Believers in Jesus Christ want to know how they can hear God’s voice. Does God speak? Is it like a radio host broadcasting his voice into the airwaves? Perhaps the question is, are we tuned into the right frequency?
Bible Gateway interviewed Robert Morris (@PsRobertMorris) about his book, Frequency: Tune In. Hear God. (Thomas Nelson, 2016).
What idea are you trying to convey with the title of your book?
Robert Morris: As believers in Jesus Christ, we naturally want to know how we can hear God’s voice. Does God speak? Is he speaking to me? The good news is yes; he is speaking. And like a radio host broadcasting his voice into the airwaves, God speaks all the time. The question is, “Are you tuned in to the right frequency?”
In my new book, Frequency, I share about how God communicates with us in multiple ways—through the Bible, circumstances, and even a whisper. He demonstrates how we can mature from hearing his voice as sheep to hearing it as his friend to conveying his voice to others. When we begin to understand the general and specific ways God speaks to us, we cultivate a life of deeper connection with our creator.
What do you mean when you write that hearing the voice of God is about “who you are”?
Robert Morris: Hearing God’s voice is a question of identity. Who are you at your core? The answer is this: you are a sheep. Hearing God’s voice is not about something we do. Rather, hearing God is about someone we are. Hearing God is not primarily a behavior. It’s a reflection of our identity. We hear God because of who we are, and because of whose we are.
In John 10, Jesus explains this idea in depth. Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd, and he contrasts the work he does with the work of Satan, a thief and a robber. Satan comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus the Good Shepherd comes that people might have life, and have it abundantly (vv. 8, 10-11).
The whole idea of us being sheep is that our identities are rooted in a shepherd-to-sheep model. Being a sheep is what a human being was designed to be. Sheep, by nature of being sheep, need a guide. It’s not that we hear God because of some action we take. Rather, we hear God because we were designed to hear God.
What does the Bible say about God’s voice?
Robert Morris: God has always been a speaking God, and God still speaks to us today. Fifteen times in the New Testament alone, Jesus says, “He who has ears, let him hear.” In John 8:47, Jesus says, “He who is of God hears God’s word.” And in John 10:27, Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
How do you respond to people when they say they fervently pray but God is silent?
Robert Morris: That’s why I wrote Frequency. I want to help provide a fuller answer to this question, because the explanation as to how to hear God’s voice can’t be given in a quick formula. Rather, it arises intrinsically as part of a genuine and ongoing relationship with God. If you want to get to hear God’s voice, then you must get to know God as a person—and this takes time and intention; much the same as it takes to know any friend.
How is God’s voice distinguishable from our own subconscious thinking?
Robert Morris: Both the old and new testaments clearly describe God as a speaking God. The real task—and wonderful opportunity—is for us to learn to hear His voice.
If you want to get to hear God’s voice, then you must get to know God as a person—and this takes time and intention, much the same as it takes to know any friend. John 10:4 says, “When he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” Jesus calls us to a close relationship with him where we instantly recognize his voice. The God of the universe invites us to enjoy a familiar relationship with him, a relationship where we pray to him, and he listens to us, and where he speaks and we listen to him. A true dialogue.
When God speaks to you today, chances are that he won’t speak to you in a big booming voice. Instead, God will speak to you by the moving of the Holy Spirit in your life (John 16:12-13). He’ll speak to you by his still small voice. And what you do after he speaks to you will require faith.
What do you mean by the general voice of God and the specific voice of God?
Robert Morris: When talking about God’s will, there’s a general will and a specific will of God. When we have a job change or we’re buying a new home or we have an important decision to make concerning our marriage or family or future, we want a specific word from the Lord. And we need one from him too. And he will give us one. But my concern is that we sometimes try to hear a specific word from God without first developing the habit of hearing a general word from God every day. That’s an important part of the process of learning to value God’s voice.
If we’re just checking with God every six months or so whenever a big decision comes up, then we will not only miss out on knowing God’s general will, we will also miss out on a close, everyday friendship with God. So we must learn to value his voice, his general voice, on a regular basis if we want to hear his specific voice from time to time. If we’re not in the habit of meeting with him and hearing from him on a regular basis, then it will be much more difficult to hear a specific word from God.
There are four practical steps to do this, and are listed in much greater detail in my book:
- Set an appointment with God.
- Be still and worship.
- Pray and read.
- Listen and write.
It’s important for us to set regular appointments with God in order to learn from his Word and to hear his voice. To develop a regular time with the Lord, set an appointment, be still and worship him, pray, and read the Bible. Write down your prayers. Listen for his response.
How should people read the Bible to best hear the voice of God for themselves?
Robert Morris: There are so many time in life when I need wisdom, and I wonder where to go or what to do. The imagery of brightness and guidance is found in Daniel 12:3: “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” That verse along with James 1:5 are two of my favorite verses: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” That answer is so straightforward: ask God, and wisdom will be given to you.
Your invitation is to read God’s Word consistently, diligently, prayerfully, and fervently. Read the Bible with your heart wide open in prayer and in communion with God. Read and pray at the same time: “Lord Jesus, what are you saying in your Word about yourself? How does this passage teach me to love you and to love others more? How does this passage apply to me?”
Go to the Bible. Begin by worshipping him and seeking his face. Listen for his voice. You can have confidence knowing that the Lord will speak.
What do you mean that people should be stewards of God’s voice?
Robert Morris: Stewardship means we manage well someone else’s property or resources. As believers, our lives are not our own. We belong to Christ (1 Corinthians 3:23). That means our time, treasure, talents, and even our futures are not our own. So it’s important that we live as good stewards of what belongs to God. First Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
Stewardship relates to hearing the voice of God too. Think of it this way. God blesses faithful stewards (Proverbs 28:20; Luke 12:42-46). If God gives us time, treasure, and talents, and we’re faithful with those, then he gives us more. If we’re not faithful, then God doesn’t give us more. The same is true of hearing God’s voice. When God speaks to us, if we’re faithful with the word he gives us, then why would he give us more? Mark 4:24 says, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measure to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.”
Did you catch the last bit of that verse? “To you who hear, more will be given.” That’s the result of good stewardship. We must be good stewards of what we hear from the Lord.
Here are three ways we can be careful stewards of God’s spoken words:
- We are careful stewards of God’s voice when we truly listen to Him.
- When we respond in humility.
- When we heed his words.
God is speaking all the time, but the only ones who hear are those who tune in to the right frequency through humility and obedience.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?
Robert Morris: Bible Gateway is such an important free resource. It allows people all over the word to have access to the Word of God at any time. It’s a great resource for training and teaching as well as personal study.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Robert Morris: I want every believer to have an intimate, ongoing, and passionate relationship with Jesus Christ so that we will all love and serve and follow His voice.
Bio: Robert Morris is the founding senior pastor of Gateway Church (@GatewayPeople), a multicampus church in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex with more than 36,000 active members. Morris is featured on the weekly television program The Blessed Life and serves as chairman of the board of The King’s University. He’s the bestselling author of 13 books, including The God I Never Knew: How Real Friendship with the Holy Spirit Can Change Your Life and Truly Free: Breaking the Snares That So Easily Entangle. He and his wife, Debbie, have been married 36 years and are blessed with one married daughter, two married sons, and six grandchildren.