There are many Christians who are unable, or it might be better to say, have not yet been able, to exercise the gift of hearing from God. There’s nothing particularly wrong with them, but what I reckon they have in common is that THEY DON’T BELIEVE that you can actually hear God speak to you, except you read something in the Bible and it sort of ‘jumps’ at you. They are suspicious of people like me, who say that we ‘heard’ God or ‘God said’ or ‘the Spirit revealed to’ us one thing or the other.
I am sure many think we might just be pretending, or deluded or maybe just plain wrong…playing at a religion we do not understand. Especially as there have been many pretenders, deluded folks and plain wrong, false teachers, who claimed to have heard God say so and so. It is okay to doubt such people who make such proclamations (1 John 4:1), but it is highly unbiblical to doubt the gift! And it would only be reasonable of us to question or doubt your claim to a relationship with God, if you doubt His ability to speak to you too…
For example, I doubt many people who speak in tongues, but because of what is written about this ability in the Bible, I can never doubt the gift, even though I don’t have it myself. I am quite certain that the majority of tongue-speaking Believers today are speaking gibberish by their own power and not as they are led by the Spirit (Acts 2:4). And when I see a congregation full of people ‘speaking in tongues’ and NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON who can interpret, I truly wonder about whether or not these Believers know the Scriptures at all (1 Cor 14:27-28).
I know that not all have the ability to speak in tongues (1 Cor 12:30), just as not all are gifted in prophecy. Regardless, there is a pressure within the Pentecostal movement, with a teaching that all who have the Holy Spirit will speak in tongues, which compels many to fake this ability. I almost succumbed to this myself, but I realised, with the help of the Holy Spirit, that if I faked it, then I would be shutting God out with my unbelief and insincerity. I would be quenching the Spirit’s power in my life, and showing that I don’t truly have faith in God.
So, it is okay if you are among those who are unable to discern God’s voice, unless you read it in the Bible. Do not try to fake it. We are not all gifted the same. We do not all have the same quality or strength of faith.
But I really don’t think it is because God didn’t give you that ability, because He does want to communicate with all of us, and He does so in a way we will understand and appreciate. I think the reason you don’t hear or you can’t discern His voice, is for the same reason that many don’t believe in God…a lack of faith. If you think God has stopped talking to His children, as He did to the Prophets (even though Jesus said that the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than the Prophets who came before (Luke 7:28)), or that God can or would NEVER speak to you without going through the Bible, then do you really expect that you would HEAR or TRUST if He did speak?
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (Jam 1:5-7).
If you desire this gift, it is just as accessible to you, as it is to me, as long as you are in Christ. Jesus tells us that His sheep hear His voice, and they follow. That they will not follow a stranger (John 10:27). So do not be afraid that when you listen for Jesus, the devil will tell you lies instead (Matt 7:8-11)! If you know God at all, you will be able to discern His voice from the enemy’s, by His Spirit of Truth. For we know that “…God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7).
The thing with this gift, is that, like every other ability, if you fail to develop it, you will lose it. But as you train yourself in listening to God and discerning His voice, you will be able to hear Him more and more, and be able to discern His will and leading in your daily life. If, because of fear or disobedience (let’s face it, many times we don’t ask because we don’t want to obey!), you shy away from developing this ability, then you show yourself to be like the double-minded man, who is unstable in all his ways (Jam 1:8). You will be as those who have a form of godliness, but deny its power (2 Tim 3:5).
You can hear from God too, and be sure of what He says to you. It may take some time to grow in confidence with this, but remember that each person’s walk of Faith is different. You’re not in competition with anyone. You should only desire to know God more each day. We should all desire the greatest gifts (1 Cor 12:31), that increase our ability to love God and others more.
The truth is, we might not be right 100% of the time. We may get it wrong or misunderstand, like a child who is learning to speak their mother tongue. But the fact is we are COMMUNICATING with our Father, and this pleases Him… It will always take faith to communicate with God, and our faith also grows as we do so regularly.
So Brethren, “…quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess 5:19-21). Do not doubt, but have faith. All things are indeed possible to him who believes… (Mark 9:23).
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