Believers in Yahushua Messiah [Jesus Christ] desire to follow Him. But in order to truly follow Him, we must learn to recognize His voice, from among the many other voices clamoring for our attention.
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 by His voice that He directs us away from deception, and away from all that is false. And it is by His voice, that He leads us into all truth (John 16:13).
After a brief introduction, we will list five of the basic obstacles that hinder our ability to hear Father’s voice, along with the way to remove them.
It is a great honour to hear God’s voice! We know from the Scriptures, that God can speak to His children in many ways — as the sound of a trumpet, or the sound of many waters, or the sound of thunder, or an audible voice, or a still, small voice (Revelation 1:10,15; John 12:28-30; Acts 9:4; 1Kings 19:11-13). We should never limit the ways in which Yahuwah Elohim [the LORD God], the Creator of all things, can speak to us!
He can speak to us out of the midst of the fire, in a dream in the night, by the reading and study of His Word, and He can even use a donkey to speak to us! (See 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).
But because His voice is often heard in times of quietness, we may not hear it, if we surround ourselves with loudness, or with the many voices offering many opinions.
Perhaps the most frequent way that Yahuwah speaks to us personally, is by His still, small voice (1Kings 19:11-13), and usually while reading and studying His Word [the Bible].
The important thing to remember about hearing God’s voice 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 the words that are in complete agreement with the Scriptures!
In whatever way we hear God’s voice, we can confidently know that the Words He speaks are true, enduring, and powerful (Psalms 29:4; 119:160). When Father speaks to us, His Words stay with us, we constantly remember them, and His Words guide us into what is true (John 16:13).
Another aspect of Yahuwah’s voice is its 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 know that it is Yahuwah’s voice 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 one who hears the Words of Yahuwah, and obeys them (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 Word.
Some Believers repent and obey initially, and then continue to repent, going on to further obedience. Their love for Father stays strong and intense because of their continued devotion and obedience. Thus their ears are more sensitive to hearing Yahuwah’s direction. These Believers have ‘ears to hear,’ and they will receive further instruction and revelation from the Holy Spirit.
But if we hold someone else teachings, or some group’s teachings, as higher authority than the Scriptures themselves, we can then 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 Word, we gradually become prideful and hard of hearing. Eventually we can no longer hear with our spiritual ears (Ezekiel 12:2).
Those who desire to have 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. And we are told, those who have ears to hear, will overcome, and will prevail (See Ps 10:17; Jer 25:4; Eze 12:2; Mat 11:15; Rom 11:8; Rev 2:7,11,17).
When we obey God’s 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 — which is the spirit of Messiah Himself living within us (2Corinthians 13:5; Colossians 1:27).
Even when we fail in our obedience, 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 to 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 walking by faith, to pleasing Father, and to walking according to His Word. Hearing and obeying God’s voice in the simple commands of Scripture, 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 Yahuwah’s voice, we must remove the many obstacles that would prevent us from hearing His voice. Once we decide to remove these obstacles, we will be better able to discern Father’s voice speaking to us.
If we want to learn to hear His voice better, then we must identify, and remove these obstacles. If we are aware of the obstacles, 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 the way to remove them.
Obstacle #1 – an unwillingness to Learn God’s 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 His Word for ourselves, and knowing what Yahuwah’s Word actually says, is how we begin to know His character, and to know His voice.
If we will seek to 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 us in many areas of our life. This will make it much easier for us to hear Father’s voice.
But not knowing what God’s Word actually says prevents us from hearing His voice.
We need to guard ourselves from what the prophet Hosea said about knowing [the knowledge of] 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 [lack of the 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 hast 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 us, it is God’s people who are destroyed for lack of knowledge of His Word! If we do not know God’s 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 His Word!
To remove this obstacle to hearing God’s voice, we must study and learn God’s Word for ourselves, so that we can know what God’s Word actually says.
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>], and 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 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 can find a clear description of what it truly means to ‘shama’ Yahuwah’s voice.
Thus saith 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 ye 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 can see exactly 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 walked, by being obedient to Father’s Torah (1John 2:6).
There are many other verses throughout the Scriptures that confirm to us that Father wants us to ‘hear and obey’ His Word, and to walk according to all the words of the written Scriptures, from the beginning — that is, 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 heart attitude 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 learn to be willing to hear and obey Yahuwah’s 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 Word says.
We may study, and ‘know’ in our minds 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 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.
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 Word enables us to hear His voice. Yahushua [Jesus] expressed this truth when He told us:
Every one that is of the truth heareth 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 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 increases our personal understanding of Father’s Ways, which will always be a means of building up our faith, 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 Scriptures said! As a result, King Josiah made great efforts 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, so that we can receive [act on] its guidance, becomes an obstacle to hearing Father’s voice.
And so to remove this obstacle to hearing God’s voice, we must learn to 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 very 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 still, small voice.
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, not speed-reading as we would a novel or newspaper, but considering each word. As we read, and learn to be sensitive to the very small, very quiet impressions within our thoughts, He reminds us of other Scripture passages, and He speaks to us things we have not known. It is in this way of quietness, that we 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 our pride, will prevent us from being sensitive to Father’s direction. Pride will deny the necessary steps of needing to humble ourselves, and admit our insensitivity, fears, or rebellion.
We need to learn to be more patient, more quiet, and more childlike. If we will choose to downsize our activities, and plan times for quietness and secret prayer, then it would be easier to hear the leading of the Holy Spirit. We must determine to turn off the music, the videos and TV, to shut out the many other voices and worldly influences, so that 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 to recall Scriptures, but enables us to have a better discernment of what Father is saying to us. Cultivating sensitivity helps us to 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 learn to 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! That is, we need to be patient and trust in the goodness of Yahuwah and His loving care for us, and then firmly believe in 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 Word, learning to trust Father’s Word completely, and learning to trust in His great love for us. Walking by faith means that we choose to believe that God will enable us to obey His will, so that He can lead us “in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalms 23:3).
Walking by faith means our actions will begin to be in agreement with Yahuwah’s Word — the Bible! This means we can immediately dismiss any thought that would encourage us to violate God’s 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 (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 sometimes 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 Word, and resolve to follow the guidance that is according to His 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; Hebrews 10:38-39). When we exercise our faith, then 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
So in order to remove this obstacle to hearing God’s voice, we must learn to 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 that I have experienced in my own life. And 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. But in our efforts to discern His voice, we must always be very vigilant to make sure that 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 have found this to be true. What Father speaks to me, stays with me, and I remember it continually. Yahuwah’s Words will endure for a lifetime, as an anchor to our soul.
So let us remember to hold tightly to the most important source, the most authentic reference, for hearing the voice of Father personally — 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).
- 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
- Seven Biblical Guidelines for Studying the Bible – excellent guidelines for learning how to study the Scriptures for ourselves