These simple tips from pastor Laura Smith Harris can deepen our relationship with God and help us hear His guiding voice.
Posted in , Jan 20, 2022
Sandra Farney from Reno, Nevada, was on her way to work when she heard a man’s voice in her head telling her she needed to go back home. Marta Kennedy of Springfield, Ohio, was packing for a trip with her daughter when a gentle voice instructed her to pack scissors. Jen Myers in Aurora, Colorado, was driving down the road when a familiar voice from the passenger seat gave her a warning. Each of these people was guided by a miraculous voice that helped in unexpected ways. (You can read their full stories here.)
Whether it’s a whisper in our hearts or an audible voice, God reaches us in ways we cannot ignore. But what if we've never heard this divine voice? We talked with Laura Harris Smith, a pastor, naturopathic doctor, and author of the book Seeing the Voice of God. She states that not hearing God’s voice doesn’t mean we are doing something wrong. We just might need to make some adjustments to how we approach our faith.
“It's like getting on the wrong radio frequency,” Smith said. “We just need to take the time to get back to the right channel.”
Here are some simple ways you can open yourself up to hearing God’s voice so His words may direct you through any circumstance.
It is important that we have a two-way conversation with God. Smith says that as a child, she often felt lonely. Something she did have were her prayers. “To this day, I still use this in my life daily," she says. "I pray to talk with God and get closer to Him."
These talks with God were vital and made Smith more open to hearing Him talk back. “The reason I think some people are inclined to hear that voice is because there is an established relationship there,” she said. You can establish that relationship in many ways, such as writing down your thoughts to God, going on a walk to pray, or using a daily devotional to guide your prayers.
God’s voice may come to us in different situations. According to Smith, it is important to listen for His guidance, even in the simplest circumstances. She recalled a time she needed to make an international flight and could not find her passport. After frantically looking for a while, she stopped and asked God for help. She heard a voice telling her to go to look in her dresser’s second drawer. She’d never put her passport there before. Why would it be there? She opened the drawer and there it was!
“God is going to start with little things,” she said. “You pray to hear Him, now exercise what you're hearing.” These small moments help us get used to God’s voice so that we can recognize it when it comes into our lives.
With so many things distracting us during our day to day – chores, errands, phone calls—it – can be hard to find time to sit with God. However, Smith says this time alone with God is necessary to opening ourselves up to hearing His voice. We can do this by going on a walk during a break in our day, turning off or stepping away from our cellphones, or simply setting aside time to be by ourselves.
There are various moments in the Bible where solitude was an important part of communing with God. Elijah heard it when he went searching for the voice of God in nature. Moses was alone when he heard God’s voice from the burning bush. “If people just get still, get rid of the distractions, it will happen,” said Smith. “I believe that He is constantly trying to reach out to us.” It is sometimes just a matter of getting quiet enough to listen.
Even if we don’t hear God’s voice, it’s important to still allow Him to lead us. In fact, Smith has found that many times when people hear His voice, it’s because God led them to that point. “He can guide your path into a very narrow spot,” she said, “when you have no other choice, but to ask Him for help.”
Even if our hardships don’t improve right away, we can take comfort in the fact that God has a plan for us. In fact, our hardships can bring us to a point where we can hear God more easily. “The trouble we're going through in our life is the thing that's going to help with our intimacy with God,” she said. “It's not the reason we need intimacy with God, it is the very catalyst for it.”
It’s also important that we recognize God’s voice when we hear it. Smith says to look at Scripture as a guide. “No matter what it is—there are times when the voice is going to tell you practical things, when it is going to tell you helpful things…it will align with God’s written word,” she says, “and it will never harm you or anyone else.”
God’s voice may present itself to you in various ways; others may hear him differently. Some describe an audible voice right next to them, while others report hearing a voice in their soul that is not their own. Smith describes many of her experiences this way. “It was as if my heart had ears, my kidneys had ears, my eyes had ears,” she said. “It's going to be different for everybody because everybody's different.”
Though there may be times in our lives where we receive a definitive sign from God, we must also remember that will not always be the case. Yet even our unanswered prayers are still building our relationship with Him and can remind us of His presence.
“We must remember that God isn't a slot machine,” Smith said. “You can’t just put in a quarter and expect Him to tell you the right direction. It's a relationship." A relationship that is always changing, but one that, through trust, will continue to grow.