Secrets to Hearing God: Are You Listening?

This story on listening is an appropriate intro into our new series on learning to hear God’s voice.

Barbara, five, had disobeyed me and was sent to her room. After a few minutes, I went in to talk with her about what she had done. Teary-eyed, she asked, “Why do we do wrong things, Mommy?” “Sometimes the Devil tells us to do something wrong, and we listen to him,” I said. “We need to listen to God instead.” “But God doesn’t talk loud enough!” she wailed 1.

How loud God speaks is not the determining factor in hearing Him. Knowing how to listen is so much more vital. Here are some tips to helping you hear your Father God in your everyday life.

1 Samuel 3:1–10 (KJV)
1 And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision. 2 And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; 3 And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep; 4 That the Lord called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I. 5 And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down. 6 And the Lord called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again. 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him. 8 And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the Lord had called the child. 9 Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

  • One of my pet sayings is are you hearing me or are you listening?
  • It is a sentiment echoed in the Throne Room of the Most High.

ILLUSTRATION: How Penguins Distinguish Family
Consider, for a moment, the lowly penguin. Each spring they look for a rocky place where they can nest. Such a place is called a rookery. Large number of penguins lay their eggs and raise their young there. The rookery is very crowded. Up to a million penguins can live in single rookery, but each penguin has her own nest. If thousands upon thousands of penguins live in one spot, how can a penguin tell which babies are hers? After all, they are all dressed alike. Each penguin has a different voice. The parents can pick out their own children from thousands of others just by the sound of their voices. They know their own children, and take care of them. In the same way, millions upon millions of people are scattered all over the world, but God knows those who belong to Him — those who have trusted Jesus as Savior.

  • The Lord can surely hear and pick out your voice.
  • My question to you, though, is can you hear Him?
  • Are you listening to Him?
  • Are you able to pick out is voice from all the other voices?

1 Corinthians 14:10 (KJV)
10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.

  • Here are some tips to help you to learn to hear God’s voice.

Have a Hearing Attitude

  • Speak Lord your servant hears was Samuel’s response
  • Samuel didn’t know the voice of the Lord yet he was working for the Lord – (1 Samuel 3:1)
  • It is possible to work for God and not know His voice.
  • It is possible to be a greeter/children’s worker/ministry of helps person in your church and not know His voice.
  • It’s possible to be a preacher, teacher, pastor, or minister and not know His voice.
  • In order to hear God, you must have a hearing attitude.
  • Get the communication in right order.
  • Samuel said to God, “Speak for your servant hears.” Not “Listen Lord for your servant speaks.”
  • To hear God you must have a listening posture.
  • There has to be time when you listen. That is pray and listen, pray and listen.
  • To help you hear God better say to the Lord. “Speak because I am listening.”

Know What You Are Listening For

  • How is God’s voice different from all the other voices?
  • His voice is a still small voice

1 Kings 19:9–13 (KJV)
9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? 10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. 11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

  • Other Translations of this passage state…
    • A still small voice – KJV & NKJV
    • A quiet whispering voice – God’s Word
    • A soft gentle voice – Darnby’s Translation
    • A quiet gentle sound – New Century
    • A sound of gentle stillness and a still small voice – Amplified
    • A gentle whisper – NIV
  • The Lord’s voice to you is not jack hammer loud but quiet, gentle, still, and soft.
  • You have to know what you are listening for.

ILLUSTRATION: The Man Who Heard the Cricket
A man was walking down a busy New York sidewalk with a companion. Buses and trucks were roaring by on the street, taxis were honking, the roar of a jack-hammer could be heard in the distance. Suddenly he stopped and said, “Do you hear the cricket?” His companion gaped at him in astonishment. The man, however, walked over to a potted shrub and parted the leaves. Sure enough — there among the branches was a little cricket. Continuing down the sidewalk, his companion asked him, “How could you possibly have heard the cricket in all this noise?” Because I listened for it,” said the man. “Here, let me demonstrate.” Having said that, he reached into his pocket for a handful of coins and let them all to the sidewalk. At the sound of the dropping/rolling coins every head within a block swiveled around. “See,” he said, “it depends on what you are listening for.”

Get Quiet Yourself

  • If His voice is a still quiet voice then guess what you have to do in order to hear it? You have to get quite yourself.
  • You are going to have to turn things off or slow things down. Like…
    • Your Head
    • Other people
    • The TV
    • Your own geared body

Archaeologists have discovered the steps to the southern portion of the Temple in Jerusalem (the steps lead to a porch where Jesus would have preached to the people.) The steps are varying heights and widths (during the feasts the crowds would swell to almost double the normal – 100,000 people coming to the temple.) Because the steps were different heights and different widths, it was impossible to run up the stairs. The Temple housed the presence of God in O.T. times and the design of the stairs leading to it would already begin to slow you down.

  • The temple itself was built in total silence.

1 Kings 6:7 (KJV)
7 And the temple, when it was being built, was built with stone finished at the quarry, so that no hammer or chisel or any iron tool was heard in the temple while it was being built.

Psalm 46:10 (KJV)
10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

  • We could easily change the title of this message from “Are You Listening” to “Are You Quiet”?

A good listener is not only popular, but after a while he knows a few things. – Wilson Mizner

Call to Action:

Do you remember the old nursery rhyme about the wise old owl?
“A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?” 2.

Healthy, wealthy, and wise is definite ground for those who are hearers (and doers) of God’s voice.

Question: What tips have you learned about hearing God’s voice? Please leave a comment in the comments section below.



  1.  Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof, 1001 Illustrations That Connect (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2008), 453
  2.  Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), p. 403

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Steve White

    Great lesson not only for adults but children. My children need to and will hear this lesson around the kitchen table while we eat snacks and discuss it.