Learning To Listen To God

“Are you listening?” a mother asks her child. She knows the child’s hearing is fine, but wonders if her child is attending to what is being said. Is the child really listening? Appearances don’t always tell the story, for we learn early to look attentive when our thoughts are far away.

“Are you listening?” our Heavenly Father may ask.

We know that we must try to listen for God’s voice in our lives. We know that God is perfectly good and just, and so hearing God’s will for our lives will be immeasurably beneficial. In order to hear from God, we must (1) make ourselves available to God with the proper attitude, and (2) learn discernment; that is, the ability to tell whether we have really heard from God or not.

(1) Availability and Attitude

There are many things that can distract us from spending time with God. Even at times when we try to make ourselves available for God, our minds may wander to other subjects. Making quiet time, free from as many distractions as possible, is difficult but important. The proper attitude is also important. Attitudes such as humility and courage are important. We have to humbly recognize that we don’t have all the right answers, and prepare our hearts so we have courage to do what is right, no matter how our fears or selfish ambitions may try to persuade us otherwise.

(2) Discernment

Someone who knows what God is like knows His voice. Therefore, we must make time to improve our knowledge and relationship with God, through study of scripture, quiet prayer, and fellowship (learning from fellow Christians). Emotions are a part of discernment, but making a choice because you “feel” it is right is only one piece of the equation. We shouldn’t discount entirely how we feel, but at the same time we must be careful to separate what is God’s will for us and from our own desires. The first test is that God’s voice will never contradict His word, the Bible. That is one reason why study of scripture is so important. Quiet, dedicated prayer time is also important in order to try to block out distractions of everyday life.

Take this study to learn more about listening to God!

One caution before we continue: Sometimes Christians will use phrases like “God told me …” haphazardly. Every second word out of their mouths seems to be personal, direct revelations of what God has supposedly told them. I don’t doubt for a minute that God speaks to us. But just be careful. Before you say “God told me …” you’d better be sure, because if you’re claiming God said something when He didn’t, you are speaking untruth about Him, in other words, you are blaspheming against Him. This understores the importance of thinking carefully about the important topic of listening for and discerning God’s voice.

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1. Do you think it is possible to actively listen for God's voice? Why or why not? More thoughts...
How can we discover God's will for our lives if we don't listen for God's voice?
2. We know that rarely, if ever, will we literally hear God's voice, in what ways can God speak to us? More thoughts...
When you pray, how much time is spent speaking, and how much is spent listening? Could it be God has been speaking to you but you haven't heard because you've been doing all the talking?
3. Read Luke 10:38-42. What is Jesus' reaction to Mary sitting and listening to Him? More thoughts...
When Martha complained, how did Jesus respond?
4. What distracts us from hearing God's voice? More thoughts...
Think of a time that you can set aside to just sit quietly. What distracts you during these times? Make a list of some ways that you can overcome these distractions.
5. Why should we be careful about saying "God said to me..."? More thoughts...
Even if we feel God is speaking to us, we must be careful that we are not being deceived by the deceiver (Satan). Claiming direct, specific revelation from God could be considered prophecy, a gift not everyone is given. List some ways that we could be deceived by the wrong voice.
6. How can we learn to recognize God's voice? More thoughts...
Only by knowing God can we begin to discern His voice, and the main way we can do that is by studying His word in the Bible. What should our response be if we receive a message that seems to contradict God's word? How can we guard against being swayed by our emotions?
7. Read Jesus' words in John 10:27: "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me". What does this verse say to you about hearing God's voice? More thoughts...
Define what a hearing ear and a pure heart might look like.
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