I don’t think we hear God because, much like everything else in our culture, we want things on our terms. Not to narrow it down to simply three things for everyone, but I have narrowed it down to three things in my personal life. A set of universal principles, I don’t know. What I do know is that until I began consciously and intentionally practicing these three things, I struggled to hear God even when He was obviously speaking to me and much more when He seemed to be silent. In doing three things I have learned to hear God when He’s shouting and when He is seemingly silent.
First things first. Each morning I begin the day-long discipline of knowing I am a broken and wicked sinner; there is nothing beautiful or remotely good about me, except for His presence in the “rooms” of my life I allow Him to own. Some people already realize they are wicked and some emphatically deny it. But what is believed isn’t the determining factor of truth, amen? Until this knowledge occurs, the “seeds” will be snatched away, burned-up, or choked-out and the person will return to whatever lie they bought into originally. There is no reason to listen for God or to God if my fingers of piousness or false innocence is knuckle-deep in one’s ears. They can’t hear even if they wanted to as long as this denial is their anesthetic for the truth.
Secondly, and immediately following the first, I accept this fact. You can know the fact you’re a wicked person, but spend your entire life unchanged because you didn’t fully accept it. Knowing is the beginning of the “tapping into” the potential for transformation or change; where the lightbulb appears just above your head. Acceptance is the beginning of change. Acceptance includes being consciously aware of your sinfulness and wickedness, the willingness to humbly repent of it, the desire to receive and claim the victorious life you are promised by Christ, and responding with worship in Spirit and truth with your heart and with your life. Humility without victory in Christ is nothing more than arrogantly feeling sorry for yourself. The rubber meets the road here and when this step occurs, the car starts moving and every part of the tire, if you continue on, will touch the pavement. This too is an intentional and conscious daily discipline. This is a good recipe for “good soil” I think.
And lastly, once you acknowledged you’re wicked beyond measure with the presence of Jesus Christ in your life and once you’ve accepted this fact, you can now do something that will draw you closer to God than reading your Bible, going to church, leading a small group, or preaching from the pulpit! You can…simply…be still. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” How can you “know” He is God while still moving at breakneck speed? How can you hear God when your ears are plugged with denial and self-sufficiency? How can you hear God when you only know you’re wicked, but aren’t willing to accept it as more than a passing self-loathing thought? How can you hear God when you don’t respect His Word, which says you are wicked and yet, in spite of it, He loves you? Not head knowledge, but acceptance. People do not fully respect those nor fully listen to those they do not respect. And Zechariah 2:13 reminds us that God is indeed, both, sovereignly on His throne and off His throne chasing us with a love we cannot comprehend. “Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because He has roused Himself from His holy dwelling.” The context here is a little different, but the point is taken.
As believers, we do not hear God’s voice because we do not set out on a premeditated journey to a point, not in our life, but in our DAY that renders us knowingly broken, knowingly accepting that brokenness, and simply being in solitude and still before the Maker of you and the Lover of all who open their hearts.