How can people hear God speak

God: "Hello human - I would like to talk to you."

By Markus Züger

Many people talk about being able to talk to God. But many doubt that he's even listening. Very many people pray to God, prayer seems to be implanted in people. But many are unsure of what it will bring. And doubt even more whether one can even hear God's voice. The most important question is: Do we want to talk to God at all, do we really want a relationship with him?

Prayer is nothing more than talking to God, communicating with him. But does this God even exist? Man seems to have found an answer to this question. Through all generations, peoples and times he seems to know that this God exists; and those who deny it confirm it as if indirectly. Because if God didn't exist, they wouldn't have to fight him so vehemently.

But is God really listening to me? The counter-question to this: Do you listen to someone you love? If there is God, then he made creation, including us. And what someone creates and invents, he loves. We humans even listen when someone upsets us.

But there is more in this world than just me. Can God listen to so many people and prayers at the same time? When we speak of the biblical God, we are dealing with someone who knows everything, is limitlessly powerful. God is a person who knows no limitation like us humans. So it is no problem for God to hear a million prayers in the same second. For him, a second is not a unit of time as we perceive it.

The final question is whether God cares enough about our prayers to hear and respond. It is infinitely important to a father and a mother what their child says. What we say to God as His children is just as important to God. Even if certain things seem insignificant to us, nothing is insignificant to him because we are so important to him. As our unearthly father and mother, God is simply interested in everything because he loves us above all else.

Are we listening to God?
Ultimately, that is the crucial question. It is less a matter of whether God listens to us - he does - but of whether we listen to him. How should parents influence their child when they always listen to the child, but when the child - for whatever reason - does not listen to them? We all appreciate being listened to. But listen for yourself? We are much less happy to do that. This fact is even more pronounced in the relationship with God. A great many people pray to God. When you have finished praying, it just goes on afterwards. Many prayers are not mutual communication at all, but one-way messages. No relationship can be created in this way. How is God supposed to talk to me and point out important or valuable things to me when I'm not listening? How should he give me presents if I can't hear properly and don't care for the relationship properly?

We often do not expect God to speak to us even though “and God spoke” seems to be very typical of God. We also prefer to determine our own life and therefore often don't listen. We have to learn to hear, to listen and to listen as well as to speak.

Are we able to relate?
"Of course!" it sounds in us. However, listening is an essential part of the ability to have relationships. Want to hear too! A person is only capable of relational who lets others - in this case God - speak to him in life and who is ready to shape life together with others - with God. That also makes everyday life much more interesting. But it is more demanding. How relational we are depends not least on our will. From this follows our ability to really listen, to understand and then to include in our lives what others and God tell us. Because it is usually characterized by love when God or someone else tells us something. But do we also bring up this love and this ability to relate and really listen?

It is worth it!
How many times in my life have I seen that it is worth listening to others. Above all to God! However, this was not an easy learning path. As a 25-year-old I realized that I am not good at listening to either people or God. And I also realized that this is detrimental to my life. So I decided to learn to listen to people and to God. It took some time until the first really good results were visible. In relationships with people, I noticed that the other person valued that very much and that something was coming back. And in the relationship with God I noticed that I could suddenly develop an understanding for situations and people that I did not have before. I knew the nature of God better. I kept hearing better and better what I could do in certain situations. And when I did, it was always worth it.

Every beginning is difficult
I still remember well when, at the age of 25, in a course entitled "Silence" last afternoon, I tried to become still and listen to God. It was just a struggle. I managed not to think for five minutes - but I didn't hear anything. I felt like a kid learning to walk. But because I knew that every child had to learn to walk, I was convinced that I could learn to listen to God too. So I started to spend an hour with God every now and then in the evening. I tried to listen to him seriously. After the first good experiences I increased this to one evening, then now and then to half a day. As a 30-year-old I already managed one day; and from 45 I discovered how awesome it can be to be alone with God for a few days. Today I am 55 years old and I take half a day of silence every two weeks and a whole week once a year. These times are always high points
in my life. These times of silence and togetherness and listening to God are central moments that give me strength and help me to shape my life!

