Hearing the “Still Small Voice” In Your Noisy World

In April, we talked about finding our own sacred spaces in ordinary places. This month, I’d like to take some time to think about how we can hear God’s “still small voice” not only in our sacred spaces but also in our busy (and noisy) world. I’m sure you’ve heard people say, “God told me . . . ” and perhaps you’ve wondered if they really heard the voice of God speaking to them. There are some for whom speaking with God is part of their prayer experience, but for many, the idea of hearing God’s voice is both thrilling and frightening.Listen for God's still small voice.

Would you expect to hear a big, booming voice coming from the clouds? Probably not, though it’s not unprecedented in the Bible. We know that God speaks at Jesus’ baptism, and all the crowds hear God’s voice. However, the Bible also talks about God’s “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). Hearing God’s “still small voice” seems a much more likely scenario for you and me—like a conversation between a loving parent and a loved child.

But our world is so noisy. How could we possibly hear anything below a shout? I don’t mean noise in terms of decibel levels only; I mean noisy in terms of the busyness that surrounds our days. I know that many of us juggle many different roles, and in trying to do and be all things to all people, there is very little space left for a genuine one-on-one conversation.

In our conversations with others, we expect interaction and give-and-take. But when we interact with God, usually in prayer, our conversations may feel one-sided, and if we’re perfectly honest, we probably don’t expect to hear a response. Listening is not built into our prayer equation—we pray; we hope God hears us; we move on.

Hearing God’s “still small voice” seems a much more likely scenario for you and me—like a conversation between a loving parent and a loved child.

What would happen if you gave equal time to listening to God as you do to talking to God? What would happen if you practiced active listening for God’s response? What kind of response would you expect? Would it be a small voice speaking in your head? Or a feeling, a strong feeling—what people call the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—that fills you and prompts you to act on your prayer? Perhaps you’d suddenly think of a Bible verse and, upon reading it, realize that it speaks to your situation. All of these are valid ways to hear God speaking to you. Over the next month, I’ll suggest some ways in which you can still the busyness and noise and hear God’s “still small voice.”

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