Hearing God

by Maritza Rivera

When I was younger, I had this idea about God’s voice. In my mind, God’s voice was a very low, bass voice that had a bit of an English accent to it. Well, many years later, I have come to know that God speaks in many ways.

Have you ever wondered what God’s voice sounded like? Perhaps you have been longing to hear His voice. Have you ever prayed for God to speak to you about something? Have you ever had to make a decision and in your desperation, you have called out to God to speak out, to speak loudly?

Over the years, I have learned that God always speaks to us. He hears us and He speaks to us. What I have also learned is this: If you are having a hard time hearing the voice of God, it is probably because there is too much noise around you.

Elijah was a man who had no problem hearing God’s voice. The first time we read about him is in 1 Kings 17, and right off the bat, we read that ‘the word of the Lord came to Elijah.” Imagine hearing God like that… just like that! He continued to hear God’s voice throughout that chapter. Every time Elijah needed provisions, God was there speaking to him – guiding his way.

However, believe it or not, there was a period when Elijah had a hard time hearing God. Later on in that same story, around three and a half years later, Elijah confronts the sin of Israel just as God had commanded him. He challenges the false prophets of the time and comes out victorious. Having just defeated the 450 prophets of Baal, and believing God to end the drought (which God did), Elijah runs in fear for his life and shelters himself in a cave. (1 Kings 18)

So many things to talk about….

First, if you want to hear the voice of God, do not run away. A lot of us run away from situations because of many reasons. Elijah ran out of fear. Running from the people he feared also meant he was running from God. Where was the faith that Elijah had just put into practice a few verses earlier? The faith that carried him to victory over 450 vicious false prophets.

Being far from someone does not let you hear his or her voice any better. The further away from something you are, the less likely to hear it. Stay close to God. I do not mean in the physical, I mean in the spiritual. Keep the faith. Take the fear captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Next, we see that Elijah runs toward the wilderness. The lesson here is this: God is everywhere, so running away from God to a ‘wilderness’ means nothing. If you are running to avoid people that is one thing, but if you are running to avoid God, it is not going to work. God is omnipresent. He is everywhere. Do not think you can outrun God.  Psalm 139:7-8 says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Read the whole chapter when you get a chance.

The wilderness will teach you a few things. The first I have learned is that solitude in a self-imposed wilderness begets self-pity and bitterness. These two are a very dangerous mixture that can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. Do not deliberately run into a wilderness. Elijah did. He ended up desiring death. However, Jesus is life. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The enemy will whisper lies into your mind to kill, steal, and destroy your purpose. Jesus came to give us life and life in abundance.

Thirdly, if you want to hear the voice of God, learn his language. God speaks in many different ways. Read the word of God and let it speak to you. Read the word of God so that you can learn whom He is and how he communicates. God did not leave Elijah even when he was running; he sent His angels with provisions through his depression (sleep in the Scriptures in many instances was a sign of depression), not once, but twice. Man, imagine this. God never leaves us even when we are running from Him, even when we have forsaken Him. That in itself is He speaking to us. He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

SIDE NOTE: Fear is a driving point for far too many decisions in life. Faith is the driving point for believing in God despite the fear we may feel. Faith keeps us on track. It reminds us of God’s power. When we DO NOT make a move despite fear pushing us to make that move, we are putting our faith in action. That is what faith is. It is not knowing what is going to happen, but trusting that God will take care of it, even though my fear seems greater than my faith at that moment. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 Maybe what has driven you to run from God and into a wilderness is anger, bitterness, rejection, or shame. The same applies. God is near you.

Finally, the voice of God does not always come to us as we imagine. Because of God’s provisions, Elijah has enough energy to journey for 40 days and 40 nights. Incredible. A little bit of God’s spiritual food can give us just enough strength to get out from where we are. God can do this for you. Unfortunately, Elijah ends up right back in a cave, but at least this time He travels to the Mount Horeb. Mount Horeb, although its meaning is ‘desert’, was the same mountain that Moses would climb up to speak with God. Sometimes we have to remember what God has done. In that cave, God speaks to Elijah. He calls out to him.

Many times, we call out to God to speak to us, but what we really need is His presence. Elijah called out to God and God spoke, but Elijah needed more. He needed to feel God’s presence. God is so good that He will speak to us and show us who He is, but it may not always come the way we expect.

"Then he [Elijah] was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God, God will pass by.” A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper." -

1 Kings 19:11-12 MSG

God was not in the wind. God was not in the earthquake. God was not in the fire. God spoke in a still, small voice. God will often speak to us in a still, small voice on purpose. It is just soft enough that we are forced to lower the volume of the things in our life to hear HIM. Learn how to listen. Learn how to hear Him. Learn how to drown out the noise.