Listening to that Still, Small Voice

Following God can be confusing.

Because sometimes, he tells us in big, bold, you-can’t-miss messages what it is he’s doing and how he wants us to follow him or where he wants us to go next. Sometimes it’s just incredibly, refreshingly, undoubtedly obvious.

But then there are those times when you pray and you pray and you just don’t know what he wants you to do next or whether he’s speaking to you. When you try everything you can think of to hear what he’s saying to you, and the line just continues to crackle with silence.

There are times in my life when I’ve been absolutely certain about what God was telling me to do. When Scripture lined up with my heart’s desire, when I was overwhelmed by an only-from-God sense of peace about a decision, when words of confirmation came raining down on me in every direction.

Yet, those times, when it almost seems like God had a bullhorn he was using to keep my attention, are exceedingly rare, especially the longer and further I go in my faith.

In the Old Testament we’re introduced to the idea that God exists not in the wind or the earthquake or the fire but instead in a quiet whisper—what has been translated in other places as “the still, small voice.”

There’s a comfort in this, that even when God isn’t banging on a drum or blasting a trumpet in our ear, he’s still reaching out and leading and guiding us. He’s still speaking to us and beckoning us, it’s just with a more subtle approach. Sometimes, he’s just waiting for us to stop, listen and—this can almost be the hardest part—trust that still, small voice.

Because with such a still, small voice, sometimes it isn’t clear or obvious that what we’re hearing or thinking is from God. What if it’s from me? Even worse, what if it’s from Satan?!

Fortunately, though, Jesus tells us that “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else.” (John 10:27-29)

Through much of Scripture, we see this assurance that, like the psalter wrote, “You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.” (Psalm 73:24)

Sometimes we just have to trust that if we are following God and obeying him and loving him and reaping the fruits of the Spirit, that he is guiding us and speaking to us—even when all we’re getting is the faintest whisper and an inkling of what to do next.

For me, it’s a matter of taking the Lord at his Word—literally, trusting that these things he’s said in Scripture are true—and then taking the step to be “faithful with little,” like we see in the parable of the talents (Luke 19).

What I mean by that is that when some vague idea to serve Him or to follow Him or to reach out and show love to another comes to mind—assuming it is not violating Scripture or the fruits of the Spirit—then I choose to trust that it is from the Lord and take a step in faith to pursue it.

For instance, an aquaintance of mine was recently walking through a heartbreaking time. We’re not super close and I’ve never experienced what she’s going through. I don’t have the words to say, and since I’m not really that close to her anyway, what good would it do to say anything anyway?

And yet, as I was praying over her situation, I felt like I ought to send her a card and, instead of trying to say something that made sense of the situation, to just tell her how much she meant to me and how much I appreciated the friendship she has shown me.

I don’t know if it helped, if it encouraged or if she just tossed it out without caring much about it.

But for me, that’s not really the point.

The point is that I choose to credit the idea to the Lord and to take it as an opportunity to, in one tiny way, follow and obey him. Because, as he said while he was here on earth, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me.” (John 14:23-24)

So in that instance—and many others—where I have a vague notion of serving Him in some—often seemingly random—way but I’m not certain whether it’s truly from the Holy Spirit, I make the choice to trust that it is.

And so I wrote and mailed it—my attempt to be “faithful with little”—and trust the rest to Him.

Related Posts
Being Willing to Serve
When We Try to Make God Choose (A) or (B)
Discerning God's Will for Your Life: Some basic principles to guide you


  1. This is definitely where I'm at right now. Romania was a huge, bold clear "this is what you're to do" thing. And now that it's done for now, I'm thinking and praying on what's next. The answer's not nearly so clear as the one to go to Romania. But like you said, be faithful in the small things. Speak up when He prompts. Encourage, show love, be a blessing and keep listening to those whispers. He's faithful and will lead us in His time to where we're meant to be. :)

    1. Yes, yes, yes! Can't wait to hear more about your trip to Romania. It's always so incredible to have those super-clear milestones in our faith that we can look back on and KNOW God was talking to us and directing us and to know we listened and followed and reaped from them. In harder times, those have been some of the "parting the Red Sea" sort of things for me that I look back on and encourage me to keep trusting and pushing and waiting.

  2. Definitely. I deal with this a lot in youth ministry, teens anxious about missing out on what God has for them. I often point out God's approach when Jonah was going to miss out. Often God gives us many options. This is a good reminder that it's also good to be still...and to listen to His whispers. Thanks.

    1. Yep, totally agree. There have definitely been times when there's been one thing that God has made completely clear for me to do, but oftentimes it's not quite as clear (as long as it's not sin or anything else directly addressed in the Bible) and God gives us freedom to choose from a variety of options. It just seems yet another example to me of his grace, time and time again!

  3. Such wise words! I just shared a link to this post on my facebook page... I also added your button to my blog sidebar! :)


    1. Aw, thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed this post and appreciate you sharing it with others!!

  4. Goodness. Thank you so much for posting this, as it speaks directly to what I've been struggling with lately.

    As my husband and I plow through some very life-changing decisions we often wonder if we are still pursuing the will of God. We've got plenty of people encouraging us, and plenty telling us to let it go. It can be confusing enough to listen to that still small voice with two opposite sides shouting at you all the time!

    I really feel like this blog post was a confirmation of what I already knew. That I have to walk in faith and trust Him to guide me.

    I think I'm going to write the (John 10:27-29) scripture on my mirror! :)

    1. I'm so glad to hear how God is using this post in your own life to give you encouragement! It's so neat how he does that for us :) It definitely can be hard to listen and trust and keep following, but it's so worth it in the end. I've seen that time and time again when I've made what seems like to many people to be outlandish decisions, but they were always following along with God's guiding and never failed to disappoint me with the incredible things that came from them. Best of luck as you continue to make your decisions. Can't wait to hear how God works it all out for you and your husband!

  5. Simply loving God this day. Praise Him in advance!

  6. Imagine my thrill to find this post when it was so similar to the one I just blogged about. "That still small voice" and doing what the LORD asks us to.


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