Believers in Yahushua Messiah [the Hebrew name for Jesus Christ] desire to follow Him.
But in order to truly follow Him, we must learn to recognize His voice.
Let us recall what Yahushua said:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
This verse tells us that if we want to follow Messiah, we must learn to hear His voice.
It is a great honour to hear God’s voice! By His voice, He directs us away from deception, away from all that is false. By His voice, He leads us into all truth (John 16:13).
After a brief introduction, we will list five basic obstacles that hinder our ability to hear Father’s voice, along with how we can remove the obstacles.
We know from Scripture, that God can speak to His children in many different ways:
- as the sound of a trumpet,
- as the sound of many waters,
- as the sound of thunder,
- by an audible voice,
- by a still, small voice,
- as out of the midst of the fire,
- by a dream in the night,
- by the reading and study of His Word,
- even by using a donkey to speak to us!
- (See Revelation 1:10,15; John 12:28-30; Acts 9:4; 1Kings 19:11-13; Deuteronomy 5:24; Acts 16:9-10; Nehemiah 8:8; Numbers 22:21-31; Matthew 13:9,16-17; John 5:28-29; Zechariah 4:6).
We should never limit the ways that Yahuwah Elohim [the Hebrew name for the LORD God], our Creator, can speak to us! But because His voice is often heard in times of quietness, then we may not hear His voice, if we surround ourselves with loudness, business, or other voices offering many opinions.
Perhaps the most frequent way Yahuwah speaks to us personally, is by His still, small voice (1Kings 19:11-13), and often this happens while reading and studying His written Word [the Bible].
The important thing to remember is that God will never speak anything that violates His Word, the written Scriptures! So if we hear a donkey speaking to us, we must be sure to receive only what is in agreement with the Scriptures!
In whatever way we hear God’s voice, we can confidently know that His Words are true, enduring, and powerful (Psalms 29:4; Psalms 119:160). When Father speaks to us, His Words will stay with us, and we remember them. His Words guide us into what is Truth (John 16:13). Yahuwah’s voice has an eternal nature of permanence, as Derek Prince learned in His walk with the heavenly Father:
“One of the things about what God says, is that it has a quality of permanence. You may have many impressions which may be very important at the time, but they don’t have that quality of permanence. But when God has written something on your heart, it’s there to stay. That which the Holy Spirit speaks and writes becomes permanent, it becomes a part of us.” – Derek Prince
So one way we can know that Yahuwah is speaking to us is that it will have a quality of power, truth, and permanence.
Having Ears To Hear
In Scripture, the term “ears to hear” refers to those who hear and obey Yahuwah’s Words (See Matthew 13:8-9,23; Luke 8:8,21; James 1:22).
As we begin our walk with Messiah, He opens our spiritual ears little by little, in the same proportion that we obey His written Word.
Some Believers repent and obey initially, and continue to repent, going on to further obedience. Their love for Father stays strong and intense because of their continued devotion and obedience to His written Word. Thus their ears are more sensitive to hearing Yahuwah’s direction. These Believers have ‘ears to hear’. They will receive further instruction and revelation from the Holy Spirit.
But, if we hold someone else’s teachings, or some group’s teachings, as a higher authority than the Scriptures, we then can become disobedient to Yahuwah. If we are hindered from obeying the Scriptures because of false teachings and deceptive influences, this can cause us to be uncertain of Father’s direction for us. When we are disobedient [‘rebellious’] to God’s written Word, we gradually become prideful and hard of hearing. Eventually we can no longer hear with our spiritual ears (Ezekiel 12:2).
Those who want ‘ears to hear’ will study the Scriptures for themselves, and will choose to obey what the Scriptures actually say, regardless of the opposition of popular church doctrines or well-meaning pastors. Those who have ears to hear, will humble themselves daily in order to follow God’s plan for them. They will eventually overcome and prevail (Revelation 2:7,11,17).
When we obey God’s written Word, it is through our faith, our patience, and our obedience that we begin to cultivate ears to hear! If we are actively developing ears to hear, by obeying the written Word of Yahuwah, then it is more likely that we will hear and discern the voice of the living WORD of Yahuwah — that is, the voice of the spirit of Messiah Himself living within us (2Corinthians 13:5; Colossians 1:27).
