Saturday, May 03, 2014

The More Faithful, the Less Need to Hear God's Voice?

I know that most people in my circle believe that God does not speak directly to us today; but a few in my circle do believe so, and even fewer claim to have experienced it.

I find no reason to claim that God does not speak directly to us today. I grew up with this belief, and know all the arguments. On re-examination of those arguments in more recent years, I find them unconvincing.

So I'm open to hearing God's voice speak to me. Have been for a few years now. But I've never heard it (at least to the extent that I would recognize it as such).

One person has told me that God speaks to me often, but that I don't hear him, because I'm too "brainy"; you can't think your way into hearing God's voice. When I first heard this, I dismissed the idea, having grown up with the notion that the Scriptures teach that we are to always have our brains "turned on".

But then I heard teaching from another source, and it pointed out that in 1 Corinthians 14, Paul contrasts two different worship styles: "with the spirit", and "with the understanding". Paul clearly says that when he prays in the spirit, his understanding is not informed of what's being prayed:

HCSB 1Cor 14:14 For if I pray in another language, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.
Paul then goes on to say that he will worship in both styles:
HCSB 1 Cor 14:15 What then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with my understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with my understanding.
But he makes it clear that within the assembly, he will only pray/sing with the understanding, and not with the spirit. The reason he gives is that the assembly is for the purpose of building up one another (the purpose is not to worship, although worship takes place in the assembly; rather, worship is the purpose of life (Rom 12:1), whereas the assembly has the purpose of building up one another):
HCSB 1 Cor 14:26 .... All things must be done for edification.
Since praying with the spirit is not understandable to us mere mortals, and the purpose of the assembly is to increase understanding, then praying with the spirit, although fine worship, is inappropriate within the assembly:
HCSB 1 Cor 14:2  For the person who speaks in another language is not speaking to men but to God, since no one understands him; however, he speaks mysteries in the Spirit. But the person who prophesies speaks to people for edification, encouragement, and consolation. The person who speaks in another language builds himself up, but he who prophesies builds up the church.
16 Otherwise, if you praise with the spirit, how will the uninformed person say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may very well be giving thanks, but the other person is not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in other languages more than all of you; 19 yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, in order to teach others also, than 10,000 words in another language.
27 If any person speaks in another language, there should be only two, or at the most three, each in turn, and someone must interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, that person should keep silent in the church and speak to himself and to God.
I point all of this out to make it clear that there are times when it is perfectly acceptable worship for us to "turn off" our brains, our understanding. When Paul prayed in the spirit, he did so with his brain "turned off"; his understanding was "unfruitful" (v. 14).

Since learning this, I've tried to be open to hearing the voice of God. Alas, my brain (or something) still gets in the way.

More recently, another person, who has heard God's voice, as clearly as if someone was sitting in the car talking with him, has echoed that first message, telling me that God is going to speak to me. I told this person that I had been open to hearing God's voice, but frankly, it ain't happ'nin'.

His response floored me, and is the main point of this very long, rambling post. He asked me who had the most faith, him (who I believe to be a faithful man of God, and who has heard God's voice), or Job.

Well, given that choice, I guess I'd have to answer "Job".

He then pointed out that Job never heard God's voice during all of his travail, until that period of testing was over.

The point resonated with me: the more faithful one is, the less the need to hear God's voice.

And then shortly afterward I read the passage in John 20 wherein Thomas doubted the resurrection, insisting on physical evidence. Once that physical evidence was presented to him, Thomas humbled himself to proclaim faith. Jesus' answer coincides with what my friend said above:
HCSB John 20:29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
I'm not saying I'm particularly faithful, but it was a comforting idea, that God trusts me enough to live my life independent of directly hearing his voice (or seeing the physical evidence with my own senses) so far in my life. Of course, that comforting thought is contrasted with the realization that according to the first person, God is talking to me, but I'm just too dense to hear him.

Originally published at: