If we could only hear what God wants us to do all the time, life would be easier! When we follow Jesus, we want to hear God! Do you get frustrated when you don’t hear God? So, how can we hear God?
First Things First
First, we must believe that God still wants to be heard! Jesus told us he would be with us until the end of time (Matthew 28:20). It is unimaginable that Jesus would be with us in silence all the time. So he must be speaking. He also told us that when he speaks, he speaks the words the Father gives him. If we can hear Jesus we can hear our heavenly Father!
Second, we must believe that what he has to say is relevant to our lives today — literally, today! Wherever we find ourselves today, we must believe that Jesus is guiding us and has insights into what we should do in whatever situation we are in.
How does God speak?
We cannot hear God unless we recognize how he speaks. Here are some ways we can expect to hear the voice of God:
Through reading the Bible. We often call the Bible the Word of God. We could say that the Bible records the words of God. It is his voice speaking through his Word! Every time you read the Bible, you read the words that God has spoken. When you read, you may hear God prompting you in many different ways. He may encourage, correct, instruct, rebuke, direct, comfort, strengthen, or whatever else he wants to communicate to you. It’s good to ask God to help you hear his voice as you read your Bible. This leads us to the next way God speaks to us.
Through prayer. When we pray, we are in conversation with God. Normally, we don’t stop to listen but if we do, we could hear his voice. Sometimes God has even interrupted my prayer to make known his will!
Through strong impressions. God will impress us to do something, or say something or go somewhere. It feels like the right thing to do and it is inescapable.
Through an audible or nearly audible voice. This rarely happens but sometimes we hear what God wants us to do in a voice that is real. It’s far more than an impression and it is clearly the voice of God. This voice will tell you to do something that you could never have dreamed up on your own.
Through the voice of another follower of Jesus. Especially when we read God’s word together, God will speak to us through another to guide us into his will for our lives. We must pay attention to these voices very carefully.
That brings us to the big question: How do I hear God?
Identifying the ways God speaks helps us immensely to understand his voice when we hear it. Here is how you can hear God.
Spend time in the Bible. God speaks through his word. Be sensitive to scriptures that leap out at you. Many years ago, when I was in the Navy, I was leading our ship’s Sunday services. I wasn’t a chaplain but felt this was my ministry. On Sunday morning, we would meet in the classroom. One Sunday, no one showed up! I was discouraged, so I went back to my bunk, opened my Bible and started to read. I was startled when I came upon this passage after just a few minutes: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do no give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
A few weeks later, it was Easter Sunday. For that day, the ship provided the entire helicopter flight deck for our Sunday service. That day, 20% of the ship showed up for services. CNN recorded the service and beamed the footage back to Atlanta for the morning news. The Sundays that followed had double our normal attendance each week!
God will speak through his word!
Pause in your prayer. Take time to listen. When you pray ask God questions and then wait for an answer. The most profound answers have come to me in my prayer time when I would pause to listen. Cultivate the habit of asking God questions as you pray — then wait for a response.
Respond to the impressions. A woman in my church told me this story. She was writing to her son who was at Marine Boot Camp. One day, she had a strong impression that she should write a note to everyone in his unit. It seemed strange to her so she tried to push it aside and write only to her son but she could not get away from it. So she was obedient and wrote to all 80 marines in his outfit.
Spend time with people in reading the word. This is why it is good to sit together and read and study the Bible. God’s Word has a single meaning but an almost infinite number of applications. For example, the command to love your neighbor as yourself is clear. The expression of that love, however, can be done in many ways and this is when you will often hear God speak to you. Many times he will speak through another who has a similar understanding of what they must do to express that love.
Be patient. As we hear God’s voice, we will get better at discerning his voice. Like learning to walk or talk, it takes time and practice and persistence.
Be careful. God will never have you do something that is contrary to his expressed will. In other words, if you have an impression to do something, it cannot violate the Word of God. For example, God will not tell you to commit adultery or any act of immorality. He will not condone dishonesty, slander or gossip.
How has God spoken to you today? Has he spoken through this blog post? If so, please leave a comment!
If this has helped you, please pass it along to one or two others to help them, too.