Moses had quite an experience when he heard Yahweh talk with him. There was a bush that appeared to be burning but was not being consumed with the fire. There was a voice that seemed to come from the bush. Moses bowed down. It was holy ground, and Yahweh, the Creator of all, was communicating with Moses. Another example of hearing Yahweh is Samuel, who was just a boy serving the LORD. He was asleep in the tabernacle area when he heard someone call his name. He thought it was Eli, the priest. Eli told Samuel that it was the LORD calling and to say, “Yes, LORD, Your servant hears you.” For the first time that Yahweh talked with this young lad, He gave him quite a lengthy revelation that was not cheerful news. Yet, Samuel, on his first attempt, listened and remembered all that was said to him.
Probably, if we had Moses’ or Samuel’s experiences, we would be elated and be convinced that we heard from Yahweh. Are we to expect this way of hearing from God all the time? What does “hearing Yahweh” or “hearing from” or “talking with” Yahweh mean?
Some say that it means that God gives you audible instructions or shows you “signs” that make your decisions for you so that you can be in God’s “perfect will.” There are times in the Scriptures when Yahweh has given very specific instructions in miraculous ways. These times are more of exceptions than a general rule of practice. Problems with looking for signs and a specific word are:
- We have to figure out what Yahweh’s “perfect will” is and not be content until we are absolutely certain He told us exactly what it is. Generally, all that we need to know is contained in the Scriptures.
- Because we are shackled with the burden of having to have the perfect will decision, we get bogged down and can’t make any decision (which is just as unhelpful as an ungodly decision).
- We have thoughts that things will be horribly wrong if we don’t “get” the perfect decision, doubt ourselves, doubt Yahweh, and become fixated on getting the right answer.
- We can easily get tricked into looking for signs that Satan can easily manipulate.
We struggle and struggle in prayer because we feel like we don’t get the answers we need and may conclude:
- We are sinful and do not deserve an answer;
- Yahweh does not hear us, or maybe we even doubt Yahweh as God; and/or
- We do not have the ability to really listen to Yahweh.
Unfortunately, thinking that there is just one perfect will causes us to miss out on what we could be doing to serve Yahweh. We become crippled waiting for an answer. What hearing Yahweh means to us is that we develop a peaceful, quiet, and faithful way of just being in Yahweh’s presence all the time, listening to Scriptures in our heart and Yahweh by way of the holy spirit on a continuous basis.
Our life, when we accept Jesus as Lord, is rooted in a foundational pattern of reading and meditating upon the Scriptures, praying, and living out these Scriptures in everyday life. We use our free will to discipline our thoughts to conform to His thoughts. We understand that God does not want to have us to be mini-robots but instead use our God-given personalities, intellect, and desires to live within the freedom of the spirit of God within us. Dallas Willard, in his book Hearing God, makes the following statements and quotes Gary Friesen about perfect will:
In his book Decision Making and the Will of God, Gary Friesen, has done a masterful job of critiquing the view that God has one particular thing for you to do in a given case, that correct decision-making depends on your finding out what that thing is and that if you miss, you will be in God’s permissive will at best – and a second-class citizen in the kingdom of God. Arguing against this extremely harmful view, Friesen says,
The major point is this: God does not have an ideal detailed life-plan uniquely designed for each believer that must be discovered in order to make correct decisions. The concept of an “individual will of God” [in that sense] cannot be established by reason, experience, biblical example or biblical teaching.
So the perfect will of God may allow, for a particular person, a number of different alternatives. For most people, for example, a number of different choices in selecting a partner (or none at all), various vocations, educational institutions or places of residence may all equally be God’s perfect will – none being in themselves better or preferred by God in relation to the ultimate outcome desired by him.
The sincere seeker should assume that this is so and should move forward with faith in God if no specific word comes on the matter concerned after a reasonable period of time….
Just as character is revealed only when we are permitted or required to do as we want, so also the degree and maturity of our faith are manifested only in cases where no specific command is given. It is not a great and mature faith that merely does what it is told. Rather – in the words of William Carey as he went out to India as a pioneer missionary – such a faith is one that “attempts great things for God and expects great things from God.” It actively gets on with the work to be done, the life to be lived, confident in the good-hearted companionship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Human initiative is not canceled by redemption; it is heightened by immersion in the flow of God’s life. People with a mature vision of God and extensive experience in his way have no need to be obsessively anxious about doing the right thing. For the most part they will simply know what is right. But their confidence is finally not in a word from the Lord but in the Lord who is with us (pp. 207-208). Willard, D. (1999), Hearing God, Inter Varsity Press: IL
An example of this spiritual reality is how we drive a car. We do not have to think consciously of everything we do when driving. In order to make a turn, we put on the turn signal, slow down by raising our foot off of the gas and placing it on the brake pedal, gradually slow the car down, move our hands so that the steering wheel moves in the correct direction, stop the turning when appropriate, and then place our foot over the gas pedal to make the car go faster once we have made the turn. These tasks are tedious to read, but our minds habitually do these and significantly more tasks. Our ability to drive comes from experience and repetition. We do not have to give a lot of thought to each of the actions once they are habitual.
This physical example is similar to how our spiritual walk with God is to be. We are to exercise or discipline ourselves unto godliness.
1 Tim. 4:7b, 8a On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things
As we move about with the twists and turns of life, we are guided by the holy spirit. We go to work and take care of families; all the while we are disciplining and exercising ourselves to think praises to Yahweh, receive understanding and wisdom from God, and keep our thoughts on love, kindness, and service to Yahweh. How do we exercise ourselves to be habitually in the presence of Yahweh, hearing Him, and responding to His promptings?
First: We read, study, and memorize the Word, asking Yahweh for understanding.
Psalm 110:11 Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.
Second: Next we pray Scriptural prayers (such as Ephesians 3:14-20) for spiritual understanding and wisdom.
Most of the day, because our hearts have been steeped in the Scriptures and our actions follow those words, we live a Christ-like way through our work, relationships, and activities. But there are times we need Yahweh’s “extra” insights, understandings, and wisdom. Because we are already doing the Word, we will be sensitive to the holy spirit prompting us. We do our part by learning and growing physically and, simultaneously, spiritually.
Third: We add serving the LORD with gladness.
Psalm 100:1 Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.
Take time to be aware of the spiritual connection you have with Yahweh through Jesus Christ. He gave us this gift to be our lifeline to Him until Christ returns. It cannot be overused and should not be overlooked. Cultivate your hearing Yahweh by spending morning time in prayer and reading, continuing through the day with the same prayerful attitude, sharing your needs and concerns with Him on a consistent basis, speaking in tongues, taking moments to be quiet and just listen to your thoughts, and going about serving all. As the song says, “He walks with me and He talks with me….” Willard states the concept in this way: “Spiritual people are not those who engage in certain spiritual practices; they are those who draw their life from a conversational relationship with God (p. 222).”
We “hear Yahweh” as we go about our daily lives, living a Christ-like life. This is walking by the Spirit. This is hearing Yahweh.