The Still Small Voice

How do we hear the voice of God? This is the question I invite us to ponder today.

Recently I came across a reflection question in prayer, prompting me to bring forth to the Lord that specific grace I most desired. The answer came to me almost immediately: Your Voice, Lord. I realized that what I most longed for was to hear His Voice with clarity, speaking to me in words that I could understand.

The Still Small Voice

This hunger to hear His voice is awakened within us as we read the memorable moments of divine encounter in Scripture. Consider Elijah in today’s reading, the prophet who came to Mount Horeb in search of the Lord. He remained in the cave, waiting for the Lord to pass by, while there was first a great wind outside, then an earthquake, and thirdly a fire, yet the Lord was not in any of these spectacles. We then read that simple verse: “And after the fire, a still small voice.” Only then does Elijah come out in reverence, recognizing the Lord has come to him. It is one of those most austere but lovely moments in all of Scripture, in which an earnest soul finds God not in anything grand or magnificent, but in humble, simple silence.

Last year while I was exploring a new hiking trail in the mountains, I was given a hint of what this stillness might feel like. I reached the broad, open summit of this particular trail and found myself under the expanse of sky, surrounded by mountains on all sides, and as I stood there, I was struck with the pure, unbroken silence of that place. I had never known such profound quiet before; there was no background noise of nature, only a pure, otherworldly silence that seemed expressive in its very absence of sound. Perhaps, I said to myself, this was akin to the still small voice which Elijah heard at Horeb.

Cultivating Silence

All of this reveals to us the necessity of cultivating silence in our lives. God desires to encounter us in the silence, in quiet unassuming moments when we are able to receive Him. Many of us today have so surrounded ourselves with the noise and clutter of the modern world—and indeed, the world has made it difficult to ignore such noise—that we are unable to invite God into a space of interior silence. Distractions abound. Blaise Pascal once noted, “All the miseries of men derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”

God’s Gentleness

One might reasonably ask, why does God choose to speak to us in a “still, small voice”? Why not a majestic voice full of power? Why not a voice which overwhelms us? Put simply, He loves and respects us too much for that. God comes to us in stillness and in gentleness, so as to allow us to choose to listen to Him. Over time, we grow in sensitivity to His Presence; we learn to attune ourselves to finer stirrings of the Holy Spirit; and we come to cooperate with His grace. In this manner, we come to hear His voice in a realm beyond words.

Friends, we may not hear the Lord’s voice in distinct words, but He will make Himself known to each of us in a way we can understand, if only we cultivate the space of interior silence. Let us make room in our hearts for the “still, small voice” of the Lord. Consider this today: can you remove any particular distractions or noise from your day? Can you carve out more space in your day for silence, even if only ten minutes? Let us intentionally choose these sessions of silence rather than filling ourselves with other noises. Only then will we begin to hear the “still, small voice” of the Lord who thirsts for us.

[Readings: 1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-16; Mt 5:27-32]

Radhika Sharda, MD

Radhika Sharda is a practicing physician and a convert to the Catholic faith from a Hindu background. She has written a book of essays on literature, Savour, which may be found on Amazon. She lives in Raleigh, NC, with her three young boys.


  1. sue on June 10, 2022 at 4:46 pm

    I experience HIM when I pray outside in my yard looking at the woods and I feel HIM when I walk among the woods.

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