How to Hear God’s Voice

Basic Theology, Podcast Episodes

In this episode we look at how Scripture describes God’s voice and how to hear Him in prayer. We discuss the Spirit’s role in speaking, how to check a voice against God’s word, and how God’s nearness invites us to listen.


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Welcome to Verity. I’m your host, Phylicia Masonheimer, an author, speaker, and Bible teacher. This podcast will help you embrace the history and depth of the Christian faith. Ask questions, seek answers, and devote yourself to becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. You don’t have to settle for watered-down Christian teaching. And if you’re ready to go deeper, God is just as ready to take you there. This is Verity, where every woman is a theologian.

Hello, and welcome back to Verity podcast, friends. I took a little break last week as I was researching for some new episodes. And this week, we’re going to have a shorter episode on one of my favorite topics which is, “How to hear God’s voice?” I know that many of you are asking this very question, how do I hear His voice? I, at first thought about titling this episode “How to listen for God?” But then I realized, you know what? A lot of times our desire is to hear God’s voice and that’s the felt need, that we have, we want to hear God’s voice. As we’re going to get into in this episode, the answer to that problem or that question, is to learn how to listen for God. I intentionally named this episode, “How to hear God’s voice?” But the answer I’m going to give you spoiler alert is you have to listen for God. I’m going to give you some tools to do that in today’s episode. 

This will be a shorter one because, I think, honestly, the Bible is very straightforward about this. It’s very simple about how we can hear God’s voice. But when it comes to practically walking it out, that’s where it gets difficult. That’s where we run into problems. And I’m going to tell you right out of the gate, that one of the biggest reasons that we struggle to hear God’s voice, and to know when He’s speaking, is because one, we don’t take the time to sit and listen, we don’t spend enough time with Him to hear His voice. Two, we live in a distracted age, and we have accepted this distraction and we’ve cultivated habits of distraction. We don’t train ourselves to focus. We create an identity that is unfocused and distracted or even if it’s something we struggle with, or we have ADHD or something, we may not make the lifestyle changes necessary, in addition to cultivating this seeking of God’s face, that would actually help us to hear His voice better. 

Regardless, of who we are or where we are, there are cultural influences, there are cultural pressures, there are internal pressures and distractions, and a spiritual war at play, all vying for our attention, all vying to pull us away from God and cause us to be numb and deaf to His voice. We need to be aware of this. It matters in the day to day, whether or not we are taking the time to listen for God. We’re going to get into how to do that but when I thought about how to sketch out this episode, I went to the word and I looked up some verses about hearing God and about God’s voice. What I see over and over and over is God’s desire to be heard. God desires to be heard by you. He wants to hear you, and He wants to be heard by you. So, His prayer relationship with us isn’t something that we’re pursuing and He’s running in the other direction, or running away from us. He’s not trying to escape us as we’re trying to seek Him. He wants to be found. And throughout scripture, it says that, “God wants to be found, and He is found by those who seek Him,” in the Old Testament and in the New. If that is the case, if that’s the truth God has spoken about Himself, we have to take Him at his word, and trust that the God of the universe wants to be sought, He wants us to hear Him, which means He’s speaking. So, who then in the equation is the one who’s not hearing? It’s us. We have to get better at listening, and that is a discipline. It’s something that comes with time, it’s something that comes with patience. 

So, in scripture, as we go through the verses that I’ve highlighted for this episode, I want you to keep that in mind that this is simple, this is biblical, this is a kind God who wants to be heard, but it’s not easy. It’s going to go against our nature and it’s going to go against our culture. And at no point in history hasn’t been an easy thing to do. If you look at the prayer lives of the forefathers of our faith, they’ll often say how difficult it is but as they cultivated the habit of seeking God and listening for Him, they found it to be a beautiful and delightful thing. 

