Three Voices – Yours, the Enemy’s, and God’s

Years ago, a little girl took one of my prayer classes. She heard from God easily and had a great relationship with Him. But she didn’t realize at first that not every voice in her mind was God’s.

She had a big decision to make, and she told her mother God told her what to do. Her mother asked, “Are you sure it was God?”

The little girl seemed puzzled. How could the voice she heard not be God?

Her mother explained that not every voice we hear is God. Sometimes we hear the enemy’s voice, and often we hear the voice of our own mind.

After a moment of shock, the little girl expressed her frustration, as she realized not every internal voice she heard was God’s.

Can’t we all relate with that frustration? How much easier life would be if all we heard was God’s voice, telling us clearly and exactly what to do.

If Not God’s Voice, Then Whose?

But we live in a fallen world. The enemy speaks to us, loudly and clearly. His voice often drowns out the still, small voice of God.

The enemy is not the only one talking. Often, we hear a voice louder and more damaging than the enemy’s. It’s the voice of our own mind. The things we say to ourselves, and have taught ourselves to say, can derail us. Our own voice, ringing through our mind, can block what God is trying to say.

Early in life, as we encounter hardships which, as children, we are not equipped to deal with, the enemy begins to tell us lies: “You are no good.” “You are stupid.” “You will never amount to anything.” “You don’t need God’s help, or anyone else’s, for that matter.” This happens as early as in the womb! The enemy starts the process, but we take it over. It’s as if he pushes the button on a tape player, and the tape repeats in our minds, over and over. We are the ones who keep it going, as we continue to block the voice of Father God.

Discerning God’s Voice from the Clutter

When you talk to God and listen for His response, it’s important to quiet your mind and let yourself hear Him. When you receive interference – from the enemy or from your own mind – be still. Turn once again toward God, and submit your mind to Him. Let Him speak in whatever way He desires.

How can you tell whose voice you are hearing? The more you talk with God, and listen, and be still in His presence, the more you will know the sound of His voice. Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).

But there are also some checks you can make, to see whose voice you are hearing:

Do the words line up with God’s Word? Then you are probably hearing God. Do the words line up with God’s nature? It’s probably Him.

Do the words sound condemning or unloving? Do the words tear down the value of who you are as a person? That is not God.

Romans 8:1 tells us, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:31 goes on to say, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” God also tells us in John 3:16 that He “did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

God convicts us. But He doesn’t condemn us. When you hear a voice of condemnation, you are either hearing the enemy, or more likely the voice of your own mind. We often choose to beat ourselves up, where God has already forgiven us. We often tell ourselves harsh lies that are opposed to God’s Word.

Whenever you are listening for God’s words to you, check what you hear. Be sure it lines up with Scripture and the nature of God. If you do this check regularly, you will become more finely attuned to God’s presence and His voice.

My article, “Hearing God’s Voice” will help you to practice hearing and discerning through journaling.

What Blocks Your Hearing from God?

“Do you have cotton in your ears?” I remember my grandmother saying this whenever she thought we kids weren’t listening.

Sometimes I feel that way with God – that He knows I’m missing most of what He says. Why?

What Blocked Our Listening When We Were Kids?

Think about what it was like as a kid, when you didn’t listen. What were the reasons?

My list looked something like this:

  • Too busy, preoccupied.
  • Rebellious – didn’t want to hear, let alone respond.
  • Not really sure what the grownups were saying, so I tuned it out, or the words became distorted (like the teacher on Peanuts).
  • Didn’t like what I heard, or didn’t want to hear anything a grownup had to say on the matter.
  • Believed lies about myself, so whatever was really said became muted, muffled, or lost in translation.
  • Too many other voices in my head – mostly different parts of my own mind chastising or ridiculing myself.
  • Or just plain overwhelmed and checked out.

Those, and more, are the reasons we as kids often missed what grownups were trying to say to us. We missed helpful advice and direction. We missed expressions of love and concern. We missed fellowship.

The same can happen today in our communication with God. When our spiritual hearing becomes dull, we miss things.

How Can We Tune in to God’s Voice?

As an intercessor, you are no doubt interested in hearing from God clearly and frequently. How can you better attune your spiritual ears to hear Him?

One way is to identify what blocks your hearing.

This requires some heart introspection. What are the things in your heart that stand between you and God?

I went through many years of inner healing ministry to identify and allow God to remove many obstacles that blocked my hearing and my relationship with Him. I strongly recommend inner healing for everyone. We have all “stuff,” and it affects our relationship with God in more ways than just “hearing.”

Praying to Uncover What Blocks Us

Here is a starting point:

Ask God to search your heart and to reveal the things that block you from Him. That is one prayer He is very glad to answer. He began to answer me when I first prayed like this more than 12 years ago. He is still answering me to this day, showing me things in my heart that stand between me and Him.

