Hearing God's Voice

@RiaanL Your problem is one we all struggle with. Thankfully, God is gracious and trains us to recognize his voice so that in time we can be confident we know when he speaks.

The disciples actually did have the written word. The Old Testament, as we call it, was available in the synagogues; Jesus read from Isaiah in one of his first sermons (Luke 4:16-17). Regardless, you are right that God speaks in other ways than the Bible. For example, through others, in creation, even through a donkey (Numbers 22).

Ultimately, God has spoken to us in Christ. The Son of God is the final Word of God (Hebrews 1:1-2). This is why The Reformation raised the banner, Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone). Only in scripture do we have the record of Christ. The Old Testament foretold his coming, the New Testament is the account of his coming and teaching. Regardless how he speaks, God will not contradict his word in the Bible, therefore we are safest when we hold any message to the light of scripture.

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God knows us more than we know ourselves. He knows the best way to get our attention in the most effective way for us. I feel he speaks to us not in audible words because we probably couldn’t handle it. Maybe we would be in shock and look at only the fact that he’s speaking to us and miss the message all together. I believe he prompts us through the holy Spirit. There’s so many ways he speaks to us without audible words. Here’s an interesting example of how he spoke in Ezekiel 3 1 and he said to me, son of man, “eat what is before you, eat this scroll then go and speak to the people of Israel”.


Hi Riaan,

I know I get excited when God speaks to his prophets in the Old Testament. He continues to speak to his disciples in the New Testament. And He continues to speak today just as He did then: through some sort of “hearing” (Acts 8:26), through visions (Acts 10), through dreams (Acts 23:11), and through other people (Acts 21.) Some “hearings” in the Bible are indeed audible, like when the Father says, “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased,” or when Jesus calls to Saul, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” During these times an entire group heard, not just one person, so that was clearly audible. While I do not know if hearing in that way still happens, I do know “hearing” inwardly still does.

Most of all God speaks through His Word, the Bible. We cannot recognize His answers or His voice unless we know Him and His Word, for His is not the only voice out there. We must know what is truth and life and what is not, otherwise we are vulnerable to chasing our own temptations and being led astray. Being a Christian is about becoming ever closer to God, understanding Him and knowing Him more. And that is done by studying the Bible and praying, which it sounds like you are already doing.

What you desire–the ability to hear God’s Voice–is not impossible for God, for nothing is. If this is your desire, I encourage you to pray for the gift to hear Yhwh’s Voice. If you do, I encourage you to pray also for the gift to discern the spirits, for you will need it.

I also encourage you to (if you are not already) keep a prayer journal. I think we all have times when we feel prayer is so very one-sided and we wonder if God is even listening. But He is. And He is responding. Keeping a prayer journal helps me better keep track of what I have prayed and what God’s responses have been. And if you are learning to hear His Voice, it also helps you to keep track of what you are hearing and if it is Biblical.


Hi @RiaanL, good question.

If His Spirit dwells inside of you, there’s probably no need for an audible voice.
The bible says ‘Wisdom cries out’… but I would say that does not mean Wisdom spoke to you, but rather that if you were attentive you perceived wisdom.

I do not see examples of people having conversations with God in the new testament (except for John’s vision) and would therefore venture to say that is not modelled to be followed.
I also think John’s vision was at the behest of God.

‘The Holy Spirit will guide you into all Truth & remind you the things I’ve said’. As you journal, He may bring to remembrance a thought that will help you do the right thing.
I think that is meant with ‘my sheep hear my voice’.

In Jesus you are His beloved son.
Perhaps I can ask you 'what (else) do you want to hear Him say?

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Thank you @SeanO @dennis.gladden @Russmash1 @RebeccaN @Arno for your responses. Each one give me food for thought. And provides practical advice.


Hi Arno. Thank you again. Let me please provide a bit more insight or background into my question.
Since I was 4yrs old (33years ago) my father entered the ministry. We weren’t in some weird doctrine sect/church, we believe in the Trinity, the Word, Workings of the Holy Spirit, etc. In fact we believe in relationship way more than religion. Since I can remember I loved reading so obviously the bible with is amazing array of stories (violence, intrigue, suspense, love, etc) was a must read. Also talking, praying, praise and worship was and is a daily occurrence.

