4 Barriers to Hearing God’s Voice (and Biblical Insights for Breakthrough)

Hearing God's voice‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ (Jer 33:3)

I sometimes receive comments from people who are interested in prophecy but are having difficulties in hearing God’s voice.

If you can relate to this, here is a checklist of possible barriers that could be hindering you, along with Biblical keys to help you overcome them.

4 Barriers to Hearing God’s Voice

1. The Barrier of Doubt or Unbelief

‘My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.’ (John 10:27 NLT)

First thing we need to do is settle the fact that God is speaking to us and wants us to hear Him.

Some people think that they cannot hear God speak unless they have a prophetic gift, or some other spiritual gift or special ministry. But this is a misconception. God wants to have a relationship with us! This is why Jesus paid the price of His life on the cross. Communicating with our Father is the basic right of sons and daughters and the joy of our God.

It is what we are created for!

‘For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.’ (Rom 8:14)

Never be intimidated by someone else’s spiritual gift, or the way another person hears from God. God has uniquely wired and created you to hear from Him.

2. The Barrier of Sin-Consciousness

‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.’ (Rom 8:1-2)

Sometimes people allow shame, condemnation or a sense of unworthiness to make them feel as though they are separated from God—and therefore, unable to hear His voice.

We need to remember that for Christians, the barrier of sin separating us from God has already been dealt with on the cross.

  • Sin is not the problem – sin-consciousness is.

This is our inheritance as Christian believers: to live conscious of our righteousness in Christ, rejoicing in the power of God’s grace and forgiveness, and to know the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood. (Heb 9:14, 10:19-22)

Rather than view sin or temptation as a barrier between God and us, God wants us to take the very issue that is troubling us into that place with Him. (Heb 4:15-16)

Sin loses its power when we bring it into the light.

In James, we are instructed to ‘confess our sins to one another.’ (James 5:16) If an issue of sin, addiction or temptation is continually troubling you, in addition to prayer, find a safe place to share and be accountable—for example to a Christian mentor or leader.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:7-9)

3. The Barrier of Fear

But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Heb 5:14)

Some people are fearful that what they are hearing may not be from God.

It’s true that there are many voices around our lives, and that we need to weigh up what we are hearing to ensure it is from God. Maturing in discernment is a process, so weighing up what we hear is important. Remember:

  • God’s voice will never contradict what the Bible says (2 Tim 3:16)
  • In church life, God’s word will build the church and promote unity (1 Cor 14:3)
  • What we are hearing from God will be in accordance with His nature – e.g. the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23)
  • What you hear from God will withstand the accountability of oversight (1 Thess 5:19-22)

The antidote to fear is a love relationship. (1 John 4:18) Think about when the phone rings and you pick it up. How different are your responses when the caller is:

  • A telemarketer
  • Someone you love

You see it’s not about the fact that someone is speaking—but recognising the Person behind the Voice. As you grow in your love relationship with God, you will get to know His voice. You can trust that what He has to share with you is good, and from His Spirit. (Luke 11:11-13)

4. The Barrier of Misunderstanding how the Holy Spirit Speaks

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:13)

When we talk about ‘hearing God’s voice,’ we are using an earthly expression to describe a spiritual concept. You and I use words, speech and body language to communicate. However, the Holy Spirit has many creative ways that He can communicate with us.

We hear God’s voice, not with our physical ears, but with our heart and our spirit. For example, here are some ways in which the Holy Spirit can speak to you in a prayer or devotional time:

  • You are reminded of a Bible verse or story—or one is highlighted to you when you are reading the Bible (Scripture is the primary way God speaks to us—and also the primary way we weigh up what we believe God is saying)
  • You ‘see’ a picture in your mind’s eye
  • An idea or impression comes to mind
  • You feel something emotionally or physically
  • A word comes to mind or you ‘see’ a written word in your imagination

Other ways God can speak are through:

  • Leaders, e.g. preaching or personal instruction
  • Dreams
  • Waking visions (like a movie in your imagination)
  • The insight of another person
  • Circumstances

In the book of Acts alone, we see God speaking through prophecies, dreams, visions, angels, leaders, signs, and the inner voice of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit often speaks in light, spontaneous impressions and we need to be intentional about listening.