So, the first verse I want to start with, has to do with the importance of hearing God, and it’s Romans 10:17. It says, “So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.” So, faith, our belief in God, our belief in Him and in His graciousness, His character comes from hearing. We can’t believe what we don’t know, we can’t know what we haven’t heard, “but in order to hear God,” Paul says, “You have to know the words of Christ.” Where are the words of Christ? They’re in scripture, they’re in the Bible. 

Sometimes I’ll be talking to people online who follow my work and they’ll say, “Well, I want to hear God. I feel I don’t hear God,” but then when I press a little and say, “Well, have you spent any time in the Word? That doesn’t mean you have to do an inductive study for 40 minutes every day. Are you listening to it on audio, are you praying through it, are you memorizing scripture?” They say, “No”. And the very ground level of hearing God, is hearing God through His Word. That is where He speaks, most clearly it’s where He’s revealed Himself and every single thing He says through other avenues will line up with what He’s already said about Himself. We need to be in the Word of God, we need to be listening to it, reading it, speaking it back to ourselves, writing it out. However we learn, whatever our learning style, however our brain works, God has given us an avenue, especially in today’s society to consume His word. He’s given it to us, we are able to do that and we must do that if we want to hear him. So, Romans 10:17, number one, you’ve got to hear God’s word in scripture. 

The second verse that I love that talks about this is Jeremiah 33:3, and this one confirms what I spoke about a few minutes ago. It says, “Call to me and I will answer you and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” We need to be in prayer to hear God, but prayer is not just a litany of requests, that’s easy to do. I fall into that. I like to write out my prayers and sometimes when I’m writing them out, or praying throughout the day, I’m listing out all of these requests. I have to remind myself; this is a back and forth, there’s my request, there’s my interest what I’m praying for, but I also have to stop and listen and say, “Lord, what do you want to tell me about this?” 

And in this verse, Jeremiah, God is saying, “If you call to me, I will answer you. I will give you wisdom for the decisions you have to make, I will tell you what way you should got, but you’ve got to be listening to hear the answer.” So first, we’ve got to ground ourselves in the Word of God, to hear God because that’s the first place He speaks. Secondly, we’ve got to be in prayer. We’ve got to be in a dialogue with Him and listening prayer, listening for what God is going to say. Then the third vital piece to this is in John 16:13 or rather, it’s in John 14-16, where Jesus talks about the Helper, the Holy Spirit, and I’m so excited for my book that’s coming out next February, because I have a whole chapter on the Holy Spirit, who He is, what He does, how He works, and why He is so important. I’m delighted that we’re going to have that resource in February. But for now, let’s look at John 16.

“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears, He will speak and He will declare to you the things that are to come.” This is Jesus talking to His disciples saying, “I’m going to leave you, but guess what? I’m leaving the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, who is going to help you walk out the truths I’ve given you.” He’s going to guide you, and He’s going to speak to you on the authority of God and you’re going to have this Spirit dwelling within you. For every single step of the journey. When you become a believer in Christ, when your allegiance shifts from self to Jesus Christ as the center of your universe, center of your life, decision making, you receive the Holy Spirit, Spirit of Christ, who then guides you and speaks to you, and you are recognizing and listening for His voice. That voice will always line up with what scripture teaches. 

So, you’re in the Word of God, you’re in prayer with God, but then you must recognize the power of the Spirit of God who has been given to you. You have access to Him, He is speaking to you, but you have to listen for Him. And a lot of this happens in that discipline of daily prayer, listening for God, asking Him to speak, waiting on the answer with eyes wide open for what He’s going to do. 

This brings me to Psalm 32. Psalm 32 gives us the next step in this process. I love the Psalms by the way. This psalm is giving you a visual of what it looks like to be disobedient and stubborn. Here’s what it says. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule without understanding which must be curved with bit and bridle or it will not stay near you.” So, I don’t know if any of you have horses, I grew up on a horse farm and I was in forage throughout high school and then I was a wrangler out west for a summer as well, leading trail rides in the mountains. I know a good bit about horses, and I did have a horse at one point in my childhood, who was stubborn, and he didn’t want to stay near you. He pulled away, he fought the bit, he fought the bridle, he was a difficult horse to work with. 