God shows himself to us
There are some very interesting hints in the Bible as to how God himself sees this:

• In John 5:19, Jesus, the Son of God, says: "As the son of my father, I cannot do anything of myself, I can only do what I see my father doing." Jesus himself had enormous strength. He healed people, gave endless encouragement, argued with government officials and added one miracle to another. And yet he needed to hear and see what his father was telling him. Again and again he withdrew to "quiet hours". If he needed that, then as a normal person I need it all the more.

• Later in the Gospel of John 10:27 it says: "My sheep [this is how he describes people in a parable] hear my voice." It couldn't be more clearly written!

• In Ephesians 5:15 f. It is summarized: "Be wise, use your time and understand what God says about you and your life."

• And in the Gospel of Matthew 7: 7 God tells us: «Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For whoever asks receives; and whoever searches there will find; and whoever knocks there will be opened. " It is interesting to see here that, from God's point of view, at least three steps are necessary for us to be able to receive: ask - seek - knock. So it is apparently not enough to just slide a coin into a machine and the result is there. God does not seem to want to adapt to our consumer society. It is probably better if we conform to God's principles - and that seems to take certain steps.

Hear God's voice
So we can learn to hear God's voice - and we have to. Because how should a person not be able to learn something so important? God is not looking for "receiver of orders" in us, but rather a counterpart! God himself is also very interested in us learning to listen to him. In this context I like the stories of “Don Camillo and Peppone”: Pastor Don Camillo lives speaking and listening to God quite naturally - in everyday life. Again and again he turns to Jesus and discusses things with him; says where he disagrees with something and then listens to Jesus again. He quite simply lives the relationship with Jesus - just as one should live relationships: with speaking and listening, sometimes with a contradiction and a discussion. With appreciation, love and with the fact that Don Camillo also takes seriously what Jesus tells him.

That's how I imagine it to be with God. Hearing God's voice also becomes more and more natural for me, the more I do and practice it. And it is not limited to times of silence or times in church, but it flows naturally into everyday life. We don't only talk to the people around us at Christmas and Easter or at certain places.

What helps me to hear God
It certainly helps if I learn to listen to people and God. At first it is a decision of the will. And then it is a matter of character to take others seriously and to appreciate what they have to say. It is also beneficial to switch off first and to be calm and ready. Relaxing is just as important as being completely open to talking from the outside world or from God. That means letting go of your own opinions and thoughts again and again - at least in between - and not taking yourself too seriously. A positive and open expectation helps. God doesn't always talk the way we'd like. Therefore it is more of a hindrance if we want to hear God's speech in a certain or as clear a way as possible. God speaks how he wants - not how we want to. Here, too, openness and flexibility are the order of the day. Ultimately, however, it is always about that we are ready to hear God - that we really want to. Because there God hardly differs from us humans. We humans also stop talking when we feel that the other person doesn't want to hear.

God's voice and others?
How can I distinguish God's voice from others and from my own voice? First things first: Practice makes perfect! It is a learning. The more I listen to God and then do what I think I hear from him, the more I will learn to distinguish whether it was really his voice. The following characterization of his voice is also helpful:

• God's voice is building and encouraging.
• It is comforting, not reproachful or accusatory.
• It is indicative and rarely warning or instructive.
• It is true and does not obscure.
• It creates freedom and does not put us under pressure or coercion.
• It creates life and gives strength.
• It is mostly fine and not loud.
• It leads to hope and clarity.

To be likeness, to be important
God tells us that we are his image. That is an enormous appreciation! We are valuable in God's eyes, important to him, and he takes us seriously. Of course, God also appreciates it when we take him seriously and really want to be his likeness and his counterpart. Prayer, conversation and listening to God are central. I have often observed that people who trust themselves and take themselves seriously find the strength and will to take God seriously and to hear him.

We can really trust God that he likes to talk to us. Only when we expect this will we learn to hear his voice in everyday life. This creates a wonderful friendship that always lasts. We are never really alone anymore - or lonely. God is always with us, day, night, while working, enjoying, on vacation, yes everywhere.

Courage is good
We can courageously practice listening to God's voice. No master has fallen from heaven yet: it takes a lot of practice, time and patience. I've been practicing it for 30 years now and I'm still a learner. But I have hardly made a decision that was more essential for my life. As a 25 year old I decided to listen to God: It was one of my best decisions!

(© online editorial team ERF Medien)