Stop Asking God to Speak and Start Praying for Better Ears

Have you ever found yourself frustrated because it seems like God’s not speaking to you? I know. It’s hard. But I’m so challenged by this thought from my friend, Jeff Goins… What if God is already speaking, but we just aren’t in tune with His voice? Jeff is guest posting more about this on the blog today. Take it away, Jeff…

I don’t know about you, but I wish God would just speak to me. Oh, I know. He speaks through Scripture and community and as a still small voice in my soul. I get that. But sometimes I just wish the clouds would part, a shining light would drop down from the heavens, and the booming voice of the Almighty would speak.

Is that too much to ask?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who wishes for these things. But I wonder if God did speak to us, if He called us in the way that we expected, if we would really listen. In fact, I have good reason to believe that we wouldn’t.

Three thousand years ago, four or five miles northwest of Jerusalem in the hill country of Ephraim, there was a small town called Ramah, where a man named Elkanah lived. He had two wives, one who was infertile and the other who reminded her of this constantly.

Once during a trip to the ancient city of Shiloh, the barren wife Hannah was so plagued with shame that she made a public vow. If she would become pregnant, she would give her son to the high priest, dedicating his life to religious service. Shortly after, she conceived a son and named him Samuel. As soon as he was weaned, he was sent to Shiloh to serve the priest Eli.

Samuel was a special boy, a gift to his parents who long awaited his birth and a gift to Eli who only had disobedient sons. He served the priest in the work that he did, and the older man groomed him for a promising future.

One night, after months if not years of service, Samuel awoke before dawn. Startling awake, he sat up in bed and looked around.


He swore he’d heard somebody whispering his name. But no one was there. Settling back into bed, the boy fell asleep only to be awakened again a few seconds later. This time, he was sure; it was a voice.

“Here I am!” he shouted back. No answer. Running into Eli’s room, he shouted, “Here I am; you called me.”

Eli rose out of bed, squinting his eyes, which were beginning to fail him.

“I did not call,” he said, confused. “Go back and lie down.”

Samuel was confused as well, but he did not want to argue with his master. So he returned to his room and slowly laid his head back down. He forced his eyes shut, too anxious to sleep. For what seemed like hours but in reality was only a few minutes, Samuel lay in bed. Then as his eyelids began to grow heavy, he heard it again, just as quiet as before but persistent as ever.

“Samuel . . .”

He shot up in bed, his heart racing. He called his master while once again rushing into Eli’s room. Again, the two were equally confused.

“My son,” Eli said. “I did not call. Go back and lie down.”

But before Samuel could even put his head down on the pillow, he heard the voice again, even louder than before. He got up again and called to Eli, his voice quivering with fear.

But the master’s response was different this time. He told the boy to stop calling and instead to listen, giving him six words to say. So Samuel returned to bed and listened. When he heard the call a final time, he responded:

“Speak, for your servant is listening.”

And with those words, his life was never the same. How the boy heard and answered that call led to many significant events in Israel’s history, including the anointing of two kings, one who became the most famous the country would ever know. Samuel was called, and he answered.

But the scary part — the part we should pay attention to — is that he almost missed it.

The truth, I think, is that God is speaking. We just struggle to listen. And sometimes we mistakenly believe that calling is about listening. But what if it was more about learning to hear? What if God was already speaking, but we just weren’t in tune with His voice?

When we look at the call of Samuel, we see a similar process. It’s not just enough to listen. You have to put yourself in a posture to hear in the first place. And that choice is actually three choices:

1. Be still.
God’s call tends to not come in the midst of noise and chaos. It often arrives when we are quiet — late at night or early in the morning or maybe in the middle of the day. Or perhaps, those are just the times when we can hear.

2. Ask for help.
God’s call is not just personal. Moses had Aaron and Miriam. Jesus had the inner circle on the Mount of Transfiguration. It may come in private but it’s confirmed in community.

3. Say yes.
I know it sounds simplistic, but God will only push us so far when we say no. He is looking for us to invite Him deeper into our lives. Yes, He’s calling, but it’s up to you to respond.

That’s what I learned once I answered my call to be a writer. I realized in His own way, God had been calling me to this vocation my whole life. I just lacked the ability to discern the message. And the truth is it took a team of mentors and a discovery process, not a single epiphany, to finally figure out what I was meant to do.

Maybe the same will be true for you, too.

TheArtofWork_hirez Jeff Goins is the author of four books including his latest, The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do. Jeff’s new book will help you make sense of your life, understand how a calling works, and what the next step is. Find out more here.

Today, we’re giving away 10 copies of The Art of Work right here on the blog! Just leave a comment below with which of the 3 choices you’re going to focus on this week to listen for God’s voice.


