Not Hearing From God?
After I was saved, I had a dramatic experience were I was able to hear the voice of God very clearly for a span of about six weeks. During that time His voice was unmistakably clear, but gradually it faded to a barely detectable whisper. I began attending a church, reading the bible and I listened to audio sermons online. This was a time of having my mind established in the foundational truths of Christianity that I desperately needed. I don’t regret that season of my life at all. But during this time I seldom (if ever) heard the voice of God clearly for myself. Most of what I would refer to as “hearing from God” came through messages that were given by church leaders. But the day finally arrived when God wanted to teach me things that men couldn’t teach me and show me things they didn’t have a grid for. I needed to learn from a different teacher. I needed to start hearing again from God Himself. So I broke away from the teaching I had grown accustomed to and got myself under the direct instruction of the Holy Spirit. It’s been an amazing journey ever since.
Today, I don’t have anyone in my life that I would call a pastor, although I have many people whom I would call mentors. These men and women are essentially my spiritual peer group. We see each other as friends and equals. There is no structure of hierarchy in this group. We all receive encouragement, instruction, and occasionally correction from others in the group if and when we ask for it, but we tend to receive most of our instruction directly from God. I still listen to audio messages once in a while and I occasionally attend conferences. I get a lot of benefit from reading a good book. But these sources of information are not where I get most of the direction for my personal life. They serve more as confirmation of the things God tells me personally. And none of the people I learn from have earned the right to tell me what’s best for me. That responsibility belongs solely to God.
I’m not suggesting that having a pastor is a bad thing. I think we all need someone trustworthy to help us with our walk, especially when we’re spiritually immature. I’m only relating how God needed me to stop relying mostly on teaching from men so that I could come under His direct instruction. After we’ve matured as believers, there comes a time when we need to lean more on God for direction than we do on His kids. Today I feel as though Jesus is my overseer, my covering, my big brother and the Shepherd of my soul, and the Holy Spirit is my schoolmaster. The apostle Paul shared his own story about how he did not go to Jerusalem to be taught by the other apostles after his conversion, but instead he went to Arabia and was instructed by the Lord, personally (see Galatians chapter 1.)
It’s easy to become dependent on men and women we respect to teach us about God. Frankly, it’s probably a lot easier for most of us to listen to a podcast or video than it is to spend an hour in silence allowing God to speak our spirit. I don’t mind sharing with you what the Lord teaches me, but I would advise you not to become too dependent on me or anyone else as your main source of instruction. At God’s request, I made myself dependent on Him, and that ended my dependence on man. He honored my willingness to come to Him directly and He’s made it fairly easy for me to hear and see what He wants me to know. Had I chosen to continue relying on men, I probably would not be hearing from Him as easily as I do today. (By “easy” I don’t mean that I hear an audible voice speaking to me all day. I hear Him mostly through barely perceptible thought impressions, like most people do. It’s just that after a while, discerning His voice isn’t as hard as it is at the beginning.)
If you’re content to hear from men, the Lord will allow you to be instructed by them. But if your heart’s desire is to be instructed by God, He will draw near to you and teach you Himself, like any good father would. Part of the dynamic of hearing God’s voice clearly is deciding in your heart that you want to hear from Him more than you want to hear from others. It’s not always easy to make this kind of change, but if the Lord is calling you to do it, I would advise you to pursue it wholeheartedly. You won’t regret it.
This is an excerpt from my book Hearing God’s Voice Made Simple.