Even when we fail in our obedience [as we all do], those who earnestly desire to have ears to hear, will hear the Holy Spirit’s correction, and will make the necessary steps to repent, and restore fellowship with Father (1John 1:9).
Internal Ear Plugs
All Believers in Messiah desire to hear and discern Yahuwah’s voice! Hearing and obeying His voice is essential to 1) walking by faith, 2) pleasing Father, and 3) walking according to His Word. Hearing and obeying God’s voice in the simple commands of the written Scriptures gives us confidence that we can fulfill the plans and purposes that Father has ordained for us.
The biggest reason Father’s voice is hard to discern, is due to our own internal obstacles, our own internal ‘ear plugs.’ We all have internal obstacles that prevent us from having ears to hear what Father is saying to us.
In order to hear and discern Yahuwah’s voice, we must remove the obstacles that would prevent us from hearing His voice. If we want to hear His voice better, then we must identify the obstacles. Once we are aware of the obstacles, then it is easier to remove them.
And so now, we will list five of the basic obstacles that hinder our ability to hear Father’s voice, along with how we can remove the obstacles.
Obstacle #1 – an unwillingness to Learn God’s written Word
This may be obvious to some, but in order to hear the voice of Yahuwah, we must begin to truly learn His written Word, the Bible. To do this, we must read and study it for ourselves.
When we learn what is written in God’s Word, we are learning who God is, and what He is like. Learning and knowing Yahuwah’s written Word for ourselves is how we begin to know His character and His voice. If we learn for ourselves what Yahuwah’s Word says, by reading the Bible regularly, then we will begin to know Father’s ways and His desires for our life. This will make it much easier for us to hear Father’s voice.
If we do not know what God’s Word actually says, our lack of knowledge prevents us from hearing His voice. We need to guard ourselves from what the prophet Hosea said about the lack of knowing God’s Word:
Hear the word of Yahuwah [the LORD], you children of Israel: for Yahuwah has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge [knowledge of God’s Word]: because you have rejected knowledge [knowing God’s Word], I will also reject you, that you shall be no priest to me: seeing you have forgotten the law [the Torah] of your God, I will also forget your children. For I [Yahuwah] desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and [I desire] the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (Hosea 4:1, 6:6)
As these verses teach, it is God’s people who are destroyed for lack of knowledge of His written Word! If we do not know God’s written Word, then we are in danger of destruction! And, if we do not know God’s Torah [all of the Old Testament writings], then we do not truly know Him!
To remove this obstacle to hearing God’s voice, we must study and learn all of God’s written Word for ourselves, so that we can know what God actually says. This is a processs that takes time and commitment.
Obstacle #2 – an unwillingness to ‘Hear and Obey’ God’s Word
To hear the voice of Yahuwah, we need to understand what the word for ‘hear‘ is, in the Hebrew language.
In the Hebrew language, the word for hear is ‘shama‘ [Strong’s number <8085>]. This is a very important Hebrew word. This word ‘shama’ means “hear, with the intent to obey.” Many times, this word ‘shama’ is translated not only as “hear, heard, hearken, hearing, hearkened, listen,” but also translated as “obey, obedient, obeyed, or obeys.”
Here are two examples that show the meaning of the word shama:
- Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they hear [shama], they shall be obedient [shama] unto me. (2Samuel 22:45)
- But they obeyed [shama] not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear [shama], nor receive instruction. (Jeremiah 17:23)
These verses show us that the word ‘shama’ means both to ‘hear’ and to ‘obey.’
In Jeremiah, we find a clear description of what it truly means to ‘shama’ Yahuwah’s voice.
Thus says Yahuwah [the LORD] of hosts, the God of Israel … this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey [shama] my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. (Jeremiah 7:23)
Here we see what it means to ‘shama’ or ‘hear and obey‘ God’s voice. It means to walk in all the ways that Yahuwah has commanded us — that is, to walk as Yahushua [Jesus] walked, by being obedient to Father’s Torah (1John 2:6).
There are many verses throughout the Scriptures that confirm to us that Father wants us to ‘hear and obey’ His written Word. He wants us to walk according to all the written Scriptures, from the beginning — from the book of Genesis forward (2John 1:6).
If we want to hear Father’s voice, then we must have a genuine heart attitude of wanting to ‘hear and do‘ what He says. Without this basic commitment of wanting to do what He says, we will not hear God’s voice. We will instead become deceived (James 1:22).
