Listen for His Whisper - Bob Sawvelle - Young man praying to God during sunset by the sea

Listen for His Whisper

Our human nature desires clarity, especially when it comes to hearing God’s voice. After all, who wants to “miss God” when there is a major decision or transition in life? As a result, most of us desire to hear God “loudly” and with certainty, especially when we are stressed or discouraged.

But the Spirit often speaks softly, faintly. Learning to hear God’s directives in the “whispers of the Spirit” is essential to knowing your assignment and next steps. By the way, it’s the friends of God, those who are close to Jesus, who learn to hear His still small voice clearly.

Sometimes the greatest directives are discovered in the whispers of God!

The Lord gave me a word recently from 1 Kings 19, reminding me of the importance of listening for His still small voice. The Lord simply said to me,

“I’m not in the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire, but I am coming to my people in a still small voice in this new season!”

You may recall the story of the prophet Elijah who confronted King Ahab and Queen Jezebel and their pagan prophets. These leaders led the nation of Israel astray from serving Yahweh, so God raised up the prophet Elijah to turn a nation back to him.

After a three-year drought, there was a powerful confrontation on Mt. Carmel between the false prophets and God’s prophet Elijah. God sent fire from heaven to consume Elijah’s water-soaked sacrifice, to the shock and horror of the false prophets. The people of Israel witnessed the raw power of God—and God was speaking loudly, “turn back to me, Israel!” The people began to repent and commit to serving God once again. A great spiritual victory took place for God’s people, and for the prophet Elijah.

However, Jezebel soon heard the news and threatened to kill Elijah. He fled to the wilderness—tired, discouraged, and with little hope. In fact, he was so depressed he prayed to die, “… It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1 Kings 19:4 NKJV) Yes, the great prophet Elijah succumbed to what we all face in our humanity when we take our eyes off God and his promises.

Elijah was Discouraged, Disillusioned and Depressed. His worry and fear for his life empowered the 3 D’s!

The writer of Proverbs 12:25 linked worry and depression:

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” NKJV

Jezebel’s threats terrified Elijah. His worry and fear led to stress which gave way to discouragement, disillusionment and depression. Sometimes after our spiritual breakthroughs and victories we are the most prone to the 3 D’s—but there is hope!

God, in His love and compassion, sent an angel to feed and minister to Elijah (see 1 Kings 19:5-8). Elijah ate, and traveled for 40 days and nights to Mt. Horeb, the mountain of God. There is a supernatural element to the food and rest Elijah received from the angel. But when people struggle with the 3 D’s, practical things can be done to recharge spiritually, such as: getting proper rest, nutrition, exercise, etc. Be mindful of these things!

But it’s not until Elijah hears God’s still small voice that he is fully renewed!

Look at what happens next in 1 Kings:

And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 

So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:9-11 NKJV)

Elijah had an angelic visitation—imagine what that must have been like! But God intended for the encounter to bring Elijah into a new assignment. Sure, God could have spoken through the angel to reveal Elijah’s next steps, but God chose to communicate directly to Elijah to renew and recommission His prophet. For that, Elijah would have to hear what God was revealing through a quiet voice.

Encounters invite us to go deeper in God, to know His heart and ways. However, greater revelation often comes as a faint whisper!

As Elijah stands at the mountain of God, God Himself passes by. This results in a great wind tearing into the mountain, followed by an earthquake, and then a fire, but God’s voice and strategy for Elijah isn’t discovered in these supernatural signs.

Many who would have heard and saw these signs might have assumed what God was communicating. Sure, they pointed to the majesty and greatness of God, but God wanted to go deeper with Elijah, and I believe God wants to go deeper with us in this hour by hearing His “delicate whispering voice.”

By the way, don’t make the mistake of assuming what God is communicating through natural events. Recently grasshoppers “invaded” the city of Las Vegas in Nevada. When I heard this, I said, “Well, I’m sure there are some on the internet who are saying, “This is a sign of coming judgment!”” Indeed, I searched the internet for two minutes and found those who are saying just that—this is a sign of judgement coming to America!

