Knowing that God wants to speak to me, and even wanting Him to speak are not enough. I must also learn how to hear His voice, because He usually communicates with His children in a spiritual voice rather than through the five senses. When we are born-again He empowers us to hear with new ears and see with new eyes, but we soon discover there are other voices, even spiritual ones, trying to influence us. So hearing Gods voice requires not only the right attitude, but also understanding and skill. As with most matters, we first need to be taught and then we need to practice what weve learned. Of course, this includes making mistakes until hearing from heaven becomes a normal part of life. Today we will examine several ways God speaks to His people. Then we will reflect on some of the difficulties that commonly arise when people try to listen to the Spirits inner voice. Finally, we will list some steps a person could take to help them get started.
A. How does God speak to His people?
Universal principles of the Bible apply to all of us all the time. You cannot move forward in hearing Gods voice or in speaking prophetically without knowing the Bible. Your own opinions and inclinations will mislead you (Is 55:8, 9; Pr 3:5, 6). A major way God speaks is through the Holy Spirit who draws my attention to certain passages of Scripture and shows me how they apply to me.
Gifts spoken through others in the Body of Christ (knowingly or unknowingly) (1Co 12:8-10; Eph 4:11).
Individuals bringing a word to me (needs to be confirmed)
Quickening of the preached Word; the Spirit alerts me that Hes speaking to me
3. Inner voice
Verbal: a soundless voice
Visual: a Spirit-placed day dream
Visceral: feel the presence or heart of God (power/love)
Verseral: the Holy Spirit reminds me of verses of Scripture or biblical events
4. Human leaders
I only do what God tells me to do. God leads through those He places as leaders.
5. The Yielded Vessel
Some people cannot hear from God because they have not inclined their ears to anyone else they consider of lower stature.
Objects or events in nature are used by the Spirit as a parable.
B. Difficulties which arise with the inner voice
1. Discerning the source: Was that from God, Satan, or me? Confirmation (2 or 3): Let Him say it again. Biblical evaluation: Evaluate the content. Does it reflect the heart of God (Lk 9:51-56)? Trusted elders: Does this sound like God?
2. Retention: Remembering clearly what was said. Journal, write it down, date it.
3. Spiritual health: I may need inner healing to quiet the unhealthy pressures that try to dominate my thinking: fear, anger, shame, lust, ambition, greed.
4. False theological beliefs: God doesnt speak anymore.
5. Desire for indisputable certainty
Hand writing on the wall
Unwilling to walk in faith (want 100% certainty)
6. Unwilling to make a mistake
God will be angry at me
People will lose their respect for me
7. Too proud to admit I missed it
Ego: Im never wrong
Fear: How can I be sure I wont miss it the next time if I was wrong this time?
C. Where do I start?
Sooner or later those who earnestly pursue the voice of God discover ways of listening that work best for them. However, when a person is starting out, its helpful to have some suggested steps to follow.
1. Develop a regular time (and place) to meet with God. Mornings are preferable. Fasting helps.
2. Read the Bible until something speaks to your heart and heaviness lifts.
3. Write down your requests (Php 4:6).
4. Deal with your own attitude until you are genuinely willing to do whatever He says.
5. Listen to your heart. Do you have an intuitive sense of Gods will in this matter?
6. Write down your impression of His will. The more we have a personal interest in a matter, the harder it is to hear because we question our motives and wonder if we generate the thoughts that came.
7. Ask Him to confirm or correct. Next time I read my journal does it still seem right? Share with a trusted elder. Review Scripture. Does it reflect the heart of God? Circumstantial confirmation. Are the doors open for me to take this step?
Beware of random thoughts in a passive mind. Keep your mind engaged, dont go blank.
Beware of violent images that produce fear.
Beware of anxious voices that impatiently demand you act now.
Beware of trying to peer into the future.
Beware of talking to others about Gods will until it has been confirmed. Even then some things should be kept private and walked out rather than talked about.
Beware of taking Gods silence as a mandate to take matters in your own hands. If He says nothing, do nothing.
8. When reasonably confident, step out, but remain humble. Lord, I think this is your will so Im going to step out in obedience. If, however, Im wrong, correct me and Ill happily adjust. Only by stepping out and acting on what you believe youve heard will you discover whether or not you did hear from God. Successfully hearing increases your faith for the next time. Dont assume you missed Gods will just because you find yourself in a tougher situation than you expected.
1. With a little reflection most of us can think of times when God spoke to us but we didnt obey. If its not too embarrassing, share an example from your life and then tell us what you learned from the experience.
2. How do you usually hear Gods voice? (verbal, visual, visceral, verseral)
3. What steps do you take when you really need to hear from God?