How to hear the still, small voice of God

Published 7:30 am Sunday, July 23, 2023

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It was ever so subtle, but I heard it nonetheless. A quiet voice said, “Send a note of encouragement,” followed by a particular person’s name.

During that hectic day my mind was so crowded with details and deadlines, it’s a wonder I heard anything at all. A few hours later, the message was repeated, stopping my thoughts in mid-sentence.

I hadn’t heard from or thought about this person for a while, but somehow I couldn’t ignore the inner urgency. So I looked through a collection of note cards and found one with an appropriate quote, “The Lord brought you to mind today.” I jotted some encouraging words and mailed it the next morning during my daily trip to the Post Office.

All I can tell you is I knew the voice I heard was not my voice. Though some may find it hard to believe, I sensed in the deepest part of my heart that God was speaking to me.

“God is always whispering to us, only we do not always hear because of the noise, hurry, and distraction which life causes as it rushes on,” according to English hymn writer Frederick Faber.

Author and pastor Adrian Rogers once said, “I have never heard God’s voice physically speaking to me: it was much louder than that.” Another author and pastor, Bill Hybels, has written a book titled, “The Power of a Whisper.”

He writes, “I’ve come to believe that hearing the quiet whisper of the transcendent God is one of the most extraordinary privileges in all of life – and potentially the most transforming dynamic in the Christian faith.”

Hybels says that God may choose to communicate with someone whether they’re eight, eighteen or eighty. He points to people in the Bible like a young boy named Samuel who heard God calling his name during the night.

In 1 Kings 19:11 – 13, we read about God talking to a prophet named Elijah. “Then He said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.’ And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire.” Then he hears a still small voice, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”

Bill Hybels states, “Hearing from God is not like receiving a text message or reading an email. We humans can get in the way.” He believes if we lower the ambient noise in our lives and listen expectantly, we will hear God’s whispers just as He has spoken to others for thousands of years.

In his book, “Whisper: How To Hear the Voice of God,” Mark Batterson writes, “God often speaks loudest when we’re the quietest…Genuine listening is ultimately an act of submission.” Can you hear His still, small voice speaking to you?

— Jan White has compiled a collection of her columns in her book, “Everyday Faith for Daily Life.”