Church, we are in the age of grace. God desires to reconcile the world to Himself (see 1 Cor. 5; John 3:16). There is a future judgement, but it is reserved until after the return of Christ. Until then, we need to reveal to the world know how wonderful Jesus is and how He took upon Himself the judgment we each deserve!

Ask God for revelation; you only know the truth when you hear from Jesus!

Now back to our story with Elijah. The angel appears and tells Elijah to eat, “because the journey is too great for you.” (1 Kings 19:7). Notice Elijah isn’t directed to go to Horeb, the Mountain of God. Yet, he travels 40 days and nights to get to Horeb.

Once there, God asks him twice, “…What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9, 13) After God asks him this question the first time, God gives him the night to sleep on it before asking him this again. The English word here is from the Hebrew word pō(h) and one of its meanings is “a spatial position which is relatively near the speaker” [1]

What was Elijah doing? Was he simply fleeing for his life?

Yes, he was afraid Jezebel and her minions would kill him. But Elijah also wanted to get close to God, to “hear” what God had to say—which is why he went to Horeb, the Mountain of God. Additionally, the passage indicates that Elijah was frustrated: “I have been very zealous… I alone am left.” I believe Elijah wanted a fresh word from God, but he wanted to first complain to God.

Have you ever complained to God? Maybe like Elijah, “God, I alone …” Be careful of self-righteousness; it’s rooted in pride and hinders you from faithfully serving God and hearing His voice. Be careful of being offended with God! Trust Him and stay close to Him.

Jeremiah declared to wayward Judah the faithfulness of God,

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jer. 29:13 NKJV

Notice the phrase “all your heart?” Seek God with an undivided heart, a heart tender to the Lord and others. Don’t allow criticalness, offense, or the 3 D’s to “divide your heart” toward God or others!

Understand that to fulfill your dreams and destiny in God, you must know Him intimately and be able to discern His voice—even when it is faint—clearly.

Supernatural signs reveal aspects of God and His presence, but to know His heart and directives for your life, you must learn to hear His delicate whispering voice.

Often, many are looking only for the signs or encounter instead of leaning into God to hear His still small voice.

Jesus our shepherd, makes this clear, if you are born again, “My sheep hear My voice…”  (John 10:27 NKJV) He wants us to know His voice and follow Him.

There is no formula to hearing the voice of God—I can give you principles, but each of us will hear God and communicate with Him slightly differently. Learning how to recognize the “language of the Spirit” is vital—Bible, thoughts, words, impressions, vision and encounters—all comprise the language of the Spirit. Next week, I’ll discuss hearing the voice of God and practical steps you can take to position yourself to hear Him more clearly.

In our story with Elijah, God in His love and compassion for this faith prophet commissions him with new assignments. Elijah isn’t done yet; he has some distance to go and purpose to complete. From that moment on, Elijah is renewed, empowered, and faithful to God’s call and assignment. He finishes his race well and is escorted to heaven in a flaming chariot—well done Elijah!

I believe the Lord is telling many of us in this season to resist falling into discouragement, disillusion, and depression because of the threats and schemes of the enemy.

Rather, remind yourself of the great things God has done—starting with the resurrection of Jesus and miracles He has worked in your life and for others. God is about to renew your life with vitality and strength as you wait on Him (See Isaiah 40:31). As you hear His voice, fresh vision and confidence to complete your assignment are coming! You will begin to pray with new confidence and assurance the answers are on the way.

Corporately, many in the church have been in a place of discouragement due to the oppression of the enemy in the past season. But I believe God has a message for us through Elijah’s story.

God wants us to come out of the cave and awaken to His voice and His calling with confidence! What has been the status quo for the church is changing. The church is the very life and body of Jesus; therefore, she is glorious, radiant, and destined to impact our generation. She is about to radically change as God’s voice and presence is heard and acted upon in this season. God is about to renew and revive His church once again to finish her race well!



[1]James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament)(Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).


For a more in-depth look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message, “Listen for His Whisper”:

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