As the rider, my goal is to be in in unity with that horse to accomplish the purpose of a beautiful ride together, or if I’m in a show, a well performed round in the arena. That’s my goal. There’s beauty when a horse and rider work together, but when the horse is fighting the rider, you end up with this dysfunction, this inability to communicate between horse and rider. And what Psalms is describing here is what God doesn’t want. God is the perfect equestrian. He’s not jerking our chains; He’s not pulling on us, He’s not beating us with a whip. He is a gentle and kind and righteous leader. So, we have a choice to be like the stubborn mule who has to have a bit or bridle to cooperate, or it won’t stay near him. He’s saying, “I want you to be near me. I want to instruct you and teach you. But to do that, you have to be near me.” And too often what happens is we walk in disobedience, we walk in sin, we walk in stubbornness, we refuse to listen and then we wonder why we can’t hear God. 

When we remove ourselves from God, when we pull away from God, and we aren’t walking with Him, and we are in obedience to His Spirit, it is no wonder we don’t hear Him. How do you solve that problem? You go back to the Word and to prayer and the spirit and you say, “God, is there any wicked way in me?” As the psalmist says, “Show me if I need to repent of something, show me how to repent, how to ask for your forgiveness. And then I know that in Christ, I am forgiven and I can get up from here and I can walk in obedience, and I can hear your voice.”

After a three-year hiatus, Verity Conference is back and it’s coming to Petoskey, Michigan, November 4th and 5th. I’m so thrilled to bring back Verity Conference after our short break of a few years for COVID, and this time, we are much bigger with two amazing speakers joining me, to talk about Apologetics and Evangelism. How do we share our faith effectively in today’s culture, in a way that is both gracious and truthful, you’ll hear from me, Jeremy Jenkins of All Things All People and Pricelis Dominguez, who is going to share with us, how to love other people, while also speaking the truth? Jeremy, specializes in world religions and cults and he will be talking about evangelism in that context. I am so excited for this event. I hope you can join us. You can grab the remaining early bird tickets on my website, if you click the “conference tab.”

The Word of God, prayer and the Holy Spirit, and then repentance, walking in obedience. This is how we hear God’s voice. This is a shorter episode, so I want to end with John 10:27, which I absolutely love. It says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” I was talking to my friend Taylor recently about this verse. We were talking about intrusive anxious thoughts which I have struggled with since I had Ivan. I had severe postpartum anxiety after I had Ivan and these intrusive thoughts would pop into my head at night, often related to infant death. I really struggled with that and the year after he was born, and I’m doing much better now for a variety of reasons. But one of the things that she mentioned that Taylor and I were talking about this, she mentioned is that when intrusive thoughts will come, we can return to the truth of this verse. “My sheep know my voice.” If the voice that’s in your head is darkness, if the voice that’s in your head is deathly, if is pushing you away from God, if it’s pushing you towards sin, if it’s pushing you towards shame, if it’s pushing you towards slander, or judgment, or hatred or bitterness, it’s not Jesus’s voice. His sheep know His voice, and they listen for His voice. 

What Taylor was saying, which I thought was so wise, as she said, “I know his voice, and so now I know what’s not His voice, and I can just let those thoughts pass through without even recognizing, indulging them, or endorsing them.” I thought that is such wisdom because when you know God’s voice, you don’t have to fight with or argue with this other voice. You go back to His voice, you go back to His truth. What does scripture say about God? And this is why it’s so important to have a biblical theology of God’s character. It’s so important to know who God is, because we can’t have a Christian faith that’s just made up of hearsay, what other people have said about God, we’ve got to know what He says, for Himself, because once you get into a position where you’re struggling with anxiety or struggling with these thoughts, you’re going to second guess what you know about God, because you only heard it from someone else. 

