I must say that I’ve never heard the audible voice of God. Most people use phrases like “prompting”, “whisper”, or “impression” when they hear from God. Pastor Wayne Cordeiro explains it like this, “There is a frequency that your life was designed to be tuned to, and that frequency is the unique voice of God. Once you learn to hear it – and you actually can get better at picking it out – you will find that your craving for it intensifies as your soul strains to hear more from him . . . in the modern-day cacophony of cell phones, email and instant messaging, what will distinguish God’s people from others will be hearing and heeding whispers from above.”

All around the world, people hear from God and respond by radically changing their lives. They pray risky prayers like found in Isaiah 6:8, “Here am I. Send me!” and leave their stable jobs and stable lives to go to poor and sometimes dangerous countries and do amazing eternally impactful things with their lives. Other times the whispers are not as dramatic. Sometimes it is a prompting to forgive a friend, to stop a recurrent sin, or to reach out to someone at work. Once you hear from God, having “the guts to respond” is the most challenging part. It usually means stepping outside our comfort zone with our relationships or lifestyle. Most importantly, our lives will be transformed, having an eternal impact with those we lead and love.

There are things that will improve our ability to hear God’s whispers. We must decrease the noise and distraction in our lives. It may seem hard, but we must turn off our cell phones and find a place where we can be still and quiet for prolonged periods of time. These times of prayer, reflection, and listening can significantly increase our opportunity to hear from God. And when you do confirm that you’ve heard from Him, act on this whisper without delay. The more you ignore God, the more you’ll become numb to his promptings; the more you take action when He reaches out, the more tuned in you will become. As Bill Hybels says, “There is no more critical goal in life than to keep a pliable heart before God.”

Next month we will focus on why we may not be hearing from God and how to distinguish His voice from our own thoughts so we can confidently obey His promptings.

This article was adapted from Bill Hybels’ The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God. Having the Guts to Respond.