This subject has been on my mind A LOT even before this summer.
From my experience from what was taught to me in church, hearing from God was something very hard to do. If you had an important life decision to make or even a minor decision, it required hours of prayer, pressing into God's presence, and making sure there was absolutely no sin in your life...basically going down a checklist in your mind of making sure there wasn't one sin left uncovered. You were to listen for that still quiet voice in your head after you've cleared out all your thoughts or listen for the first random thought that came to your mind as it would prove to be from God.
This was what I was taught from pastors and books or websites I would read on the internet.
So applied these methods and more often than not, ended up frustrated, confused, and wondering what I was doing wrong when I could not "hear from God"
This post kind of has a tie in to the will of God, but I won't be going in that direction. I want to talk about the unseen danger of teaching this method of hearing from God and making decisions based upon these methods.
First let me say something...
- I believe God is leading us by His Holy Spirit daily
- I don't believe in some kind of deistic God that is not involved in our personal lives in any way
- I do believe that God leads us when we walk by faith on His Word, pray on decisions according to His Word, and trust that He knows what He's doing
- I do believe we come to God in prayer with repentance in our heart and confessing known sin that we are living in
Now first of all I find something very odd. We have all these men with books and teachings about how to hear the voice of God. I have a problem with that because I realized that none of these methods can be found in God's Word.
So where do they get it?
In all the Bible, there is not one teaching from God, Jesus, or the apostles on how to hear the voice of God similar to what we see in books and teachings today.
Secondly, for people who are claiming to get direct revelation from God, even if it's just as simple as what turn to make at the next light, they are claiming that those are God's words and whether they believe it or not, those words are on par with scripture. And if they claim they are not, that cannot make sense because are some of God's words less authoritative than others or less important?
The question is not whether or not we hear from God, but how do we hear from God? Is it by sitting in quiet time and prayer and writing down thoughts during this time or listening to your inner impressions? Or is it by sitting in prayer, quiet time, and reading of the Word over a decision or what to do and making a wise decision that is not authoritative and binding.
Because that's a huge point. if you claim to say that you heard God tell you that this is the right thing to do, or that is the right thing to do on something that is outside of scripture, then you are binding yourself to that word because well you said it is from God.
But in my case and many other cases of people I've talked to, a lot of times we would seem to hear God incorrectly. This would happen to me many times. This would only leave one possibility. Since God cannot lie, the problem was with us in that we did not pray enough, have enough faith, or press into God's presence enough.
See the subtle danger?
It creates another type of works based mentality. Since we did not do the said things above either correctly or enough, we've made what seemed to bad decision. To think that God relies on US and what WE do to hear Him correctly in order that He can work in our lives is crazy.
Notice in the Bible people seemed to hear God loud and clear. I think God knew that the fallible human beings He made would have problems trying to discern which voices in their head were from Him, themselves, or Satan. So He spoke like He was face to face with the people.
But we hear no more of that today. Why? Well we have His written Word which is Him speaking directly to us. But that is not enough for a lot of us and we want more. We are not satisfied with the simplicity of what He's already given us.
Also take notice that God did stop giving revelation to people for 400 years after the Old Testament. This is my own personal opinion, but I believe He has done that same thing again for the past 2000 years.
And again, not saying God is not leading us throughout our daily lives. The point I'm trying to make is, we don't need special revelation in order for God to guide us.
One more point I want to make on the danger of this is how it can lead to people falling away from the faith. I remember reading a message board in which one person who was raised in church had been taught how to hear the voice of God, but in using all the methods, he could not hear God's voice. He ultimately gave up and stop being a christian because since He could not hear God's voice, he decided that there was no God or that if there was one, he wasn't directly involved in people's lives.
In conclusion, I believe that there are three types of people when it comes to this subject. The people that will have no problem with these methods and even though they continue to hear from God incorrectly with these methods, they will continue to try to hear Him better by praying a fixed amount of time or a certain way, etc.
Then there are the people like the man in the story above who will just give up and think there is no God because they know that listening to the voices in your head makes no sense and since they are looking to hear an audible voice and they don't, they give up altogether.
Then finally there are the people that will realize something is wrong with these methods by God's grace and stand on His Word and it alone as God's voice and allow the Holy Spirit to guide them, whether they are conscience of it or not, by the Word working through their lives.