Why Is Listening to God So Hard?


To hear God’s voice, we must take the time to pray, read God’s Word, and meditate upon the Word.

It is possible to hear God speak to us, but this requires some discipline and patience on our part; to hear God’s voice, we must take the time to pray, read God’s Word, and meditate upon the Word.

Time and time again, when I make myself stop and get down on my knees and pray—really talk to God and listen for His voice—I get direction. I get words of affirmation (which are money for a words of affirmation guy like me). And I get correction.

The other morning, I rushed into my time with Him. I said a few words of praise, gave a blanket confession for anything I’d screwed up, and then prayed my trusty phrase God often responds to. I used the words Eli gave Samuel when he figured out God was speaking.

I said, “Speak, your servant is listening.”


I glanced at the clock and prayed my other ‘tried and true’ phrase:

“Jesus, what would you have me do today?”

Clear as a bell, here’s what came into my mind.

“Regi, if you think you’re going to rush in here, repeat your rote words and expect me to speak to you on queue, that’s not happening. I love you more than that. I want a relationship. No magic words…I want a conversation.”

I smiled. I was embarrassed, but felt so, so loved. Sounds just like Him doesn’t it? My perfect Father giving me a clear rebuke. I respect Him. I respect the way He’s my friend and my Father at the same time. How He corrects, but doesn’t make me feel stupid or small. And I know exactly what to do different.

I’ll shoot straight with you here: there are times when I hear nothing, no matter what I say or do. When it happens, I know it’s me. A lack of focus. A distracted mind. Usually in a hurry. I’ll say “God, I love you. I’m depending on you today”, and I’ll move on. I’ll try to think back to the last thing He told me, because that’s usually where I’m hung up. He said something that didn’t ‘register’. Or He gave me something to do and I didn’t do it. Sometimes, I’m just physically, mentally and emotionally tired. I rest and come back to our conversation another day.

Other times…if I wait and stay quiet long enough…He’ll speak. “I love you Regi” comes quietly into my mind. No matter what I wanted an answer to or how anxious I might have been over something, having the Creator of the universe say He loves me is enough. To have Him know my name and call me by it. Amazing how satisfying and calming.

And then sometimes I’ll pray and ‘hear’ stuff that’s confusing. It sounds like God, but it’s a little off. Too simple or easy. Or it doesn’t sound like an answer He would give.

I still remember what Charles Stanley said about this years ago. It might be the first teaching about listening to God and walking with Him that I really understood. Dr. Stanley posed five questions to test if what you’ve heard is from God or not.

  1. Is the answer/instruction consistent with Scripture? God will never direct us to do something that conflicts with His Word.
  2. Will the answer challenge your faith? If the direction is the “easy way out” and doesn’t require faith in God to execute, put a check on it.
  3. Does the answer conflict with human wisdom? Oftentimes, God’s ways are not our ways and what He directs us to do seems weird and backward in our 21st century culture.
  4. Does it require courage? God’s path is rarely the easy one. It’s not unusual for His direction to require guts to follow. He’s often giving assignments where we have to take risks…to trust Him. He’s building our faith!
  5. Does the direction ‘clash’ with my fleshly nature? Sometimes God will lead me into things that require extraordinary effort…or self discipline. I’ll have to go against “what comes naturally”.

If you’re a new Christian or if you’re new at this praying stuff, don’t panic. Keep talking to Him. Keep listening. If there’s “noise” and you can’t hear or don’t understand, talk to Him about it. Ask Him to help you. He wants intimate ‘minute-by-minute’ relationship bad enough to create us and then to redeem us. He’s there. He’s speaking. Don’t give up until you’re communicating with Him. “My sheep hear my voice” Jesus said. He was talking about us.

Question: Will you give God the time to speak?


Truth to Go: The Earnest Prayers of People in Crisis
Crossroads Global Media Group
Prayer is Relationship
Lanny Donoho
The Power of Faith and Prayer
Ashley and Jane Evans
What Are Some Hindrances to a Potent Prayer Life?
Hindrances in Prayer
Dr. Charles Stanley
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