Have you ever gone through a hard time of testing and had difficulty discerning God's will or hearing from Him? I sure have. I've heard people say things like "The teacher never talks during the test," but that is not what the Bible says. When we receive the Spirit of Jesus in our hearts, He becomes our Guide, but fear, anxiety and frustration can make it hard to hear that still small voice inside. My goal is to help each reader learn to use 5 simple steps to hear God better.
First, let's start by taking a look at God's promises to help us. The Holy Spirit is called our Paraklete, our counselor, helper and guide. This word is a legal term that describes a counselor who comes alongside us to give advice and help us through difficult situations.
Proverbs 3:5-6 promises us that God will lead us:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path (or make it straight).
John 16:13 shows us that the Holy Spirit serves as our guide, fulfilling this promise:
When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever he hears He will speak and will declare to you the things that are to come.
John 14:26 show us how the Holy Spirit reminds us of the things we need to know and helps us to remember Scripture to make it through tough times and difficult decisions:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Not only does He speak to us and guide us, but the Bible says that He specifically does so in the very worst times of trial and in the most serious moment of need:
But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. -Matthew 10:19
When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; 12for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." -Luke 12:11-12
This poor advice about God not speaking during our trials, our moments of testing, needs to be silenced. In addition to Matthew and Luke, Mark weighs in on this issue in chapter 13, verse 11:
And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.
God speaks during our test. But fear, panic, confusion, stress, all of these things make it hard to hear and to think clearly. The question is, what should we do when it is hard to hear Him? Hear are some practical steps to hear from God and discern His will.
1. Seek answers in His Word. If the Bible has a clear answer for your situation, follow it.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. -1 Timothy 3:16
God's Spirit and power is in His word and He speaks to us through it, so make good use of it.
2. Pray. Don't give up or give in. Keep talking to God. Keep the communication open.
Rejoice in Hope. Be patient in affliction/tribulation. Be Persistent in Prayer. -Romans 12:12
3. Seek Wise Counsel. Let others encourage you in difficult times. 1 Corinthians 14:3 says:
The one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding, encouragement and consolation.
These 3 words in Greek are oikodome, paraklesis (like Paraklete--our helper) and paramuthios. They describe bringing a person peace, calming them down, helping them grow in wisdom and spiritual strength and providing counsel and guidance to help in a difficult situation. This is how the Holy Spirit speaks to us through others when we are having trouble hearing for ourselves.
4. Silence the Voice of the Enemy 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us that:
"We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."
The Old King James starts that verse saying to cast down or throw out imaginations. Fear and panic can mess with our heads. Don't let anxiety and frustration drown out that still small voice inside. We need to throw out negative thoughts that are full of doubt and speak over them with the Word of God.
5. Be Strong and At Peace Let faith calm your fears. Don't be troubled or afraid. Sometimes God speaks in a still small voice. Don't let that voice be drowned out by the raging waters of worry:
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them. For the it is Lord your God who goes with you. He will never leave you, nor forsake you. -Deuteronomy 31:6
That phrase, He will never leave you, nor forsake you, is repeated throughout Scripture from the Old Testament to the New. God's faithfullness and steadfast love is one of the primary messages of the Bible. God will not abandon you in your test. Psalm 37:25 says:
I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging for bread.
If you are a believer, you are in a right standing with God and He will never forsake you. We are his children and God loves us. Not only does this verse speak of God meeting our physical needs, but Bread, in the Bible is what prophets were paid. "Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." We are God's children. His word is our daily bread. He will not deny us the opportunity to hear His voice. I have personally struggled with this. There have been times where there was so much stress, anxiety and upset feelings over so many things that it has been hard to hear God. But I know that He has not abandoned me. Spending time reading the Bible has really helped me to break through. This life is full of tests and the key to quieting our souls is to open our mouths in prayer and listen for God's answer. Read the word. Pray. Seek Wise Counsel. Silence the enemy. Be strong and at peace. And remember: Both Teacher and Student get to talk during this test. God will show you the way to go:
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. -Isaiah 30:21