I was asked an interesting question from a young person... "How come I never hear God speak?" They explained that they heard everyone talking about how "God said this" and "God told me that"... and it didn't match up with their experience. They came to the conclusion that they must be doing something wrong OR that people were faking it.
Our conversation got cut off, so I was not able to fully answer their question. But I've been thinking about it ever since.
In reflecting on the notion of God's speaking in my own life... I have never heard the audible voice of God. Rarely has God spoken to me in ways that redirected my life (perhaps I can count on two hands, those kinds of times). And their have been seasons when it does not seem like God is "speaking" at all.
But the truth is, I do hear God speak to me - but it is less like a voice and more like a sense of his presence, a sense of his peace, a thoughtful reflective space where my soul becomes aware of something God wants to communicate... this communication occurs within my thoughts and when I am quiet.
For instance, I was awake last week at 3 in the morning and could not go back to sleep. My mind was filled with tumultuous thoughts. And then as I prayed, my thoughts gained clarity and I felt like God directed me to four truths - things he wanted me to see. I wrote these down and have returned to them again and again since then.
To me, this was an occasion of God's speaking, but also as clearing away confusion and directing my thoughts towards his truth. And the way I know God was involved/that God was communicating to me... was that these thoughts had resonance, and bore good fruit in the days that followed.
This way of speaking is the main and plain for me. And I would argue, this way of God speaking is the main and plain for most people. When God speaks to us, it is less with a "voice of thunder" and more as internal impressions (the "still small voice") that seem to come from a deeper source than my own mind (this is also how God speaks through scripture to us).
So the trick is more to attend to God, to find quiet, to reflect, to think deeply, to direct our questions to God and to wait...
And the reason many of us do not hear God in this way, is that we no longer know how to do this. We no longer know how to wait on God.
Perhaps this is something we all can practice in the Lenten season that starts in a week.
Grace & Peace,