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In last week’s article, we addressed the fantasy that Christians can, by their actions, gain access to God’s power. This week, I’d like to address the thinking that claims Christians must be quiet and still to hear God’s voice.

The biblical examples that put the boot to this error are manifold. Let’s look at the very first example in Scripture. Adam heard God’s voice in the garden readily. He commanded him not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17). “Well,” the reader may say, “of course he heard His voice. He was sinless.” However, after they had sinned, the Lord spoke to both Adam and Eve—while they were hiding (Genesis 3:8-19).

How about Noah? No biblical evidence exists that Noah was praying when he heard the Lord say, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. (Genesis 6:13)1

Abraham? This is the account of the Lord’s first words to him when he was living in Haran: “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing’” (Genesis 12:1–2). Abraham wasn’t praying. In fact, as far as we know, he and his family probably worshiped idols: “Haran was an Aramaean city and was famous for its worship of the lunar Sin-and-Nikkal cult. This system was an offspring of the cult found in Sumerian Ur. Sin and his wife Nikkal were not only revered here, but throughout Canaan and even in Egypt.” 2

Moses? He had turned aside the see a bush that was burning but not consumed. “When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am’” (Exodus 3:4). No praying there. He was out shepherding the sheep (Exodus 3:1).

None of these men were quietly waiting so they could hear Him.

Joshua? “After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, ‘Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel’” (Joshua 1:1–2).

Should I go on? How about the prophets? The very first verse of Isaiah begins this way: “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah” (Isaiah 1:1).

I trust that this is enough Old Testament evidence to put to flight the thought that a person must be quiet and still to hear God’s voice.

However, perhaps things changed in the New Testament. This is an interesting example from the life of Peter: “The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth” (Acts 10:9–11).

I think it is noteworthy —and a bit humorous—that while he was praying, he realized he was hungry, so he asked some ladies, I assume, to rustle up some grub—and after he had made the request, he received a vision. It’s not a stretch to say that the Lord waited until after he was done praying to give the vision.

We could go on, of course. Mary. Joseph. The shepherds. No one praying in those cases.

The outstanding example that provides contrary evidence is John, in the Book of Revelation. It’s possible John was praying when this happened: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, ‘Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea’” (Revelation 1:10–11).

There are always exceptions, but the biblical evidence is substantial: If God wants to speak to you, you will know it. Period. However, I am not maintaining that God does not speak when people pray. He has spoken to me as I was praying or worshipping but often when I was not—in particular, three calls to ministry, two of them by place name. The warning of judgment I wrote of last week is another example among many.

The current teaching about how to hear God’s voice by being quiet and still is unnecessary, to put it kindly. In much the same way that Christians cannot do something to “access God’s power,” they likewise cannot do something to hear the voice of God Almighty. He will speak to you when He pleases. If it’s Him, there is no doubt you will hear Him. I encourage the reader to study this claim in Scripture to discover the truth of it.

One word of caution. If you hear words that are contrary to Scripture, you will know the voice is not His.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society

2Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Haran (Place). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 927). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

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