Have you ever been speaking to someone and it is as though they have ‘zoned out’? It is not that they are out of hearing range, but they have momentarily been distracted, either internally or externally. We can zone in to God by having an expectant and listening attitude and being open to the many ways He can speak to us.

Do you have any insights about hearing God’s voice that you would like to share? Leave a comment in the box below. If the comments box is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.

Related Posts:

3 Simple Keys to Hearing God’s Voice

10 Ways You Can Hear God’s Voice

How to Recover the Wonder of Hearing God’s Voice

Has hurt or disappointment affected your ability to hear from God, your spiritual gift or ministry? The following article may help:
Break Free of Hurts that are Blocking Your Prophetic Gift

© Helen Calder Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching

On team with David McCracken Ministries: Prophetic Ministry That Empowers The Church

Did you receive this from a friend? Read more from Enliven Blog or sign to receive our weekly prophetic teaching updates at https://www.enlivenpublishing.com/blog

32 thoughts on “4 Barriers to Hearing God’s Voice (and Biblical Insights for Breakthrough)

  1. maria

    You said that we hear God in our hearts, and spirit, but I’ve heard God audibly before my son killed. God asked, would I still serve him if he took one of my children? I was just waking up from sleep. I knew it was God without question. I replied,yes God. I appreciate your insight.

  2. Helen Calder Post author

    Hi Maria, how like our Father God that He would honour and comfort you in a time of great need.
    I had a friend who heard God speak audibly to her a number of times, a precious gift.
    Bless you.

  3. David

    Having a deep,personal,intimate and intentional relationship with God is vital to heaing his voice.I spend the early hours of the morning quietly and specifically, in prayer,reading the word and listening to worship music.[only catching God on the run out the door during a busy day is fatal,my walk with God must be my priority.] Its important to be obediant and prompt when hearing God,not just a listener but a doer of what he says.I journal [write things down] and look for patterns and things being repeated during my day and over the week.I need a God consciousness [an awearness of God] and expect to hear him speak,so my focus needs to be on God with a continued dialogue during the day.I ask God what he is saying and be ready for a reply.I ask for wisdom,revelation and understanding. I need to adapt my hearing as to how God is speaking at the time, as it is not always the same.

  4. David

    I was on a church camp, a teaching retreat, and we had just finished the second session on Saturday morning. Our group had left the hall and went to the dining room for lunch. My wife and i finished lunch and decided to head back to the hall early,ready for the next session.When we arrived at the hall my wife picked up a worship banner [like a flag] and started to wave it, and she started humming, i also picked up a worship banner and started to wave it and i asked her “are you singing” she did’nt answer me so i said,”i am going to put some worship music on”.I put my banner on the stage and as i, turned to go to the music desk one of the guitars started playing, with the sound coming out of the speaker in the hall, we looked at each other liked stunned mullets, i guess God beat me to the music,”you keep enjoying yourself son, i will get the music”, or maybe he just wanted to join in !!!!!

  5. Helen Calder Post author

    I love it, David! May your testimonies of communion with God inspire many people.
    The thought about having a ‘God consciousness’ is worth exploring more fully – I must do that on the blog sometime. For me it is like a flow of worship from my spirit, along with the dialogue as you mention. We are all wired uniquely, so I would be interested to hear how others experience this.
    Thanks so much for leaving the comments, David 🙂

  6. Sherry

    Thank you for your insight , When I begin to write is when God begins to speak to me the most . There are times when I hear him in my spirit or see a vision . However I notice He speak the most to me when I writing or typing it’s as if He takes over and when I’m done I know with a doubt it was nobody but but the Holy Spirit. I have had no training and do not know a prophet personally, however I notice God is developing my gift by giving me words to share with and for my Pastor. This started out difficult and nerve recking but as I think about it , it’s good training and I have to make sure I hear from God before I share with my Pastor.

