Here are 5 easy ways to miss hearing God’s voice when he is actually speaking to you.
1. Reading the Bible in a Rote Way Rather than a Relational Way Will Cause You to Miss God Speaking to You
You can’t say God is not speaking to you when your Bible is closed. God speaks to his people in countless ways, but the primary way that God always speaks to his people is through the Scriptures.
While not reading the Bible is an obvious sign we are missing God’s words to us, just reading it is not enough. It’s very easy for us Christians to start our relationship with God through personally connecting with him but to then slip into religious practices and duties.
True Christian discipline is not when we forsake our desires; rather, it’s when we dutifully practice wise spiritual disciplines as a way of arousing our spiritual desires. In other words, you certainly will not always want to read your Bible, which is where discipline comes in, but once you start reading it the goal must be to move beyond duty and move into personally connecting with God.
God’s word is not just an instruction manual for life. Rather, it is more of a love letter from God to you. When you read your Bible with the motive of hearing what the Holy Spirit is specifically saying to you through the passage you are reading, you will hear from God far more often than if you just read in a rote or rhythmic way to just check that box for the day. As Psalm 119:111-112 states:
Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart. I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.”
2. Allowing Your Prayer Life to Become Full of Platitudes Rather than Passionate Pleas and Praises Will Cause You to Miss God Speaking to You
Just as our Bible reading time can slip into a religious duty, the same is true of when it comes to our prayers. One sign you are slipping into this type of prayer time is when you find yourself repeating the same phrases over and over again all the time. I am not saying that all memorized prayers or prayers that you repeat daily are bad. In fact, I believe corporate prayer is biblical and memorized prayers can be very helpful as long as the heart is engaged when you are praying this way.
But when we pray, if we find ourselves saying little phrases over and over again rather than meaningful prayers, this is when we can start to miss the voice of God. A platitude is defined as, “a plane, dry, or trite remark, especially one uttered as if it were fresh or profound. Synonym: cliché. Examples: ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ ‘Be a team player’ ‘God works in mysterious ways.’”
We all say this stuff from time to time and I’m not saying that is bad. But when our prayers become full of platitudes rather than earnest pleas and praises from the heart, this is a sign we are missing God in our prayers.
3. Skipping Your Local Church’s Weekly Sermon Will Cause You to Miss God’s Words to You
God has ordained the local church to be a central part of each individual’s spiritual growth. All Christians are a part of the “Church” with the big “C.” This is often referred to as the universal church, meaning God’s people who are spread across the entire earth.
But God calls each individual Christian to be an active member of a local church. The word “member” has been tainted in our day and age because it has become a religious and man-made idea. But in the Bible there is a form of true “church membership” that is commanded by God. For example, when you read Hebrews 13 there are phrases like “obey your leaders.” The word “your” in these phrases mean that some Christians have different leaders than other Christians. This is because we are all to be a part of a specific local body in a way that differs from our connection with other churches and leaders.
In short, God wants you to have a local church, a local pastor, and a local spiritual home because those specific people will be equipped by God to specifically speak into your life. If you miss the weekly sermon on a regular bases and don’t have other local Christians you do life with, you will be missing the voice of God in your life at times. As Proverbs 19:27 (NIV) states, “Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”
Church really is messy and lots of hurts can happen there. But love is messy, and God has not “suggested” we attend church; rather he has commanded us to serve the local body and to be served by the local body.
For more on this you can read passages like Hebrews 13, Romans 12, and 1 Corinthians 12.
4. Not Spending Time in Nature Will Cause You to Miss God’s Voice
Christianity has a longline of nature lovers, not simply because it is beautiful but because through nature God says something to the watching world.
Martin Luther said, “Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone but in every leaf of springtime.”
Jonathan Edwards states, “Surely there is something in the unruffled calm of nature that overawes our little anxieties and doubts: the sight of the deep-blue sky and the clustering stars above seem to impart a quiet to the mind.”
Ronald Reagan said, “God’s miracles are to be found in nature itself; the wind and waves, the wood that becomes a tree – all of these are explained biologically, but behind them is the hand of God.”
George Washington Carver states, “I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.”
And John Newton said, “Not only the splendor of the sun, but the glimmering light of the glowworm, proclaims his glory.”
When we neglect spending time in nature, we are neglecting very clear physical pictures of God’s spiritual power. As Psalm 19:1-3 states:
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.”
5. Neglecting to Ask God to Speak to You Will Cause You to Miss Hearing God’s Voice
Lastly, we must not forget the most basic first step when it comes to receiving anything from God – asking. God loves to answer our prayers, but God can’t answer a prayer we never made to begin with. Asking God to speak to us not only moves God to speak but it also perks up our own ears to listen.
When you ask God to speak to you, especially when you ask him a specific question, this causes your own heart to be alert with eager expectation to receive an answer. When we are not alert in this way, we often miss the voice of God when he actually is speaking to us.
As James 4:2 states, “You do not have, because you do not ask.”
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