Listening To The Wrong God’s Voice

I thought I heard the voice of God. It wasn’t. No matter how much I wanted it to be, it wasn’t.

It’s not that I didn’t ask. I did. It was in my prayers daily.

“God, if this isn’t your will please let me know.”

But I already knew. I knew what I was doing was not God-approved. I’d read the Bible. I knew what it said. The words of the Bible couldn’t be any plainer.

I already knew.

God's VoiceI kept asking, though, trying to convince myself that God didn’t mind, that he was perfectly fine with my choices. I tried to convince myself not only that my choices were not contrary to God’s will but that they were well within his desire for my life.

They weren’t. As Jim Croce said:

I only wish my words could just convince myself
That it just wasn’t real, but that’s not the way it feels
(Jim Croce, Operator, 1972.)

I knew what was real, but I didn’t want to deal with reality. I was like one of the people God spoke of in Isaiah 29:13.

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

My heart was on my desire, not on my Savior. No matter how much I tried to convince myself that God must approve – else why would I have such strong desires – I couldn’t get around the fact that the Bible clearly prohibited what I wanted, and what I did to get what I wanted.

A Change Came Along

What changed? Not my understanding. That had already been set. I understood that what I was doing was wrong, but I wanted it so badly I did it anyway. No amount of convincing was going to keep me from pursuing that desire.

So what changed? The desire itself.

Almost overnight.

One day I desired the sin. The next day I didn’t.

God took the desire from me. That was the answer to my prayer: “God, if this isn’t your will please let me know.” It turns out I didn’t understand the prayer, but the Spirit did. The answer to the prayer was to change the desire within me.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27.)

I’m glad God answers prayer, even when it’s not the prayer I thought I was praying.


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11 Responses to Listening To The Wrong God’s Voice

  1. That’s amazing that God took that desire from you, Tim. That doesn’t always happen — often the desire remains, we indulge it, and we reap the consequences. God was (is!) so merciful. Perhaps the fact that you stayed connected with him, even in an imperfect way, allowed it to happen.

    • Tim says:

      Good point, Jeannie. I think it’s an instance of the Holy Spirit not letting go, despite what I thought I wanted. He’s the one who kept me connected throughout.

  2. Mary Anne says:

    Jim Croce. “Operator.” Oh, da FEEEeeeelzzz. 8′-(

    Oh, and your post a short time ago about dressing well: it reminded me of reading in Florence King’s autobiography about when their maid (who had been with them since Florence was a child) died. Her father was doing the eulogy and related how the maid once told him that even though she usually bought a new dress every Easter, there was only one Easter outfit she really wanted. And what was that? he asked. And she replied: “The Gospel armor.”

    He concluded that he was completely confident that “Mrs. Custis . . . will have her armor, and she will wear it well.” Always makes me smile.

  3. Pastor Bob says:

    I like the parallel quotes, very effective.
    Since almost everyone is fooled,
    – hearing God say something – yes – no
    – rejecting what has been said – yes – no

    repeating, we have all been fooled, and we learn from those errors.

  4. Vashra Araeshkigal says:

    This has been my experience as well. There are many things I desired which I would rationalize, knowing they were sinful desires.

    Over time, one sin here, one sin there, the Lord has simply taken my burdens from me. But I have found a consistency:

    The Lord doesn’t answer my first prayer. Or my second. Or, sometimes, my 100th. As long as there is *any* shred of denial, rationalization, “justification,” or defense of my sinful desire, it remains…like a burning ember that rises up from a fire and inconveniently places itself just under your shirt collar. Stinging…begging you to twist, to scratch. ONLY when I fully embrace that “I *know* this is wrong. I’m done defending it” step have any of my sinful desires (and I have an addictive enough personality that there was a pretty long list, many of which remain) been removed from my shoulders.

    He makes us perfect in our *weakness*…when we’re utterly spent. When we’re all done trying to hide it from Him or defy Him over it, or even to try to get rid of it without Him. *That’s* when we finally call out to Him *honestly*…and then He answers faithfully, with joy that we’ve finally let Him *in*.

    Or at least that has been *my* experience.

    • Tim says:

      “I’m done defending it” – That is the way I feel whenever he has taken the desire from me. I am just plain done. Such a blessing.

  5. joepote01 says:

    So…it’s interesting that you knew what you were doing was not pleasing to God, yet you kept coming back to God in prayer.

    To me, that doesn’t sound like you falsely thought you heard the voice of God. It sounds like you knew the voice you were following was not God’s voice. You knew it was your own desire in opposition to God’s will.

    And the really cool part is that, knowing your will was in opposition to God’s, you still kept coming back, asking for His will in your life…because you really, truly, did want relationship with Him. You were hoping He would change his will to conform to yours. Instead, he changed your will to conform to His.

    I’d say this was an excellent example of Hebrews 4:14-16 at work in your life:

    “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

    Here is a post where I talk about how God works in me to conform my will to His…thru fulfilling my deepest desires:

    Excellent post, Tim! Very thought provoking.

  6. jyjames says:

    Our Father in Heaven – God’s voice, but then there’s the other god’s voice…

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