Hearing God

Hearing God

When I was visiting a seminary last April I was presented with an excellent opportunity. I would be able to further my education, live in a much warmer climate, and make enough money to pay for it all. I was ready to sign up when I felt God urging me to talk to Him about it. I consulted the Lord. I believe he told me that it would be far better for me to live in my hometown and do my internship. When I shared this with some people at the seminary they looked at me as if I’d just fallen off a turnip truck. Among some circles people are very skeptical when they hear some say “God told me”. Instead of listening for the Lord’s voice they would ask God to guide them and think it through themselves and sometimes with others.

Over the last few years I’ve come to understand why there is so much skepticism.

Inaccurate Prophecy

People misrepresent the Lord. There are many who are well meaning and make sincere mistakes. Cultural and intellectual bias bleeds through in to the prophetic message. After Sept 11 there were a number of different prophetic interpretations of the event. With some notable exceptions it seemed as though God’s agenda shifted according to the geography of the prophet. With so much feeling associated with God’s guidance how can you tell if you are reading the Lord or your own bias?

Control, Manipulation and Self Service

There are others who stamp a divine imperative on their own agenda. In some groups there is so much glamour associated with prophecy that Christians are tempted to make themselves look more spiritual. They take a gift from the Lord and try to use it for their own gain. This is particularly disturbing. Especially when “super-spiritual” leaders start casting out demons that aren’t there.


I know of a family who decided not to buy a vehicle because the Lord was guiding them to a different vehicle. However things didn’t work out with the vehicle they felt the Lord was leading them to so they ended up buying the first one. It’s incidents like these that really make people question the idea of hearing God. People are attaching the Lord’s name to their own whims. This devalues prophetic ministry and God’s name.

Forcing God to speak through circumstances

It is common to hear people ask God to lead them by making His chosen option the only accessible one. In other words, “God if you want me to go to this school, make it so that I’m accepted”. If you take a little bit of time to think about this you will quickly conclude it’s a very arrogant and ineffective way to discern the Lords will. For example imagine a 10 year old boy named John. John wants to know what chores his father would have him do on a Saturday afternoon. John writes his father a note. In the note John explains how if his father wants him to mow the lawn he should get the lawnmower ready. If not he will weed the garden. John gets up to see that the lawnmower is not ready so he joyfully weeds the garden believing that it was his fathers will. However John’s father didn’t want him to weed the garden or mow the lawn. John’s father left a note saying that John should come over to the neighbours because they are having a barbeque. Because John had such a narrow focus in discerning his fathers will he missed out on a great afternoon.

In our relationship with God we need to give God the room to respond how He wants to. There are times where God does have an opinion but his direction is something we had never considered. He may want to give us some detail on what to do and how to do it. He may not have an opinion either way and we can decide what we want to do. God can also choose not to answer. He can do that because He is God. God does what He wants.

Make a Decision

Getting direction from the Lord is a good thing. However I think some people have grown so dependant on prophetic words from other people that they don’t think for themselves. In the bible the role of Godly wisdom is very prominent in the life of the believer. I depend more on wisdom than revelation. They should always line up, but sometimes God sees things from a much broader perspective which sometimes makes relying on revelation a step of faith.

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