  1. Maria says

    It was meant for me to read this today. When my dad passed away I felt something change in my relationship with God. I felt like I couldn’t hear him like I used too. Lots of confusion and doubt. Since then I have been feeling defeated in my faith wondering what happened. I’m going to start with being still, and praying that I have ears to hear. Thank you Lysa

  2. says

    Be Still–how do I learn to hear God’s voice? By reading His word and understanding how He spoke to other ordinary people like me. Get to know Him through the ways He responded to the people. His word must enter my heart, isn’t that how I build relationships –good or bad–with everyone else? So be still and let God’s word penetrate my heart.

  3. Trisha says

    Saying Yes!

    During my quiet time this morning I was praying about this exact thing. I want to hear, but when I do I need to say…. YES!

  4. Carole page says

    Be still. I have been asking and pleading but have not stopped to just be and see what He says

  5. Nancy Yates says

    Be Still—let me focus on Jesus…not on what I am going to do today. Jesus already has laid out my plans for today. Open my heart and mind to what He has in store for me. I just need to trust Jesus that He will guide my steps today.

  6. Babs says

    I really needed this today! Just this morning after meditating on the next step in a matter, the Spirit of God confirmed my action. God’s voice was so clear. But the peace bought to my soul is comforting. God bless you as you continue to encourage others in the things of God!

  7. Andrea R. says

    I am going to focus on the choice of being still. Do we go on the mission field? When? How? I want to hear from you Lord. After going on another trip last week (this is now year 7 visiting this same country), my husband and I are wondering again if we should be their on the mission field full or at least part time. God, help us to know…

  8. says

    Hi I have been getting lots of little “heads up” that I need to do something that fulfills and disciplines me. I want to do something that I feel passionate about. I am a mom, have a medium-sized family, and work part-time. That does not fill that feeling that while all that I am doing is good, that it is fulfilling. I want to make a difference for people. If people are what matter, then what greater joy than to work in what bears fruit. I don’t just want a job to help the family finances, I want to do something that I love doing. I have always wanted to write. I am somewhat comfortable with people/public. I still deal with fear and social acceptance. Been a believer for years, but boy is there a ways to go in spiritual maturity. I would like to get my hands on this book and have it spill all over me. 🙂 Thank you for your time and attention. ~Grace

  9. CJ Kennedy says

    Wow – It would definitely be ” Be Still”. Hard to shut down all the voices and things going on in my head to just be still and listen. And then to wait – expectantly – for the Lord. I feel like I am in limbo. He leads/urges me daily, step by step, but I long to do something beautiful and precious for His Glory (taken from Gwen Smith’s song) and Honor. Would love some extra guidance. Hope you choose me to receive one of the books. Thanks! God’s Will be done.

  10. Travena Rogan says

    Ask For Help – I enjoyed how you reminded me of how other Biblical characters had help. When you are use to flying solo in your endeavors you fail to see who God has put before you to fulfill His purpose. I will ask for help from those who God has purposefully placed in my life.

  11. Kim says

    I’m getting my family passports today so we can go on our mission trip to Guatemala. I have been led to this amazing opportunity, and I’m humbled to get to go serve the widows and orphans. Be still and know…

  12. Pat says

    I’m going to concentrate on asking for help. I really need to be able to do this in the month’s ahead. I would love to win Jeff’s book as I have a sister in Christ who struggles with this all the time, not know what God wants her to do for a profession and where He is calling her to be. It would be such a blessing to her! Thank you Lysa. I so enjoy your blogs and books. God bless you!

  13. Esthet says

    I have struggled with this for sometime. I am learning to sit still in his presence even tho I feel afraid of what he may say. I do know God is Faithful. I have been thinking about listening to a recording of the word of God to get more of his word into me. Trying to focus on Jesus & not my problems. I would really like to read this book. Thank you

  14. April Anstey says

    I don’t know what step God is calling me towards, but I know that he’s calling me….I’m struggling with trying to figure it out, I keep “looking” for an answer, a clue….something. Trying to be patient and hoping that this bible study will help me do just that.

  15. says

    Be still and Be in His Word.
    I believe I have been doing these out of order.
    I am saying yes but not being still and listening for what He is asking of me and why would I ask for help? Lol! Ya, know supermamas surely wouldn’t need help!
    ( I know right, only all the time.)
    Be still and be in His Word. Then I will be able to ask for help and to say yes to what He’s asking of me.

  16. Linda says

    I like to start each day with something that I can learn. My life has changed dramatically in the last 18 months. I want to change my life & do what God wants me to do with my life.

  17. Michelle Batten says

    Being still is where I need to start. I know what to do, but doing it is a different story, especially in the chaos of today. I would love a copy of this book because I hold a small group on this topic, and I always welcome new perspectives. God bless you!