Listening to God in prayer is incredibly easy if you approach his throne with confidence, thanksgiving, patience, and a hungry heart.
Believers always have access to hearing God’s voice, but he won’t always tell us exactly what we want to hear. As I’ve grown in confidence, I realized that God was alway talking. I was just not able to grasp the depth of his utterances because of my own spiritual immaturity.
Why is Listening To God In Prayer Hard?
Similar to myself, many people find listening to God hard because:
- The Bible isn’t revered as the written word of God.
- We grow impatient and expect God to speak immediately.
- They can’t see the difference between God’s voice, satan’s voice, and their own voice.
- We approach God with expectations and try to control how he speaks.
- Speaking with God becomes a job where we must get a reward. Therefore, we forget it should be a heartfelt conversation.
- Our heart is filled with pain, fear, anxiety, etc. This causes us to approach God with an unhealthy heart. For example, feeling hopeless might make it hard for a Christian to receive God’s word to keep going in a difficult relationship or project.
Sometimes, you may approach God with an expectation of how he’ll address your issue. However, He may have a plan to slowly reveal the answer to you. Therefore, during your prayer time he may want to give you peace, clarity, comfort, and supernatural strength to stand firm in faith.
Listening and learning to patiently wait on God is a spiritual muscle. Don’t feel shame and unworthiness if you don’t recognize God’s voice. But take heart, because the truth is, the “eye of the lord on righteousness, his ears open to their prayer”. This is an assurance that God hears you even if you don’t feel like it and will speak to you in his divine timing. (1 Peter 3:12)
How to Listen to God in Prayer
- Find a quiet area and be still: Remove all the distractions around you.
- Prepare Your Heart: In the Old Testament, the priests had to cleanse themselves before they entered the Temple. Similarly, you should repent and ask God to purify you as you enter into prayer. This will help you hear God rightly and not through your own filter, pain, and desires.
- Wait In Silence: Get in a comfortable position and wait in silence for 10-15 minutes. Then write down what you feel, think, or saw. Also take note of scriptures, songs, people and memories that are present. Be patient, God may speak more later whether it’s in a dream or another situation.
- Two-Way Journaling: Write down your emotions and what you feel God is saying in response.
- Study the Character of God: Reading the Bible and meditating on the word is a great way to hear the written voice of God. In addition, reading the Bible will help you understand what God would and wouldn’t say. Essentially, this will help you discern if it’s God’s voice or another voice.
- Don’t Forget to Pray: Ask God to reveal what was from him, yourself, or another source. Sometimes, we are carrying around perspectives that are not in alignment with God. Therefore, our understanding of what God said could be polluted.
Two-Way Journaling With God
Also, two-way journaling is an effective way to hear God in prayer. Write your questions and thoughts and then write what you feel God saying in reply. Additionally, write down memories, songs, people, and scriptures and write what you think God meant by sharing them.
Remember, that God’s voice NEVER contradicts the Bible. His voice doesn’t encourage sin nor confusion, for God is the author of peace.
Related Article: 22 Signs God Is Speaking To You + Scriptures
How do you listen attentively to God in prayer?
1. Enter his Gates with Thanksgiving
As you approach God, remove all of your plans and desires. Actively choose to look at God and delight in him. Thank him for everything — health, past miracles, the Bible, possessions, family, friends, finances, spiritual forefathers, the blood of Jesus, etc. As you become more aware of God’s goodness it will move your mindset into a higher and heavenly standard of thinking. It’ll help melt away your fears, worries, and fleshly thoughts. Then your soul will have a clearer space to hear God.
"Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations." (Psalm 100:1-5)
2. Be still and know that He is God
Once you’ve submitted all your emotions to God it’s time to be still. You can sit with worship music or in silence and just wait on God. Remember, be confident that God wants to speak with you, but be aware that he speaks according to his own time frame. You can’t control God with lengthy fasts and prayers. Ensure that you are spending time with God for the sake of spending time with God.