Go to the source, God has inspired His word and said consistently who He is, what is that source, what does scripture say about who He is. Rememorize it, put it in your heart, and then pray it to God. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and then let the Holy Spirit do that. Let Him speak to you, let Him talk to you and listen for Him. I kept this short, because I don’t want to overcomplicate hearing God’s voice. I truly believe it is much more simple than we realize. But again, it’s not easy, it’s not something that will just come naturally to most people. We will have to be quiet enough to hear Him, we’ll have to settle down, maybe even set aside a whole half hour, where you pray a request and then you sit and you listen. And you wait and see what God says. 

So, say you do this, because I know I’ll have questions about this. How do you actually hear His voice then? Say, you pray and you read the Word, and then you sit and you listen, what then? I’ll give you an example. The other morning, I was praying, and praying over different requests and then at the end of praying through those, there were a lot of things on my heart, they were really heavy, I felt very overwhelmed and I was spending time in Psalms, which is one of my favorite places to go when I feel that way. Praying some of the Psalms and praying them back to the Lord. Then I stopped and I started to just listen. I had a thought pop in my head that said, “You should get off social media for the rest of the week.” My first response to that was, “Well, I can’t do that because I have several things that have to be marketed for Every Woman a Theologian, I have some responsibilities that I need to hop on there to do, so I can’t do that. That’s not God.” But then I stopped, and I thought, “Who am I to say that this isn’t God? Let’s see if it lines up with scripture. Let’s see if it lines up with what I’m reading in the Psalms right now.”

As I read through the Psalms, I was reading Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd,” one of my favorite psalms that I prayed so often when I was struggling with postpartum anxiety. I read in this Psalm, “He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” I had just been praying about some anxiousness and overwhelm that I was feeling. Then the psalm that I’m praying says that, “God leads me beside still waters, besides peaceful waters.” So then when I asked God to speak to me and tell me what to do. And He says, “Get off social media.” I respond with, “No, I can’t do that, because I’ve got too much to do.” And yet what was spoken to my spirit in that moment, lined up with what the Psalm says, “He leads me beside still waters.” So, my choice in that moment, once I recognize, “Okay, the principle that was spoken to my spirit really lines up with what I’ve seen in the word about His character and about how He leads. Once I’ve seen that I have a choice to obey, or should not obey.” And that’s where the rubber meets the road. Will I obey His Spirit, or will I quench His spirit’s voice and make it harder to hear Him by my disobedience? That’s the choice that we often have. And sometimes when He speaks to us, it’s obvious. Sometimes He speaks to us through other Christians who come to us and say something to us and it’s just in our face. Sometimes it’s a correction and that is what tells us, “Oh, I need to obey in this area.” Sometimes it’s more subtle, like what I just described. 

And sometimes you might hear something as you’re praying and listening, and you ask the Lord, “Is this you? Is this what you want me to do?” And you don’t feel like you have an answer right away. You don’t have peace to move forward. So, you pray about it for several days, maybe you pray about it with someone else, maybe you fast over it. Fasting is such an important part of prayer, because it gives a sense of urgency to our prayers, and it’s not forcing God’s hand. It’s just showing that we are urgently seeking God’s face that we want to hear Him better. So, it may take time sometimes to get clarity on what is God’s voice and where He’s leading us, but He will give you clarity. Sometimes His silence is His no. It’s Him saying, “No. I want you to trust me on this. I’m not going to battle with you about this. I just want you to obey because I know what’s best for you.” 

I hope that some of this is helpful to you, as you are disciplining yourself to hear God’s voice. Just remember, it is a discipline, that means it’s a practice that takes consistency and time. And also remember that people throughout history have struggled with discipline because it’s hard, but that doesn’t mean we don’t pursue it. Our culture wants us to only do what feels good in the moment. Only do what feels good all the time, but our God says, “I want to be near you.” And for that to happen, we have to reject our culture’s way and we have to choose instead, the narrow road that leads to life.

Thank you for joining us for today’s episode of Verity. You can connect with fellow listeners by following me on Instagram @phyliciamasonheimer or on our Facebook page by the same name. Also visit for links to each episode and the show notes.


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