So my whole life I have done what I believed to be right and what God has told me. I have been drunk once, never partied, never smoked, my wife was my first…in every way, never rebelled etc. Not because I didn’t think I should but because I didn’t want to. I took the jobs I believed God gave me. Made the choices I believed He led me to make. Had confirmation in scripture, from different people, in feelings, etc.

Yet now the last 3 years, I am starting to doubt whether it was purely my choices or really “God confirmed” decisions?
My father is in prison for a hideous crime he didn’t commit (I know because he was with us when the incident “happened” but the court didn’t care about flight tickets, and 10 other eye witnesses). I have been without paid work for 3 years, yet have been doing charity work and community upliftment for those three years. My kids are unbelievably gifted and top of their classes the last three years.
NOW…I am out of money, out of choices and don’t know what to do. The bank, school and shop, don’t take scripture as payment (believe me I asked). So I am wondering whether I am here because of me or where did I miss the “life of abundance”, “lamp unto my feet”, “all things good for those who love Him” etc. verses. And did I really “hear” God all of those times or did I hear me? And where to now?

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Hi @RiaanL, that’s tough questions.
‘So I am wondering whether I am here because of me [YES] or where did I miss the “life of abundance”, “lamp unto my feet”, “all things good for those who love Him” etc. verses [FAITH?]. And did I really “hear” God all of those times or did I hear me? [WHO KNOWS] And where to now? [SCRIPTURE]’

I quit my job, gave all my money away, distanced my folks, based on the influence of a shepherd (who heard from God). Was without work for +/- two years thereafter. It was not easy to rebuild a shattered life.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but God delivers him from them all.

The good news: The righteous will fall many times, but God will deliver them from all.
So you will be delivered, but you will probably fail again, but God remains faithful.

This is what I more-or-less believe:

  • The best thing you can currently do is to do whatever your hand finds to do and commit it to God (Ec 9:10, Ps 37:5 & Prov 16:3)
  • We are ultimately responsible for all our failures and successes.
  • God is always true, and if His word ‘fails’ it’s because of lack of faith, or not being understood correctly.

We should not despise prophecy, but I find it very hard, since basically none of it has come true in my life. I’m still trying to get better understanding about this subject, which is closely related to the topic at hand.

So yes, I made wrong decisions, however innocent my intentions, and the same (probably) goes for you.

In terms of prosperity…
Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. PS 118:25 which I also pray for you.

Nearly none of us are functioning in faith. Peter asked ‘if it is You, bid me come’, not ‘if it is Your will, bid me come’.
What value, what greater good could come of walking on the water? That to me is a utterly frivolous venture. Yet, Peter walked on water.

He said to the disciples ‘you of little faith’, not ‘gotcha, it was actually God’s greater plan this time around, not to honour your faith’.

If you have faith(believe)… it will manifest. If nothing manifests, no matter how much you claim to have faith, you don’t. That’s the hard reality.

In short, those are my thoughts (feel free to disagree).

Thank you for sharing your heart.
Peter and Paul both were put in jail but God brought them out. He shall also bring you out. I and many others I’m sure are praying for your family. Perhaps you are standing at the brink of a miracle breakthrough?
Praising God with you


Thank you

Thank you. You gave me something to think about and research, in the bible of course, and I will get back to you. But really…thank you.

Hello Riaan

I am sorry to read of the hardships that you have been going through and the quietness of God that you have experienced through these last few years. My prayers are with and your family. All I will add is to keep your focus on loving God and others (Matthew 22:34-40). Jesus said that these are the greatest commands which mean that they are intrinsically linked to our created purpose and design. Jesus didn’t ask us to love Him and other only if we feel loved and valued, but to love regardless of our circumstances. One of the most interesting things I found from the book of Job is that God never answered Job why the disasters had come upon him. Job was created to love God regardless of whatever circumstance he found himself in. And at the end of Job after God tells all of His amazing acts and goodness, Job realizes his mistake which leads to his repentance. But I believe Job also learns something else from the experience he went through, he learnt that God is good just for the sake of being good. In Job 42:13-15, Job includes his daughters, which they are named in the text, Jemimah, Kezeiah and Kerenhappuch, in the inheritance that he gave to his sons. This is not something that would have been done in that early culture as the inheritance would have been given to the sons. It is remarkable that through hardship and suffering that the goodness of God does not change, and it can actually be through those hardships where we can become in awe at that revelation.