  7. Ja

    I find if I invite too many voices into my life (ie. others’ perspectives and opinions, commentaries or books (not necessarily bad things but voices nonetheless) even Google for that matter) I am placing my trust in them and enabling them to be ‘loud voices’. I believe the Holy Spirit is a gentleman and generally won’t yell over the top of them.

    Our help comes from God, we need not look elsewhere.

    Love your next post about Him redeeming our stories. Thank you!

  8. Helen Calder Post author

    Thank you! I love the thought about ‘loud voices’, the volume of the different voices we are hearing is definitely something we need to be aware of! We need to turn the dial down on some of them. 🙂

  9. Andrea Savoia - Adams

    Thank you for sending me this link, I appreciate it. However, none of these really apply to me. I do know God’s voice and how to recognize He is talking to me. I’ve had a very close intimate relationship with Him since I was a small child. It just so happens that it’s not that close anymore. or at least doesn’t feel that way. I don’t know, I can’t really explain it all.. Maybe I’m too preoccupied with the what and why, that I’m too busy to hear Him completely all of the time. I know He’s talking and I do hear some of the things but not like I want to or used to. I believe that I just need to surrender all.. Surrender myself completely to Him again . ?

  10. Helen Calder Post author

    Andrea, surrender sounds like a great place to be!
    If there is no apparent reason that you are not hearing God’s voice (or receiving prophetic revelation) and Holy Spirit is not revealing anything in particular, surrender and rest. By faith, enjoy His being with you, being the Father’s beloved child, soak in God’s Word and listen to empowering teaching. In time, you will realise that the flow has begun once more.

  11. maria

    I heard God’s voice speak in my heart. I heard him, but it was with my heart. I also recall asking in .prayer for God to put a relationship together with a man i was seeing. As I was praying a feeling came over me. I no longer wanted this relationship. It was God’s voice telling me he didn’t want that relationship for me, God was answering me. I was in a sinful relationship with the guy.

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Maria, God is at work in your life! Thank you for sharing your testimony 🙂 Your story is a reminder that when God speaks to us and we listen, He is at work on our hearts and desires at the same time, aligning them with His own.

  12. Daniel

    As i was riding around the island with my mom on our golf cart one day we had a lot of tourist on the road at the moment and I heard the Lord singing part of a secular love song to me. Im just paraphrasing, i dont know the exact lyrics. “And its you and me and all of these people but i dont know why, i cant take my eyes off of you.” thats all i heard but i though that was really nice, but then again everything He does is nice, huh?

  13. Jhurose

    I have so many experiences in life that I can’t understand that sometimes I didn’t give it an attention. I have encountered some visions in my daily life and I don’t know what this kind of ability that I have.

    Sometimes, I was focus unintentionally in 1 thing or person then it’s automatically some ideas, gut feelings or imagination appearing in my mind but I didn’t give it any attention or just to ignore it immediately.
    But the time that already happen the same in my vision then that was also the time that I remember the time when I notice that things.

    And now, it’s happened often and I wander and afraid also because I don’t know if is a gift for me from God or just another reason why just me like this.

    I hope that you can help me to this.

  14. stephen

    I Can Only Hear GOD Speak In My Revelationz But I So Desire 2 Hear Him Speak Audibly Y I’m Awake*sad*..I Jst Wish He Wuld Render My Request..LORD PLZZZ!

