A gracEmail subscriber writes: “What would one have to do to be able to hear God speak as the prophets did? I hear God through the Scriptures and through the Holy Spirit in my conscience, but what is keeping me from hearing God as Jeremiah did — distinctly and in direct quotation?”
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On our part, we can be sure to keep our spiritual ears clean from habitual or unconfessed sin, and our hearts receptive with a readiness to obey. Most importantly, however, God must wish to speak to someone before someone can truly hear him speak. “Our God is in the heavens, and he does whatever he pleases” (Psalm 115:3).
I also long to hear God’s voice. Like you, I have heard it in a variety of ways — including, on a few occasions, in specific words inside my head. But that depends on God, not on me. No matter how intensely we might desire to hear God speak in a particular way, our wishing does not make it happen. God speaks when he wishes, to whomever he wishes, in whatever way he wishes. Most of all, he has spoken to us in his Son — the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord (Heb. 1:1-2). That greatest revelation provides us a standard for testing everything else.
Far better to focus our attention on hearing God in his usual ways of speaking — in Scripture and in conscience — and to commit ourselves to obey whatever he tells us there. Whether or not you ever hear God’s voice as Jeremiah did is not really that important. He is with you as you commit yourself to him in Christ. In his Presence there is fullness of joy. At his right hand are pleasures forevermore.