Lamentations 3: 22-24:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases:
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

Keep trusting God because He is faithful and He never fails. He is good and He loves you and will do everything to conform you to the image of His Son, which will ultimately set you free.

God bless you Riaan and you are in my prayers.


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@RiaanL, I am so sorry to hear of the travesty re. your father and the financial difficulties you are encountering right now. What a pressurised place to be! (To say the least…) :pensive:

You mentioned something else as well that I wanted to respond to. Actually, I am curious to know how you understand your actions and God’s actions…and the actions of others. You said:

Could you expand on that a bit? Do you mean that if some of the choices you made weren’t ‘God-confirmed’, then it would explain the trouble you’re experiencing? As if you have done something wrong, and, therefore, have brought this upon yourself? What if you did hear God ‘correctly’?

Arno mentioned two things that I would like to push back against:

I push back because it actually leaves out a third factor to the list above: the choices of others. Oftentimes, what happens in our lives is outside of our control…whether we understand them to come from God and/or from others. I do believe that we are ultimately responsible for the choices we make in the midst of those factors, but to assume responsibility for everything is, indeed, a crushing burden to bear.

I also balk when ‘failure’ is tied to ‘lack of faith’.

  1. What does that even mean? Faith in what? God? Or some attribute or promise of God?
  2. We do not earn God’s ‘blessing’. ‘Having faith’, in this sense, is a work. We are trying to do whatever it is that pleases God so that He will give us what we want. (Whatever that is.)

Riaan, I pray fervently that you will find paid work to be able to support your family and that your father will have justice recognised in his case. I also pray that you will know the peace and freedom that comes with being relieved of responsibility for things beyond your control. Keep seeking God, and keep making choices you know to be right and good. :pray:


@KMac Thank you for your response. Let me try and have another go at explaining things :slight_smile: concerning the “God Confirmed” decisions.
As I am pretty sure it is a human, or the very least a me thing, to try and find the fault within myself.
My logic works like this: God is good. And all good flows from him. He is a good father (the whole snake and bread scripture) better than any of us. He only has good in store for us, “…in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” etc. etc. etc. My logic reasons then that IF your paths are not straight then you didn’t submit to Him and so forth. So this leads me to question whether the times I believe i “heard” God I actually didn’t because my paths sure as heck isn’t straight. That then makes me wonder… that if I didn’t here Him then, because the fruit of the decisions isn’t good, then I don’t know how to hear Him or what He ‘sounds’ like. And that makes me wonder about the decisions.
As for the faith thing…whenever I hear faith and results in the same sentence it puts it all back in the “checkbox” Christianity group for me. My problem is that if my works/faith then determines what happens then we are back to works and EVERYTHING Jesus did means nothing. He is in me and I am in Him. So when God looks at me He sees Jesus and His faith, not mine. When I pray the Holy Spirit groans and pleads for me through His works and His faith…not mine. But that is my understanding…and as I said I might be completely wrong about most of it. Hope it makes more sense.

Addendum: What I am currently doing is keeping busy, but that can also only last till the end of this month then there is no more $. I am a Level 2 (level 300 in the USA) rugby coach that helps the communities, schools and even the Rwandan National team…pro bono. Then I am a Family Mediator that has a, proud to say, 100 % negative divorce settlement rate…when people come to me for mediation they walk out trying again…also pro bono. Why all the Pro Bono…because the ones I help also have nothing…so it doesn’t seem fair.

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Thank you Brian

@KMac, thanks for your honest response and pushback; how else will we grow.

True that. There are definitely things outside of our control.

In my pursuit of a better understanding, let me briefly elaborate my point of view on faith (which may be digressing a bit form the topic at hand).

