As a minister, I often have people express to me their frustration that they can’t “hear” God. They’ve prayed and asked God to show them something, give them some sign, speak to them, or provide them with clarity and direction about a certain situation; however, God doesn’t “show up” or speak up the way they want him to. So, they come to me complaining that God is ignoring them and they are angry with God because of it.
Yet, very few of these people stop to consider that the problem might be on their end.
The stories about God in the Bible indicate that God does indeed “speak” in a wide variety of ways, so much so that it’s safe to say that the issue of communication with God is not on the transmission end. That means that the problem is on the receiving end.
So, what’s causing so much static in your life that you can’t hear God?
Several years ago, at Alameda’s annual Ray Evans Seminar, Rick Atchley addressed this very question and gave the following three reasons why many people feel that they are not hearing from God:
An Arrogant Mind
Whenever we think that we know it all, we typically don’t listen to anybody well. And why would we listen to others if we don’t think we can learn anything new from them? Unfortunately, this attitude also extends to our relationship with God.
To hear from God, we need to have a teachable spirit.
In Acts 17, Paul and Silas go to Berea. There, they are invited to teach in the Jewish synagogue. Their audience is described like this: “…they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (v. 11). The Bereans were able to hear God, through the teaching of his word, because they were eager to listen and learn.
We need to have the same mindset when it comes to hearing from God. If we don’t, we will not be in a position to receive guidance from God. God wants to speak, the question is do we want to hear?
A Disobedient Spirit
Sometimes the reason we can’t hear from God is because of our sin. Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”
Our sin will keep us from seeing and hearing God.
You know those moments when it feels that God is far from you? That feeling is most often the result of our actions creating distance between us and God.
James 1:21 says, “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” Here, James says that God has spoken to us by planting his word in us. The transmission has taken place. Our job is to get rid of the sin in our lives that’s causing static and making it difficult to hear God by accepting his word.
Why would we expect anything else? Why should we expect God to be close to us when we have willfully distanced ourselves from him by our sin? Why would we expect to hear God when, by our sin, we are telling him that we don’t care what he says?
A Flippant Will
James 1:22-25 encourages us to be doers of the word, not just hearers only. He says this because our lack of putting God’s word into practice will keep us from fully understanding God. But many of us act like we can put God on hold and we can respond to him whenever we choose. That kind of flippant attitude toward the word of God keeps us from truly hearing God’s Word. A flippant will also prevents us from understanding that God doesn’t speak to be heard; he speaks to be obeyed.
If you’re having trouble hearing God, the first thing to do is to check out the situation on the receiving end of the transmission.
Are one of these three things causing static for you?
Here’s Rick’s entire message if you would like to watch it…