  15. uju

    Kudos to you ma! Yeah I hear inside me , in my mind or heart , a voice that is not mine , even when I pray or praise God , this voice replies to whatever am saying. Is dat God speaking? Sometimes my prayer is like a chat , like am chatting with some one and the person replies to every question I ask , and sometimes cautions me if needed , for instance there was a day I went for a party and took some achcol, and was kind of quilty, I drank cos its been long I have had achcol but felt quilt all over me so I prayed and begged for forgiveness, my prayer that nite was a chatting one so I said pls forgive that I won’t do it again , so he said to me ” don’t do it again” I heard this clearly inside my mind or heart. My question is that God I chats with ? And is it he that interupts my prayer or praises sometimes with great assurance from my prayer. Note : pls don’t always receive emails from you expect I go back to the previous ones before I could read out your replis. Thnx and God bless. Uju

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Uju, sorry I missed this comment and have taken a long time to reply 🙂

      There are many different ways in which we can hear God’s voice, including the types of conversations that you have.

      The main thing is that you need to weigh up and check that it really is God speaking, and that you are hearing clearly.

      Even when you have heard Him clearly for a long period of time, and you are used to His voice and the way He speaks, never take it for granted – always weigh up (discern) what you hear to make sure it really is your loving Father, or Jesus, or the Holy Spirit speaking to you.

      There are some basic checks, or filters, that you can use to help you weigh up whether a voice or insight is God, including making sure that it agrees with what the Bible says, good fruit, and so on. Keep watching for my article due next week on Tues 3 Feb which will list these checks. I’ll try and remember to put the link back here. Thanks for the question and for reading Enliven Blog, Uju 🙂

  16. Sharon King

    My father died just before I turned 3. As a small child, I would always think about my father when I passed through a certain area. When I got older, I asked my mother where my father died, and she told me the area and it was the same area that I was in as a small child that I ALWAYS thought about him. A couple of years ago, a minister I was working with told me that I have the gift of discernment. A few months later, someone else told me that I have a gift. I
    always thought that I was a lucky guesser. Sometimes I have these strong feelings and later I found out that I was right all along. Just unsure about some things.

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Sharon, there could be some prophetic insight happening there as well as discernment. It’s a good idea to begin to discover more about your gifts and how to grow in them. Thanks for leaving the comment.

  17. felix

    Hi Helen…been a while since I last spoke with you. Hope u are doing great.
    Anyway I just have some few questions.
    About sin consciousness seperating us from God. My question is if I’m a Christian and I go fornicate intentionally with my girlfriend then the next morning I decide to go to God in prayer in this same nature , does this seperate me from God?

    Or should I just say does sin seperate us from God. Not once, not twice but continually when we sin, yet deep down in our hearts we know we just wanna obey God, but we are just not able to?

    Secondly u were talking about some of the ways to hear from God, where u talked about seeing a picture in your minds eye. Could u pls explain further for me and about that picture , do you create it yourself or its been put there by the Holy spirit?

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Felix, in situations like this, where the problem is ongoing, I recommend finding a leader to explain the situation to and work through from there. The ultimate test of wanting to deal with sin and be clean before God is in our ability to be honest, confess the problem, and have someone to help us, pray with us, and to whom we can be accountable.

      Regarding prophetic vision, this article should help: https://www.enlivenpublishing.com/blog/2015/03/31/8-ways-to-grow-in-prophetic-visions-and-pictures/

      1. Stephen Ngunanga

        I thank God for all your replies to different questions people have asked. am really jovial ,Am a Kenyan and have always wanted to serve God outside the country and more so have a mentor outside Kenya,however my wishes have never been true. God has always insighted me to serve Him outside the country. when I read your message and David’s I felt like this is my right time to trace my mentor. please advise me on how I can get chances to serve God outside Kenya for that’s where I feel my calling is, please pray about the issue and may God open your eyes about it. I will appreciate your response.

