Bible translates this passage with the words “He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.”
Truth #1: The Holy Spirit enables us to listen to God productively.
God is speaking every time we open our Bible. Living and active, the Holy Spirit draws our attention to specific truths. He guides our understanding. He is the Spirit of Truth.
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth… John 16:13.
When the Holy Spirit awakens our attention and opens our ears, listening brings insight and hearing moves us to action. In fact, the definition of hearing in this passage means to hear, to listen, and to obey.
When God awakens us, our sluggish thoughts perk up with increased understanding and discernment. What we glossed over rises above the page and a specific truth, instruction, or detail stands out.
Truth #2: When God speaks through His word, we are experiencing God.
Henry Blackaby writes, “Understanding spiritual truth does not lead you to an encounter with God; it is the encounter with God (Experiencing God p. 105).
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.–John 14:26.
Truth #3: Practice helps us to recognize God speaking through His Word.
Listen to God daily.
Morning by morning, God awakens me… Intimate and consistent, there is something very personal about these words. The Spirit can whisper gently, like a mother’s touch to awaken a sleeping child. We may expect burning bush experiences, but most often God speaks quietly through His word.
Without the Holy Spirit awakening us, we would not care, but roll over and go back to sleep. When we’re unresponsive, truth fades into the fog of a sleeping spirit. Meaning is lost in the murmur of countless thoughts muttering in our minds.
Consistency makes a difference.
Morning by morning echoes the constancy of a daily habit opening the day by listening to God. He nudges our attention. He opens our attention to hear, understand, and respond.
Consistency of listening to God isn’t a skill that is gained in a day, but built over time.
Truth #4: Listening begins with God.
Isn’t it interesting that most of the activity is on God’s part?
He gives. He awakens. He opens.
Our part is to respond. When we grasp this truth, we can let go of our stress about hearing God. He will help us learn to recognize when He is speaking to us.
Truth#5: Listening to God equips us to minister to others.
When we listen, we are prepared to encourage the weary.
That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.
Not just any word. This isn’t a pat-your-hand-and-bless-your-heart kind of word. Who needs that?
Listening to God regularly, He brings a good word at the right moment, speaking to the true need of the heart. What we have heard, we often have an opportunity to share.
When we make a regular habit of deeply listening to God through His word, it comes back out in powerful ways that make a difference in the lives of hurting people.
God can also prompt us to encourage someone, often bringing them to mind with a purpose. Earlier today, God brought a friend to mind with a nudge to encourage and pray. This is another form of listening to God. I gave her a call. Turns out she was having a hard day and was deeply strengthened by my simple response to God’s prompting.
Truth#6: Listening to God changes us.
When God speaks, the Holy Spirit helps us to listen and learn. Reading, listening, and revelation merge like threads woven into a single cord. We embrace the truth He speaks and we obey. We put it into practice.
“I was not disobedient, nor did I turn back.”
When the Holy Spirit speaks God’s truth, it has the power to change us–to turn us from rebellion to obedience. We let go of the frustrating cycles of trying to do it on our own, and obedience moves us forward.
How does God change our lives?
God changes our lives as He opens our ears, awakens our attention, and we respond…one day at a time. I expanded this blog post in a chapter of my book, Holy in the Moment. For more help and encouragement for hearing God check out the book! I frequently write about listening to God and growing deeper in God’s Word. Sign up for my emails for practical inspiration to cultivate a deeper life with God, others, and yourself.
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More Posts about Listening to God:
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