Ask God to show you:

  • What lies you believe that are contrary to what His Word says.
  • Where you might hold unforgiveness or bitterness in your heart, or areas of your life where you might need to repent.
  • What lies you believe about Him, based on your relationship with primary caregivers in your young life. We often see God based on how we saw those first adults we encountered.
  • Where you have become consumed by religion, instead of relationship.
  • Any ways that fear or pride might block you from hearing Him.
  • Anything and everything in your heart that stands in the way of hearing and responding to Him.

Then realize that Jesus is here to help you pray through these blockages, to be healed, and to be free. Freedom means hearing your heavenly Father’s promptings, and responding to Him in love and prayer.

God Often Speaks in Silence

As an intercessor, it’s important to realize that you might not hear or sense God in ways that you would hear a person who walks into the room and speaks. God will have His own ways of communicating with you, and often His first language is silence. As an intercessor, your heart may simply beat strongly in tune with His, without you hearing a word.

So don’t take silence as an indication that you are not hearing.

But if you feel blocked in hearing from God (it’s usually a distinct feeling), the prayer detailed above can be a helpful starting point for drawing closer to Him and opening your heart even more to Him.

If you would like to learn more about hearing God, I recommend reading this wonderful article, “How Do I Learn to Hear God?” written by my friend Kerri Johnson at The Center for Inner Healing. It’s a quick read, and it gets to the heart of how we hear God.

Really Present, Really Listening

A classmate shared today about an interview with Mother Theresa, in which she was asked about her prayer life with God. When asked what she said in prayer, she answered, “Nothing. I listen.” When asked what God said, she answered, “Nothing. He listens.”

How powerful and true. Often we are taught (though don’t necessarily “do”) to listen in prayer, but often we forget that God also listens. So often we are waiting for God to speak, but how much more comes from His listening. How amazing that the creator of the universe wants to listen to us! I also love contemplative prayer, in which we just sit with God, not even listening, but just being.

This also makes me think of how our prayer time with God is a model for how we spend time with others. Do we have conversations in which we really listen to the other person, and are fully present with the other person? So often, we are partly listening, partly thinking what we want to say, and partly thinking through our grocery list in our head.

How much more vibrant would the kingdom of God be if we learn how to listen and be present with others?

We can begin to learn this by being fully present and listening in prayer with God.

Hearing God’s Voice

God loves you so much. It is His desire to share His heart with you – just because You are His child.

He speaks to each of us in many ways – even through a beautiful sunset! – and He gives us many ways to hear and understand His voice. In John 10:27, Jesus tells us that His sheep (that’s us!) hear His voice, and follow Him.

One of the ways we can learn to hear His voice more clearly is by “journaling with God.” This is the privilege of sitting at His feet, seeking His heart, quieting your mind and spirit, and listening. Then you write what you hear from God – His words to you, as nearly as you can hear them. Journaling with God is a conversation, and you transcribe both parts.

Start by sitting quietly and inviting His presence.

Let His presence surround you.

Then open your journal – I use a plain spiral notebook, but you can use whatever will inspire you.

Write what you want to say to God.

You might have a lot to say – things you just need to get out and share with Him. You might have a circumstance you want to ask Him about. Maybe you just want to ask, “God, what would You like to tell me?” You could ask Him to help you understand a verse of Scripture. Or you might just want to say, “Hello, God. I love You.”

Whatever is on your heart to communicate to Him, write it in your journal.

Then get ready to write His reply.

Hold your pen to paper and listen.

God will reply.

He might just give you one word at a time, or a whole sentence.

Write what you hear.

You might need to ask Him to repeat something. If you come to a word and you are not sure, pause and ask again. If you don’t hear Him, write that: “God, I don’t hear You. Please help me hear You.” Keep asking, and He will help you to hear.

A word of caution: As you write, you might encounter interference from the enemy and from your own mind. Write what you hear, but realize that every word might not be from God.

Use your discernment: Does it line up with Scripture? Does it line up with the nature of God? Does it feel in your heart like God? Then it’s probably God.

Are there words of condemnation, or sarcasm, or hatred? That’s not God.

Scratch out the words or phrases that are not from God, and continue to ask Him for His words. He will help you to hear from Him, and He will help you discern.

Remember – He wants to talk to you. He wants you to hear Him.

You will find that writing your words to God, along with listening for and writing His responses, will help you to hear Him more clearly and will help you with discernment.

You will also discover clarity, guidance, and healing from God through this process.

Journaling with God does not replace prayer, meditation, or Scripture reading; it complements them.

And it will bless you head over heels, as God touches your heart and speaks to you in ways only He can.

If you would like to journal with God but you are struggling to hear His words, let me know. I would love to pray for you. I teach “Journaling with God” at Christian inner healing retreats, and every time I teach it, I stand with each person in faith that God will help that person to hear His words. I will be glad to pray this for you too.

If you read my book, Renewing, you will see some of what I’ve heard and written from God through journaling. In each entry of the Renewing journal, I am seeking God on a verse of Scripture, asking for His words of renewal for those who have received inner healing in certain areas and are walking it out. Every time I’ve asked, He has responded, and His words have touched my heart deeply. I hope they will touch your heart as well.

“Rise up, My darling! Come away with Me, My fair one!” — Song of Songs 2:10 (NLT)