“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.“ (Psalm 46:10)
3. Seek God with all your heart
Those that approach God must do so with a genuine and pure heart to be intimate with him. The more you come to God with a hunger and thirst for intimacy is the more that he will be able to meet your desire. You’ll hear him speak about deep mysteries and you’ll feel a peace that surpasses all understanding, despite all the potential horrible things happening around you.
To be truly still enough within and have a pure heart before God you must allow the word of God to restore you and you should also ask God to search your heart. The heart is filled with emotions that we have o clue are there. The Bible says that “What wickedness?” Therefore, in prayer asking God to wash you of daily pain, struggles can help you to boldly approach God without stain or tear.
"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desire of your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)
a. Store Up The Word in Your Heart
Reading the word and storing it in our spirit Is essential to hearing God. When we have a treasure chest of scriptures in our mind, God will speak to us about it. Remember, the word is alive and active. Therefore, whatever you read will become alive in your life and you will be able to actively apply it to your situation with the wisdom of God! (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Many Christians often sit before God for hours waiting for him to speak and hear nothing, because they’re neglecting the documented voice of God given to them already — the Bible. The Bible is breathed by God and was spoken into existence through his voice. His word penetrates our hearts and ministers to us in a deep way.
"Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." (Joshua 1:8) (Psalm 119:11)
b. Search My Heart O’ Lord
Next, it’s important to ask God to search your heart for hidden iniquities. When God highlights pride, sin, shame, fear, worry, anxiety, distrust, and other thoughts it will help you to leave your burden at the cross. In addition, unhealthy emotions can cause us to mishear and ignore the still small voice of God. (Psalm 66:18) (John 9:31)
"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24)
In my life, I would often miss what God was telling me directly because I wanted to hear something else. My heart was filled with immaturity, entitlement, and self-focus. As God stripped my heart of such iniquities, I was able to hear his voice telling me things that made me more mature and heavenly minded.
For instance, I once quit my job and had to move. I applied to many jobs and found none. I knew that I needed to rest and God wasn’t allowing any doors to open. However, I wanted what I wanted. After several dreams, no interview, and prophetic word from a friend that it was a season of rest… I finally realized that my fears had been controlling me. As I rested, I got a job 10 months later teaching middle school students. I realized God needed to internally prepare me to handle children and help me rest from the trauma of the past season.
God still speaks. God’s NOT dead and He is VERY active. He is an active God that is intentional about what he is saying and doing. Nothing is a coincidence. So, be confident and know that He is God and that he wants to communicate with you CLEARLY.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people; your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17)
Let me testify to an ACTIVE God:
- God has spoken to me audibly
- I frequently hear God in dreams
- He gives me direction to pray against evil
- His still small voice helps me avoid bad situation
5. He works in his own time
God is working as fast as he can and he isn’t withholding any good thing from you while you wait! But there are more details to accomplish His plan, and you won’t be able to fully understand till all the puzzle pieces come together and make a beautiful picture.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 For more information on the waiting process, read the 6 ways waiting prepares you for greatness and/or holiness!
“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:4 KJV
How to Hear God’s Voice When Making a Decision
You can hear God’s voice when making a decision if you slow down and calm your mind. The key is to drop all of your wants, desires, and assumptions of what is best. Then you can have a clear head space for God to speak about the decision with you.
- Be open. If you’re holding on to what you want tightly, then you will block yourself from hearing God.
- Go with peace. When making an important decision remember that God is the author of peace not confusion. Even if it’s a tough decision, it should still bring life.
- Evaluate the fruit. Don’t choose the path that brings quick results and suffocates the fruits of the spirit within you. Remember, a Godly decision doesn’t require sin and dishonor.
- Seek wise counsel. Ask others that have journeyed through the same thing for their opinions. Also, ask them about what they did and how it worked out for them.
- Be patient. God will speak. If the decision requires you to rush and go before a confirming word from God, then it could be out of alignment.
Related: Prayer to Hear God’s Guidance