The secret to hearing God really isn't a secret, it's just something we find very hard to do: be quiet. You are welcome to stop reading any further since I have completely summed up everything you need to know about hearing God. But if you would like to read on, I suppose I could expound on this thought just a bit.
Why might anyone want to hear God? That's probably a good place to start when wrestling with this idea of hearing an invisible being that isn't bound by space or time. Is there any significance to seeking out what God might want to say? That is, of course, if He even wants to say anything to us at all. I believe it is a good desire to want to hear from God. After all, if He made us, we might do well to listen to His words.
Hearing God isn't just about getting "instructions" for how to live a good life. It is about communing with our Maker. Good instructions are just a side benefit. To listen to the voice of our Maker is to know Him, to live a life that is close to Him, to share every moment. It is very much a love affair, not merely like a student with a teacher. Love is the driving force of life. So a love affair with God most certainly leads to a godly life.
For me, the primary reason I want to hear from God is because I am profoundly cognizant of how poorly I manage my life. I don't know what I'm doing! And what's more is I know that I'm not able to figure it out alone. I need a helper, One who knows the way and can lead me in it. I need God! (and so do you...)
Anyone in recovery has come to a place of admitting their powerlessness and need for help. This is crucial to recovery. But too often addicts get stuck in a system that directs them to God (or Higher Power) as only another tool to help them keep from acting out. But God isn't a tool; He isn't an addendum to life. He IS life! Therefore, only God knows the way of life that leads to joy. That's why I want to hear His voice; to know the way of life that leads to joy.
But hearing God is hard. He isn't on the radio or TV. He doesn't sit across from me at Starbucks or give me cool signs like writing sentences in my cereal or making clouds form words. In fact, I've never actually heard His voice; at least not audible sounds with my ears. Also, there is already a lot of other noise in my life. Traffic, music, other people, television, Internet, even animals and stormy weather. Noise is everywhere. But so is God.
God is not unable to speak thunderously. But He rarely chooses this route, especially when He is wanting to build intimacy with us. He seems to prefer to whisper these thoughts, quietly sharing what we need to know; about Him, about us, about life. This is why it is critical that we learn to be quiet if we are ever to hear what God has to say.
Being quiet is simple, but it takes work (i.e. simple doesn't mean easy). It is hard to find quiet places in this world. But you can start by turning off the TV at home or the radio in your car. Even after doing that you might have to cover your ears to remove the noise of traffic or airplanes or the air conditioning unit outside your window or that annoying woodpecker on your gutter drain.
Ah, now it's quiet, right? Well, not exactly.
Even though you have squelched the external noise, you might hear a growing crescendo of internal noise. The thoughts in your own head start to explode in loud blasts of to-do lists, unpaid bills, relationship stresses, fears, doubts, unresolved traumas. Before you know it, you find yourself preferring the noise of the TV and Internet to drown out the voices buried deep in your soul. But if you do this, you will miss the voice of God.
Hold steady in the silence. Push back the screaming thoughts in your head. Then wait. Be patient. Just because you get quiet doesn't automatically mean that God will start whispering to you immediately. Sometimes He wants you to get familiar with silence first. Then He starts to whisper. And when He does, pay attention! This is the Maker of heaven and earth talking to you. Nothing in life could be more important than whatever He wants to say.
The impact of hearing God is immeasurable. The voice of God comforts, heals, convicts, instructs, soothes, rebukes, even laughs (with us, not at us). Intimacy with God can only affect your life for good, even if circumstances become increasingly difficult. That's okay. This is part of becoming more like God. The more we become like Him, the less we are like the world. But godliness brings peace and joy, whereas worldliness only brings discord and misery.
For those in recovery, hearing God is like the sound of a prison cell opening and a rushing wind carrying the shattered pieces of a broken soul into the very arms of the Creator. There is hope in God's voice. He loves the broken and outcast, those tangled up in a web of addiction. He wants to set prisoners free and whisper His life-giving words of grace and truth into each life. He stands ready to do this. Will you have the courage to tear down the wall of noise between you?
Be quiet. It is the secret to hearing God -- and enjoying abundant life.