When God Whispers

1 Kings 19:11–13 (NIV)

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”



Up to this point in biblical history, the God of heaven and earth does not have a reputation for whispering. The Mt. Sinai tradition with Moses and the Ten Commandments was anything but a whispering session. There was fire and wind and a quaking earth. There was the incredible blast of the trumpet and the sound of the commandments of God etching into the tablets of stone.

This whole scene with Elijah on Mt. Sinai carries the essence of Moses time on Mt. Sinai. It is all there with the fire and wind and an earthquake. This time there is a new feature. God whispers. Do we have any other biblical evidence of God whispering? God never whispers, right?

Here’s my question. What if God is always whispering? What if we are just not attuned to hear the whispering voice? Could it be this entire journey of struggle, hardship, disorientation and despair was all about getting Elijah to the place where he could hear the whisper of God?

Whispering is a quite unique and unusual form of speech. When is the last time you remember whispering? Try whispering now. To whisper is to speak words without any voice—only breath.

Is not the Word of God itself, the Spirit-filled whispered breath of God to those who would write it down? Here is apostle Peter’s way of saying it:

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21)

The Word of God is the whispering of the Holy Spirit.

The other thing about whispering is you have to be close to pick it up. To whisper is not necessarily to tell secrets but it is to speak secretively. The most fascinating aspect of today’s text to me is we are not told what God whispered to Elijah. Look twice:

And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

We know what the voice said to him after the gentle whisper, but we don’t know what was whispered. Only Elijah knows. Isn’t that glorious? This is the way. It took three years of being hard pressed on every side, perplexing conundrums, punishing persecution, and being repeatedly struck down. Perhaps it is one of the secret gifts of this suffering way of the cross of glory—becoming attuned to the whispering voice of God. Getting close enough to hear his breath formed into words—just for you.

I used to think God didn’t speak to me very often or maybe he didn’t have much to say to me. I have learned over the years I am rarely close enough, still enough, and attuned enough to pick up the whisper. Here’s what I’m learning as I am entering the season of becoming an elder. God is always whispering—always. It is my highest calling to draw near and listen. I would say it is your calling too.

This is the way—from glory to glory. 


Breathe on me, Breath of God, 
fill me with life anew, 
that I may love the way you love, 
and do what you would do. 

Breathe on me, Breath of God, 
until my heart is pure, 
until my will is one with yours, 
to do and to endure. 

Breathe on me, Breath of God, 
so shall I never die, 
but live with you the perfect life 
for all eternity. 

—Hymn lyrics by Edwin Hatch 1878


I challenge you to get into a whispering conversation with someone today—as an experiment. And then to invite the Holy Spirit to train you to hear the whisper of God. Write down what you hear. 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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Comments and Discussion

4 Responses

  1. JD, I love that with all that happens in those scriptures, God’s quiet whisper was the focus.
    Matthew 11:15
    He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
    Everyone has ears, but not everyone hears.
    As I’ve learned to love God, as I aspire to submit to Him, resist the evil one, and draw closer to Him, I find He whispers directly into my mind. At first, His whispers were conscience’s nudges. Now I hear His voice in my soul.
    The flippers on the side of my head aren’t necessary to hear God’s whispers.
    I’m hearing with the ears of my heart.
    When I decide to listen.
    If I decide to do.
    It shouldn’t be an option whether I listen, whether I do.
    I’m learning that it’s always for my benefit and His glory when I listen and do.
    Why don’t I?
    Dang, sinful nature of me.
    Yesterday I gave away my favorite Bible. Marked up, highlighted, notes over the years, favorite Bible. Why? God told me to.
    He tried to give it back. I said I couldn’t take it back. God told me to give it to you and I don’t have the choice to take it back.
    He cried.
    Thank you,
    May I keep learning until it’s in my spirit’s core that the only decision I have to Your whispers is to say, “YES!”

  2. When you tune in to God’s whispers, His breath (His Spirit) will tune up your heart to hunger and thirst for His presence and His will. The problem isn’t that God isn’t whispering, but that we’re not quietly focusing and intently listening. When we train ourselves to notice God’s whispers, the inner promtings of His living world will transform us from the inside out.

    I posted the following on Facebook before I went to bed last night:

    A Christian who doesn’t daily train to follow & obey the living Jesus is like an athlete who doesn’t train — very ineffective. Athletes practice & train. The Bible says that Christians need to, too (1 Corinthians 9:25). Get training! Train yourself to stay intently & continually focused on the risen Jesus.

  3. I also hear God’s whisper He speaks to my chest area. It is learning to hear and obey that I still find difficult. JD i love your prayer today. I work hard at loving like Jesus loves.

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