Hearing God’s Voice 101

32890-150x150I wish that I could give you a syllabus, prepare lectures, and let you complete a test so that you could drink it in—it being the ability to hear God’s voice. But it’s not that easy. Sometimes God invites us, like he invited Moses, into the “thick darkness” and communicates with us there. That’s what this is all about—going into the darkness and meeting God there. But before we head to those dark places, let’s lay down some general rules about how God communicates with us.

God Usually Does Not Communicate With Us Audibly

First, God most often does not communicate with us audibly. I know, it seems a bit odd that he would give us ears—two, in fact—and expect us to use them to listen to one another when we communicate and then choose not to put those ears to use when he communicates with us. I don’t know why he does this, but he does. I haven’t heard the voice of God with my ears … yet. I am open to that, but God hasn’t chosen to speak to me in that way.

God Communicates With Us Through His Word

Second, God most often communicates with us through his word, the Bible. Because God most often communicates through his word, you need to read it. It doesn’t matter how living and active God’s word might be—if you don’t take time to read the Bible, you won’t benefit from the power of it. When you read the Bible, it is good to read for information and to learn more about God—but also to read for inspiration and to experience more of God.

What is the difference? When you read for information, you might read the Bible much like you would a history book, taking note of dates and names, places and time periods. It is good to understand the cultures that set the context for the biblical writers. As you read for information, you grow in your understanding of God’s character and his ways. This helps you to discern his voice when he speaks to you.

When you read the Bible for inspiration, you approach a particular passage of Scripture with this prayer on your lips: “Lord, I need to hear a word from you today. Please, speak to me through your Word; help me to hear and to understand what you are saying to me.” When you make a habit of reading God’s word on a daily basis, and you pray that prayer, you will experience the power of God’s word. The words you read will jump off the pages of the book into your heart and mind. Then you will say, “God spoke this to me in his word today ….”

You Must Read the Bible in Order to Hear God Speak

Because God most often communicates through his word, you need to read it. It doesn’t matter how living and active God’s word might be; if you don’t take time to read the Bible, you won’t benefit from the power of it. When you read the Bible, it is good to read for information, to learn more about God—but also to read for inspiration, to experience more of God.

What is the difference? When you read for information, you might read the Bible much like you would a history book, taking note of dates and names, places and time periods. It is good to understand the cultures that set the context for the biblical writers. As you read for information, you grow in your understanding of God’s character and his ways. This helps you to discern his voice when he speaks to you.

When you read the Bible for inspiration, approach a particular passage of Scripture with this prayer on your lips: “Lord, I need to hear a word from you today. Please, speak to me through your word; help me to hear and to understand what you are saying to me.” When you make a habit of reading God’s word on a daily basis, and you pray that prayer, you will experience the power of God’s word. The words you read will jump off the pages of the book into your heart and mind. Then you’ll be able to say, “God spoke this to me in his word today ….”

Obey God’s Word If You Want to Hear His Voice

Fourth, you must be willing to obey God’s instructions (as presented in his Word) in order to hear his voice. God tells you what to do, and then he waits patiently for your obedience before he says anything else. Many people suffer the silence of God because they refuse to respond to the prompting of his Spirit. There is a whole lot of mystery surrounding the activity of the Holy Spirit, but don’t be confused by him. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each aspect of his person reaches into our lives to draw us into a personal relationship with Him. God the Father sent his son to provide us with this relationship. The Holy Spirit comes to live in us when we enter into a relationship with God. It is the Holy Spirit who speaks to us when we read God’s word. The Holy Spirit guides us into truth.

God Communicates With Us Through Other People

God also communicates with us through other believers. When Jesus came to walk on earth, he chose 12 men to be his disciples. Those men walked and talked and lived with Jesus for three years. Through that experience, 11 of them started a movement that continues to impact the world today. Through those men Jesus built the church. Right after Jesus ascended into heaven, his followers stood there staring into the sky. When they got back to Jerusalem, they gathered together in a room to pray. Can you imagine what it might have been like to be in that room? Acts 1:15 tells us that there were about 120 men and women present at the prayer meeting.

I don’t know how long the disciples prayed, but Peter stood up among them and spoke to them. He led the people to choose a replacement for Judas the traitor (Matthias was the one they chose). God spoke to His disciples through Peter. Ever since that day God has chosen men and women to speak his word. Our pastors do this every Sunday when they stand in their pulpits and discuss God’s word. We do this with one another when we share a verse or a word of encouragement with a friend.

I’ve often been impressed with God’s method of repeating himself when he speaks through others. I will read something in my quiet time and know that it is a “word” for me. How will I know?

Allow me to explain. Let’s say my heart is heavy because my daughter is unhappy at college. I’ll be reading the Psalms and come across Psalm 37:3-4:

“Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”

I smile when I read that because I know my daughter is walking with God. She reads her Bible, prays, and seeks godly companions to encourage her along the way. I know that she’s trusting God and “doing good,” and I am, therefore, confident God will give her the desires of her heart. I pray for her, and, if I’m really a good mom, I’ll jot a note to her and put it in the mail. Later that same day I might be listening to the radio when a recording artist will share how God used Psalm 37:4 in his life during a difficult season. I’ll smile to myself as I drive north on the highway, knowing God is speaking to me. Then at lunch I’ll be talking to a friend about what’s going on in her life, and she might mention Psalm 37:4 again.

Has that ever happened to you? When it does, you will know that you are hearing God’s voice!

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