But What Does God Sound Like?
Updated: Dec 14, 2022
By Michelle Hurst
Hear Him Louder Essay Series: Michelle's Story
It was late and I’d already tucked in my son once, and re-tucked him in after he got up the first time. I should have already been in bed myself, but school was canceled again so I found myself sitting on the couch scrolling, watching late night TV and wasting time.
When he called for me a third time, I gave up. I shut down the computer and crawled into his twin-sized bed. I let his buzzed hair tickle my chin while I kissed the top of his head and asked what was wrong. He said that he was scared and that he didn’t want to sleep in this tiny bed all alone. He explained that I got to sleep with dad every night and couldn’t I just sleep with him for a little while. I assured him that his sister was right next door and that we were just down the hall. I suggested that he try and get the dog to sleep with him. He was not satisfied and I was not willing to give up my queen-sized mattress for his twin-sized one.
I reminded him that he was never really alone and that when he gets scared he could always pray. Since prayer has always been elusive to grown-up me, and since he is only five, I asked him if he knew what it meant to pray. He has heard prayers often enough before bed or before dinner or at church, but I wasn’t sure he really understood the concept. Sometimes I am not even sure I do.
My prayers lately have mostly been “help” or “thank you” and I know all too well that sometimes it can just feel like a one-sided conversation. I worried for years that I was doing it wrong or not enough and hated having to pray out loud in front of others. The Psalms are my favorite model and permission to give God my unedited prayers, since David wasn’t afraid to cry out, complain, question or curse his enemies. I wasn’t ready to teach my son to curse his enemies but I did want him praying like David, with his whole heart.
My son stayed quiet and I thought maybe he was already asleep but I kept talking anyways. I told him that prayer was just talking to God. That He promises that when we call on him, He will answer (Psalm 17:6 NIV). That he could pray whenever he wanted and say whatever he felt like. That there aren’t any special rules or topics or things to memorize. Just talking, like to a friend. When he is scared or sad or thankful. I felt like my description fell a little flat but gave myself credit for trying.
I kissed his head again and got ready to sneak out of his room because he was still silent and breathing deep and I thought surely he was already dreaming.
Then ever so quietly he asked the question that plenty of grown-ups are too afraid to voice. “But He never talks to me,” he whispered.
I replied, “Of course He does. He just rarely uses out-loud words.”
“But what does He sound like?”
“Oh, sweet boy,” I answered. “It is sometimes hard to tell, but He talks all the time. Mostly we just have to listen less with our ears and more with our hearts.
“He whispers in the wind. He fills in the quiet if we leave any room for him. He sounds like a nagging feeling that won't go away. He sounds like laughter and extra scoops of ice cream and phrases in our favorite books.
“Sometimes He sounds an awful lot like other people, ones that we can hear just fine. And sometimes when we pray, He is quiet, sounding more like a hug feels.”
Just then he wrapped his two little sleepy arms around me and squeezed me tight.
I whispered to him, “See, just then? I heard Him loud and clear.”
Photo credit: Wix media.
The Hear Him Louder Essay Series is a guest essay series where God's daughters share their stories of hearing God’s whispers in their every day. It’s meant to serve as an encouragement for the times when God feels far and seems quiet. When we read each other’s stories of how He meets us, it reminds and reassures us that He is near. May this series be an invitation for us to listen for His voice together.
Don't miss any posts in this series! Subscribe to receive notifications for each new essay, posted every other Thursday. When you subscribe, you'll receive a link to a FREE resource, A Listening Guide + Prayer Map, which walks you through four heart postures to help you learn to hear His voice in prayer. This guide is a tool to listen for Him differently, and capture your prayer time in a new way, helping you know Him deeper and hear Him louder.
Learn more about each posture:
1 | Know: Will God Speak, Even to Me?
2 | Expect: Can I Expect to Hear God?
3 | Listen: How Do I Listen for God?
4 | Connect: Is God Really Right Here?
New to this series? Check out the rest of the series!
Interested in contributing to the Hear Him Louder Essay Series? The call for submissions opens twice a year. To submit an essay outside of those windows, contact me.
Michelle is a wife, a mother of two, a writer and educator. She has written for The Mighty, The Grit and Grace Project and other educational blogs.
Her favorite topics are faith, chronic illness, hope, relationships and middle age. When she's not writing, she loves to read, hike and nap.
You can find Michelle at her website.