Many factors play a part in obstructing one’s ability to hear from the Father/Holy Spirit. The first easy clue is anything that obstructs any single area of surrender will affect hearing from God.

This STUDY will focus selectively on a few common primary categories, but this is in no way comprehensive, as there are as infinite a variety of specific obstacles, as what there are individual sins. Sinful lifestyles, power/control issues, disobedience/rebellion, pride and fear can easily be identified (and related to) as common primary categories, beneath which, of course, many specific subheadings reside.

Just as in any intimate relationship, withholding of self, one’s life, affects communication; so it also does with the Father, who desires intimacy with His sons and daughters. Unwillingness to give over, let go of, and/or share a portion of self/one’s life, creates a barrier/obstacle to intimacy and thus will affect communication; in this case, being able to hear Him.

Reciprocation is essential to any intimate relationship. One-sided communication cannot carry a healthy relationship for any length of time.  If there is a lack of sharing on the part of one member, the other member may begin to withdraw. The self which refuses to share with the other creates a sense of distrust, anxiety, insecurity, and the communication subsides; before long, communication breaks down. If minimal/no time is spent in prayer, communion, meditation on His Word, and worship, there is no input into the relationship with our heavenly Father, it is most unlikely that one will hear from Him. It is not so much the case that He withdraws from the unresponsive individual, as that He simply leaves it up to the individual to initiate and to respond to the efforts He has made to elicit a response, for He very well may have  been speaking, while the individual was simply inattentive, not present to the Lord.

In addition to distrust and insecurity in the self, and in relation to the Father, pride, disobedience and rebellion, a lifestyle of sin, whether criminal/immoral behaviour, or otherwise, will form barriers/obstacles.  Guilt will form a barrier between the individual and the Father. Following a sinful pathway is the opposite of obedience, and surrender. Anything that counters submission and obedience blocks trust and dependence on God and thus creates a barrier between the individual and the Lord. All desires, as well as behaviours that are counter to God’s wishes/will,  will form a block to surrender, thus to hearing the voice of the Lord through His Holy Spirit.

When have you run away/hid from God?

“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God” (Gen.3:8). When Adam and Eve ran away from God in the Garden of Eden, they felt guilty; “the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid” (Gen.3:9,10). When He called to them, they ran away; they didn’t want to hear Him, because they knew they had broken covenant with Him, and didn’t want to face Him. It won’t make a difference what the sinful lifestyle, behaviour, or desire is comprised of, be it sexual immorality, drug addiction, deception of some other form, the result will be the same: it will form a barrier, and one will most likely miss any message from the Lord, parallel to that which occurs in relationships between spouses/humans.

Choosing to do things our own way, without consulting our Heavenly Father is disobedience and rebellion, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king” (1 Sam.15:23). Notice that there were consequences also for this disobedience/rebellion: Saul would be ultimately ousted as King. King Saul consulted a medium (I Sam.28:7-14) because he’d stopped hearing the voice of God. (How parallel that is to the spouse who begins an extramarital affair due to lack of communication!)  “And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets” (I Sam.28:6). He’d stopped hearing the voice of the Lord because he was doing his own thing, filled with prideful self-indulgence, power, self-absorbed, and ego-driven. Rebellion and disobedience will always form a barrier between God and His people, just as it will between spouses. You see, God the Father wants an intimate relationship with His sons and daughters/children/His beloved, in the same way as one spouse does from the other. Throughout Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, we can find comparisons of God’s relationship to Israel as being that of a Husband/Wife.

Power and control issues are intrinsic to this issue, of course, as the self-sufficient, power-driven, by virtue of their acute needs for control and self-reliance, are unable to surrender those areas/things in their lives that they cannot imagine not having control over. The power-and-control person trusts only in self, thus is highly resistant to releasing that control to anyone else, even God, their Father. Power and control issues, which create barriers to trust and surrender in any relationship, form one of the most difficult blocks to hearing from the Lord, just as they interfere in human spousal relationships. Where there is a power struggle, no one is willing to give an inch to the other, and barriers form; no one listens; no one hears; no one wins.

Individuals with strongholds of power/control issues are usually in denial, oblivious to this state of being, thus often confused. They do not understand why they seem to be stuck – i.e., they say all the right things; they declare their surrender, but no progress is made. They are unable to hear from God, just a the spouse cannot hear their mate. They are stuck and unable to move forward, go deeper, or come higher/closer.  In this there is a great struggle between the head and the heart. While the mental state declares surrender, the heart is holding onto self, and holding back from God. The heart that has been injured in the past is not going to let those barriers down no matter what the mind is saying. Therein lies the insecurity, masking itself with self-sufficiency, while fraught with fear, distrust, and thus insecurity, fear of rejection, etc. Power/control issues surface in different forms, some of which are so subtle that the person involved is oblivious to them, and can thus go on indefinitely in total in denial. There are an infinite variety of inner wounds which create insecurity, in turn, embracing and fostering distrust, fear, and self-reliance, all of which create barriers in relationships, and that includes the relationship with God as Father.

Individuals driven by fear have power/control issues. They need to be in charge of their own pathway because they cannot trust anyone else, including Father God. Their lives are routine, structured, well-planned. They must always know what the game-plan is; these individuals need to have a blueprint for everything. They will demand a blueprint from God, and become angry when He doesn’t provide one, self-righteously insisting they’ve done everything right and God just is not answering them, has let them down. They are totally convinced that God is not answering them, is somehow failing/rejecting them, or letting them down, when, all the while, their defenses are preventing them from hearing the Father’s voice.


“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil”(James 4:13-16). It isn’t necessary for us to have a long-range plan, or to know the big picture when we are trusting in the Master of the universe. He will show us the way. It may be just in the knick of time, but He will advise of the next step, just in the knick of time, if only we will be patient and wait for Him; be present to Him; be still – listen:


Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He shall direct your paths.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;

Fear the Lord and depart from evil”

In this set of passages lies the secret to surrender, and to hearing from the Lord – a perfect summary. Do you see it? The trust required to surrender is the same trust that will result in one’s ability to hear from Him. And notice, it’s not an occasional or partial thing, it’s meant to be continuous, not occasional; it’s not a mere suggestion; it’s a command, a requirement; it’s with ALL the heart, ALL of the self. Do not rely on your own rational/logical thinking, analyzing, strategizing, trying to figure everything out. Instead, in/for ALL needs, surrender to and depend on HIM, not your rationale of how things should go and what you determine the outcome to be. Give it to Him and let Him decide; He will show you how to proceed. Stop thinking that you know how it should play out; stop giving Him your idea/plan and then expecting Him to bless it. Fear missing His plan, His best for you, instead of becoming impatient, and proceeding with your own plan, for this is what the “evil” is; it’s thinking that you know better than God does; it’s not having the patience to wait for His response. That is evil in God’s eyes because it is a negation of Who He is: all-knowing, all-powerful, Almighty God; and furthermore, it is rebellion, the opposite of what we’ve been instructed to do.

Fear, anxiety, insecurity, power/control needs, ego-driven self-sufficiency and self-preoccupation, sinful lifestyles, and rebellious attitudes are largely responsible for the inability to hear God’s voice.

We will hear from Him most regularly, and with greatest certainty, when we trust, obey, followsurrender each step – like Abraham. Abraham never knew where he was going; he just walked in faith, trusting in, and surrendering each step along the way, as well as the outcome to the Lord. We don’t have to know where we are going; we just need to know and trust our Guide.

© 2015 by Verna Crowther, revised 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019. All rights reserved.

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