I would equate ‘lack of faith’ with ‘ye of little faith’ and ‘because of your unbelief’ (Mat 8:26 Mat 17:20)
In context of the question (“life of abundance”, “lamp unto my feet”, “all things good for those who love Him”) it means believing the ‘promises’ of God. Granted “life of abundance” is a bit dubious :-).
I read into that, promises of wellbeing, which is not invalid, and therefore I supported a response with a verse Ps118:25 to verify/agree with that as a biblical concept.
I also made the point, that regardless of perceived legitimacy, God honours faith, even to such an extent that Peter walked on water (and when he sank, Jesus said ‘you of little faith, why did you doubt’).
I would even say, that if you could believe it, you could literally have the mountain move. But we can’t because we do not believe. I’m not saying it is impossible to believe, I 'm just stating the obvious, as did Jesus, that our failure is tied to belief (in context of the question).
Believe what? believe whatever. Jesus did not qualify that, and in essence gave great leeway allowing Peter to walk on water.
He placed before us life, and death, and the choice is ours. We will be held accountable regardless. If it was good, then good to our account, and if bad, bad to our account.

Good question here… I wonder if ‘without faith it is impossible to please God’ Heb 11:6 speaks to that…
I would say that we have to undo our unbelief (our belief that something is not possible), and replace that with belief (that all things are possible Mark 9:23).
At the very least we have to hear it once (scripture/or what is possible). Perhaps a few times, from different translations that speak to us. Perhaps a few times more, till we reach the point that our knee-jerk reaction to disqualify the possible is not so strong anymore. Etc etc etc until we are fully persuaded and we believe. The question would then be, at what point does it become works?
I also think Heb 4:11 speaks to this: ‘let us therefore labour to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief’.

So works to earn salvation is wrong (and plain impossible). Give and it will be given unto you… works?

Dear RiaanL,

Wow. You are going through so much right now. First and foremost, I pray that God will provide for you what you need; just as Jesus fed 5,000 men and their wives and kids with 5 loaves and 2 fish, so I pray He will provide for you and your family too. I pray that the Church about you will come alongside you as well as walk with you to get out of the financial pit. I pray too that your father will be freed from prison and that while he is in prison he will tell others about Jesus so that his imprisonment might lead to the salvation of others as Richard Wurmbrand’s imprisonment did.

I ask that God would help you differentiate His Voice from your own. It is so easy to get confused. Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels is a very helpful resource. In that book, it gives 3 tests:

  1. Is it biblical?
  2. Is it selfish in any way?
  3. Does it fit with your gifts?

Those questions and that resource may help you find answers to if you were following God or another voice. I cannot answer that question for you.

Also, suffering and pain is part of this life. And often, following Christ leads to suffering. In fact, Jesus told his disciples they would suffer. Most of the apostles, except for John, were killed according to tradition. Sometimes we face hardships not because we are doing something wrong, but because we are doing what is right. As Peter says, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory.” -1 Peter 4:12-13 CHSB

But if you find that some of these results are your own fault, while it may seem like the end, it is not. God forgives all mistakes and sins when we come in repentance. Yes, it will take time to get out of the financial pit. We do often have to “pay” for our mistakes in this life. I have. But we have the confidence that God forgives in full. Thank you for being brave enough to ask if you made a mistake, that shows humility right there. And when we are humble, then God can lead us to where He wants us to go.

And where to go? To God, always to God. There you will find the life of abundance you seek, the lamp at your feet, the best thing of all; though you have nothing.

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Thank you for your words. My only hope is in God and His provision. As for family…uhm…let’s just say it is just us and us alone. As for the church…well…they decided to chase us out of town…literally…when the accusation against my dad started. As for any new churches were we are now, I stopped looking after the 10th one, cause we were told that the Bible isn’t the Only word of God, the Minister is as well and if he says something whether it is biblical or not, it should be seen as gospel. So needless to say that kite didn’t fly.

Now we have a small, very small, group of friends that we have church with when we get together, and that is our support. I am busy reading all the books mentioned and will hopefully get some new insights soon.

I have read that part about suffering and believe it wholeheartedly and have experienced it my whole life. I do believe though that it is suffering based on your believes, I luckily haven’t read that God makes you suffer through sickness, poverty, etc. and that is a great thing since Jesus died for deliverance and victory over those things. So suffering I can do, poverty…not that much :wink:

The scripture just doesn’t support the keep them humble keep them poor mentality…or am I wrong?