        1. Helen Calder Post author

          Hi Stephen, I’m glad to hear of the call of God on your life – I can’t give you specific advice about opportunities, but I do pray for you to experience the clarity of direction you are looking for

  18. Lidia

    I began to have visions at a very young age, but I did not know what it was, since in my family no one was born again Christian, but time went by and at the age of 36 I gave my life to God, I yearned for the baptism of the holy Spirit, until 5 years later the Lord gave me the gift of speaking in tongues, and that same day at the same time I starter to see like baby angels, in a playful mode, it was one God’s experience, then I starter having dreams, of events that were actually happening within days, and the sad part was that this were devastation, natural disasters and I knew I’ve seen it in dreams and did not know how to say it; Anyhow time went by and one good day came home from overnight shift, about 7:00 AM. lay to sleep, and suddenly, I heard this thundering voice, saying get up and pray, your brother is in the er. I was shaking and without a doubt I knew that was the Lord speaking to me but I did not have the orientation, or discernment; indeed I got up and prayed, with groaning traveling prayer is one way I pray, indeed my brother was in the er. that specific morning, and diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the Lord healed him… and from then on I am more careful in paying attention to the voice of the Lord, and is so unmistakable… Praise God!!!

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      What a powerful testimony, Lidia! Praise God for His intervention – shows how important HE considers prayer, when His Spirit calls upon us to pray in those much needed times

  19. Simon

    Hi Helen,

    35 years ago, I had an experience I can vividly describe as the outpouring of the gift of prophecy upon my life. It was like a 5-hour encounter within which I received a number of revelations in one seating as I studied the Scriptures and prayed. From then on, I would receive clear words of instructions to specific people. I was only about 16 then, and so was very naive and didn’t have any good guide. I would receive very detailed (sometimes very scary) revelations including sometimes seeing and having a special knowing of the type of spirit driving specific people, and so on.

    That was just weeks before I gained admission into a college where i had to live in the boarding house. School life took a bad toll on my spiritual life as I had little time to fellowship, study, read and wait on the Lord. I also found myself indulging in some perverse sexual acts especially masturbation , and this often made me feel terribly dirty and guilty. Then I noticed I no longer used to enjoy using the gift, and the fire and passion the gift brought to my life was fast waning. By the end of my first year in college, I could hardly remember if I had ever operated in a spiritual gift. I would yearn for it but then nothing would happen. My prayer began to feel dry and I had the feeling God was very angry with me and far away from me.

    I have since lived a life where I virtually find myself flip-flopping from one ambition to another, and could hardly settle down to do anything worthwhile with my life. I was very confused, and this made me even pursue programs in areas where I had virtually no strength in. The result is that I now live a life of little passion and drive. I have made several attempts to recover the gift, but the more attempts I make, the further away I feel from God, and the gifts feel from me.

    I still however receive randomized, but very unclear, often distorted messages through dreams, visions and waking revelations. The gift is still largely latent, and I agree I have a lot to do to bring it to realization. I seriously need help, Helen. It’s been hard to find a trusted person to talk to as I am myself an elder of my local church.


  20. Kiara

    I’m learning that God wants to answer any kind of question we have, and doesn’t want us to think anything is too trivial. I’m also realizing that that is a method of His training to hear Him for larger things.
    Last year I was on a retreat and we were about to go out to eat. I saw that there was pizza and other foods with goat cheese on the menu so I was curious about what it tastes like. I was about to look on google when I thought ‘I guess I could just ask God ‘ and it was like a thought/prayer and before I could even finish asking what goat cheese tastes like, the phrase ‘it’s tangy’ came into my mind. I was like……well that’s strange. Cheese isn’t tangy. I obviously made that up.

    Then I checked google and that’s exactly what it said!!!! My jaw dropped and I was floored. I was so excited that the Holy Spirit answered me so quickly about something so random. God is so good.

  21. Treasure B. Gama

    I have had a voice of God when he spoke to me and said I should pray, then when he called me.
    Then when I lost my son and he spoke he was to give me another but a girl. I have experience God’s audible but I always want more.

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