To remove this obstacle to hearing God’s voice, we must be willing to hear and obey Yahuwah’s written Word.
Obstacle #3 – an unwillingness to Receive God’s Word
Again, this may seem obvious and very simple, but to hear the voice of Yahuwah, we must desire to receive what God’s written Word says.
We may study, and ‘know’ in our mind what His Word says. But to truly receive His Word, we must read and receive His Word — that is, we must act upon what God’s written Word says.
As we are studying the Word, our time of reading the Word offers the Holy Spirit opportunities to speak to us. By reading/studying the Bible, we become more open to hearing the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, and knowing His guidance, which is always in agreement with the written Word.
The more we read and study Yahuwah’s Word, the more we are taking in His truth into our minds and heart. Taking in, and receiving [acting on], the truth of Yahuwah’s written Word enables us to hear His voice. Yahushua [Jesus] expressed this truth when He told us:
Every one that is of the truth hears My voice. (John 18:37b).
You see, Father is really speaking to us all the time, through His written Word! His Word is Truth (John 17:17), and His written Word is His primary voice to us!
If you wish you could ‘hear God’s voice,’ all you need to do is begin to read the Scriptures for yourself, and DO what it says!
Notice what Charles Spurgeon said on this subject:
“The reading of the Word … is a kind of HEARING with the eyes, and faith will often come to men while they are reading the Word of God for themselves. … The reading of the Word is a quiet HEARING of the still small voice of the printed page. Faith comes by the Word of God reaching our minds, and our knowing and understanding it. ‘The entrance of God’s Word gives light.'” – Charles Spurgeon
As Charles Spurgeon said, studying/reading the Scriptures is a way of hearing the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. This has happened to me many times. Studying/reading the Scriptures is a means of building up our faith, increasing our personal understanding of Father’s Ways, and thus, our obedience to Father.
The story of King Josiah in 2Kings 22 & 23, is a good example of the power of simply reading the Word of God.
King Josiah’s ‘heart was tender, and he humbled himself before Yahuwah [the LORD]’ after the reading of the Scriptures.
King Josiah ‘received’ what the written Scriptures said! As a result, King Josiah made a commitment to restore obedience to Father’s Word, not only for himself, but throughout the land of Judah.
If we will begin to read the Bible, and spend time prayerfully taking God’s Word into our mind and heart, then we will be making opportunities for the Holy Spirit to speak to us. An unwillingness to read and study God’s Word, becomes an obstacle to hearing Father’s voice.
And so to remove this obstacle to hearing God’s voice, we must be willing to read and study God’s Word, so that we can receive [act on] its guidance.
Obstacle #4 – an unwillingness to cultivate Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit
If we want to hear the voice of Yahuwah, we must cultivate a sensitivity to the leading of His Holy Spirit.
Sometimes we are not aware of the small, quiet impressions we have within our thoughts. When we begin to cultivate sensitivity to His leading, we can more easily recognize the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
To do this, we must be willing to slow down, and be quiet, especially while reading the Scriptures. We need to read the Scriptures slowly, considering each word, and not speed-reading as we would a novel or newspaper.
As we read, and learn to be sensitive to the quiet impressions within our thoughts, Yah reminds us of other Scripture passages, and He speaks to us things we have not known. In this way of quietness, we can learn to recognize Father’s leading.
But being hasty of spirit will hinder our ability to hear the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit. Many times, our own hastiness and pride, will prevent us from being sensitive to Father’s direction. Pride will deny the necessary steps of waiting, and needing to humble ourselves, and any need to admit our insensitivity, fears, or rebellion.
We need to be more patient, more quiet, and more organised. If we will choose to downsize our activities, and plan times for quietness and secret prayer, then it will be easier to hear the leading of the Holy Spirit. We must determine to turn off the music, the videos and TV, and shut out the many other voices and worldly influences, so we can focus on God’s Word.
Cultivating sensitivity to the Holy Spirit takes time and effort, and a willingness to wait patiently and prayerfully for Father’s direction. Becoming more sensitive to His influences not only helps us recall Scriptures, but enables us to have better discernment of what Father is saying. Cultivating sensitivity helps us sharpen our discernment, and yield to Father’s guidance.