Dear Riaan,

We are promised that God will be with us every step of the way and will provide for our needs. He provided food for Elijah to eat and water for him to drink during the severe drought, but that was pretty much it.

I understand what you mean about not being able to withstand poverty. It would be extremely hard for me if tomorrow I had nothing physically. Job did suffer through poverty and sickness for a time. His wealth and health were restored, but I don’t think we can assume it will be that way for everyone.

Jesus died that we might be with God and see Him face to face and to take away the power of sin and death. He offers no promise of wealth and health. During His ministry, Jesus wandered Israel with no place to rest his head, and he grew up in a poor household, as indicated that his parents could not afford a lamb for the sacrifice, but only doves. For myself, my husband and I have spent years waiting for a child to call our own. The message of the gospel is not that Peter and the disciples lived in wealth and lacked nothing, nor that my husband and I will receive the child we have been waiting for, but rather that truly Yahweh is enough. We lack nothing because of Yahweh alone. I have only recently been able to leave the desire of a child behind in order to follow Jesus, and in looking to Christ, I have found peace.

The scripture supports that the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, those that hunger and thirst or righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted will be blessed. But the blessings are spiritual: that they shall see the kingdom of Heaven, be comforted, inherit the earth, be filled, be shown mercy, and be called God’s sons (Matthew 5:3-12.) Never does Jesus promise health and wealth. But He does promise that we will never be alone, that He understands, that He cares, and that our prayers are heard.

I am glad God has blessed you with a small group you meet with. Fellowship is such a gift.

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@RiaanL, I’m so glad you’ve asked this question. I don’t want to repeat others above, but just share a bit of my story and how I’ve learned to hear God’s voice more clearly.

I grew up in a Baptist background and while it wasn’t explicitly stated, our church fell into the cessationist camp. I didn’t really think too hard about if I should or shouldn’t be hearing God. I thought “extra spiritual” people heard from God, but that wasn’t really something for common people.

Fast-forward to my late 20s and I found myself invited to a men’s retreat that I didn’t really want to go to. I was going through a really hard time in my life and didn’t think leaving for the weekend would be a good idea, but my wife convinced me to go. So, to get right to the heart of it, there was a ministry time at the end of the retreat - where guys would pray for others and ask the Holy Spirit to speak. I didn’t think anything would happen because the previous two ministry times weren’t super engaging to me. Then a guy, who I’d never seen nor met before, came up to me and said, “I feel like God wants me to pray for you.” I was expecting some generic Jesus loves your prayer. What he said instead was a complete description of the difficulty in my life and what God said about it, me, and what was to happen (90% of which has happened). I was caught off guard and, to be honest, freaked out. However, I knew it was of the Lord so I decided to investigate it.

There were a handful of resources I came across that helped me understand and I’m going to share the links of a few of the best below:

A 48 min YouTube video: Hearing God’s Voice by JP Moreland

A 12 part series on YouTube (15-ish hours): Signs and Wonders Conference 1985

2 Books by Jack Deere: Surprised by the Power of the Spirit and Surprised by the Voice of God

The “Restore the Spirit’s Power” section of JP Moreland’s book The Kingdom Triangle

And, MOST IMPACTFUL and IMPORTANT, surrounding yourself with a community of people who regularly, consistently, and accurately hear from God and asks lots of questions. Find a trusted and verifiable group, not one of the fringe groups. I attend a Vineyard church and my experience has been one of authenticity (Ex: “I think God is saying this. Does it make any sense to you?” “No.” “Ok, I guess I was wrong.” Or, “Yes, it makes sense.” “Ok, let’s pray some more about it.”)

I hope this helps, and please feel free to DM me as you begin this journey!


Okay. So very thankfull for all the answers given. I have listened and read the resources provided. I still have the same questions though but i do believe answers will come.
I have read some additional books and watched some vudeos but answers just feel out of my reach. So here is an update of what i have done.
Update: i have stopped praying what i want to say but have made a scripture list of what God said and is reminding Him of His promises and words.
I have had to go against the scripture that says you will lend and not borrow and had to approach the school for school fees.
And lastly I have asked for prayer groups to intervene on our behalf.

So lets see what happens in the future.