“To obtain the influences of the Spirit of God, you must seek them by fervent, believing prayer, and you must cherish the slightest impressions. You must yield to His softest and gentlest motions, and watch to learn what He would have you do, and yield yourself up to His guidance.” – Charles Finney
To remove this obstacle to hearing God’s voice, we must be willing to cultivate sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
Obstacle #5 – an unwillingness to Walk by Faith
Again, this may seem very obvious to some, but in order to hear the voice of Yahuwah, we need to have a heart that is willing to walk by faith.
When we are facing a particular decision, we will sometimes not be sure what Father is saying, or what He is directing us to do. But those are times when we need to have faith! We need to be patient and trust in the goodness of Yahuwah and His loving care for us, and then firmly believe the trust-worthiness of His Word:
Oh how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those that fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You, in the sight of the sons of men! (Psalms 31:19).
If we truly love Yahuwah, then we will want to learn to walk by faith, so that we can do what is pleasing in His sight (Hebrews 11:6)!
Our highest pleasure is to know, and do, God’s pleasure.
Walking by faith is learning to live according to God’s written Word, learning to trust Father’s Word completely, and learning to trust His great love for us. Walking by faith means we choose to believe God will enable us to obey His will, and lead us “in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalms 23:3).
Walking by faith means our actions will be in agreement with Yahuwah’s Word — the Bible! It means we will immediately dismiss any thought that would encourage us to violate God’s written Word! Anything we discern to be the voice of God, will always be in agreement with the Scriptures!
So if we want to hear and obey the voice of Yahuwah, it will definitely require our “walking by faith, not by sight” (2Corinthians 5:7)!
But wait. Walking by faith is a risky endeavour!
Yes it is! Yet that is the nature of walking by faith! It is risky because we are not sure. We continue to ask ourselves, “Am I hearing Father’s voice and His direction, or am I just listening to my own thoughts and desires?” We must begin to practice patience as we are seeking to discern Father’s direction.
Discerning His direction will often require a time of waiting. And then, sometimes we will not know the answer until after we have made a decision!
If we desire to live a life that is pleasing to Yahuwah, then we will learn to ‘Walk by Faith, and Not by Sight!’ We will begin to obey His written Word, and resolve to follow the guidance that is according to His written Word. Our heart will delight in walking by faith because we know it is the only way to please Father: Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6a).
We have been called to live by faith (Romans 1:16-17).
When we exercise our faith, we begin to grow and mature in Messiah. Walking by faith is the way Father keeps us moving upward with Him. “There is no way to progress in the Christian life, but by faith.” – Derek Prince
In order to remove this obstacle to hearing God’s voice, we must be willing to ‘walk by faith.’
This is a very brief look at five basic obstacles that can prevent us from hearing Yahuwah’s voice. There could be other obstacles, but these are the ones I have experienced in my own life.
I confess: I am not completely free from these obstacles. But just knowing what the obstacles are, helps me be more patient, and helps me seek Father’s grace to overcome them.
Knowing God’s voice is key to walking with Messiah. In our efforts to discern His voice, we must always be vigilant to make sure our direction stays right in line with the Scriptures! We must not deviate in any way from the Words of the Bible! The Bible is our compass, to guide us into all that is right and true!
Anything that departs from the Bible, whether a little or much, is false.
Let us recall also what Derek Prince said: the nature of what the Holy Spirit speaks to us has a quality of permanence. In my own life, I have found this to be true. What Father speaks to me, stays with me; I remember it continually. Yahuwah’s Words endure for a lifetime, as an anchor to our soul.
Remember to hold tightly to the most important source, the most authentic reference, for hearing God’s voice – the Words of the written Scriptures – the Bible.
ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2Timothy 3:16).
- Access through Worship – a very brief look by Derek Prince, at the importance of worship in hearing Father’s voice
- Obeying Torah is Not About Salvation
- The Holy Spirit Will Guide You Into All Truth
- 4 Keys to Discerning the Guidance of the Holy Spirit
- Fight the Good Fight of Faith
- Just The Facts Ma’am: Help For Growing in Grace
- Acquiring a Teachable Heart
- Lead Me In Your Truth: Part 1 – The Basics
- Lead Me In Your Truth: Part 2 – The Ancient Paths
- Seven Biblical Guidelines for Studying the Bible – excellent guidelines for learning how to study the Scriptures for ourselves