I have seen people roll their eyes, or raise their brows when during conversation I say something like, “…and the Lord told me…” I suspect that many Christians have never actually heard the Lord speak. The reason, however, is not that He hasn’t spoken to them–He has spoken and they simply do not know how to hear Him.
So here’s the questions: Do you know how God speaks and can you recognize His voice?
I have often heard Christians say that they have never heard from God. God just doesn’t speak to them, they assume. Maybe He speaks to everyone else, but they have never “heard” Him.
Now, I don’t expect God to grab a megaphone and start shouting out life’s step-by-step instructions, but He could if he wanted. Instead, God communicates to us in varying ways and, once we are clued into those, hearing from Him can actually be quite easy.
Feelings, Nothing But Feelings
One way God speaks to us is through a “feeling.” Sounds a little flaky? Well, maybe, but hear me out. There are many times in our Christian life when we will have spent time praying about something in particular. As we wait for an answer, at some point, we might catch ourselves saying something like, ” Well, I don’t have peace about this or that,” or “I feel like this,” or “It’s my heart” (this one admittedly drives me a little crazy).
We get feelings about things, one way or another. It might sound like an over simplification, but a “sense” about something can sometimes be God speaking to us.
That is not to say that we do not need guidance from the Holy Spirit to discern God’s voice. We also need confirmation from other sources to discern what we are hearing.
Which leads me to the second way in which we can hear from God–other people. Seeking out Godly wisdom from those around us can often provide clarity as to where God is leading.
Just make sure you don’t chat up the random guy at your office who has decorations of Ninja Turtles at his desk and smells like peanut butter. Ask someone who you know also hears from God… someone who can help discern God’s will in your life.
But, I Don’t Want To…
One way God often speaks to me is through my not wanting to do what I think I should. For example, I was headed out to go shopping with a friend of mine when I had a thought–call up that other girl who you really don’t care for and invite her to go shopping. Huh? Say whuuut, God?
How and why did that thought pop into my head? It wasn’t me, because I had absolutely no desire to invite the chick that irked me on a shopping date. I also know it wasn’t me because the voice was not me talking to myself. I didn’t think, for example, “I should call her.” The thought was more like, “Nicole, you need to call her.” God addressed me by name and spoke to me very much like a parent speaking to a child.
I listened to that voice that day, though. I called her up and we had a great time. Sometimes–every once in a while–God knows better than we do.
So, the lesson here is twofold. 1. God sometimes asks us to do things we don’t want to do. Remember Moses? Or Abraham? Or Jesus? Or anone else in the Bible for that matter? 2. The thought we have will often sound as if someone is addressing us or calling us by name…because Someone is.
Small Still Voices
Which might have you asking–what about those small voices (or sometimes louder voices) we hear? What about those passing thoughts, those inconspicuous ideas, those quiet notions that enter our mind from seemingly nowhere? Couldn’t those be from the Lord? Could those be God infiltrating our thoughts and making Himself known?
I have audibly heard God maybe twice. Once was to stop me from getting into a car accident. I heard a voice, not my own, say to me as clearly as a person talking right into my ear, “Do not go to Misti’s house” (if you are reading this Misti, you already know the outcome). I did not listen. Later, a car ran a red light in front of me, and I T-boned the vehicle.
Usually, however, God does not speak to us in an audible booming voices (but He certainly can if He chooses). More often, He speaks to us in the quiet whisper. Sounds like a Christian cliche right? Well, maybe it is for a reason. But, it’s also scripture.
Scripture says though that we must practice discernment. That’s right. Discernment does not just magically happen. We must discern the will of God and that comes from patience, practice, and sometimes doing what is necessary to hear from Him (Hebrews 5: 14).
Sometimes we need to escape the crowds in very much the same way Jesus did. Get out of town, climb a mountain, go off and pray. But do not forget the critical component of prayer–listening. So often we talk, making our requests known, never stopping to just shut up and listen. God is always speaking, but often we are too busy to hear.
The Not-So-Scary Stuff
Now, onto the “scary”, but not so scary stuff–prophecy and the like. God can and does speak to us through various prophetic means. Things like words of knowledge (check out the story of Jesus at the well for this one. How did Jesus know the Samaritan woman had so many husbands? Yes, He was God, but it was also a word of knowledge).
Other not-so-scary means of God speaking include prophecy, dreams, and visions. I have experienced all of these forms of God speaking at varying degrees and at different seasons of my life. I will also attest that these forms of communication from God have been the most personally rich, powerful, and transformative of any other form of communication (second only to the Bible).
If you are unsure or perhaps curious about prophecy, I challenge you to read about it. Ask questions. Ask questions of God. Pray for understanding and experiences. Listen for His response. Seek out a community where you can grow in this area. Know that God can and does use prophecy today, now. (For extra credit check out 2 Peter 1:16-21, 1Thessalonians 5:20, Luke 1:67, Acts 1:16; 11:28; 28:25, Revelation 19:10).
And if you ask nicely (and enough of you ask) I may write a separate post on how to move in the prophetic because there is a lot to say on the subject. That outta go over well, dontchathink?
Which leads me to the most obvious way in which God can communicate with us: the Bible. If ever you are looking for answers to questions, direction or guidance, wisdom or counsel–the Bible is your source. Sadly, I don’t think many Christians even seek out scripture in order to hear from God. I heard a pastor once say that “Scripture is the vocabulary of the Holy Spirit.” I like that. If you want to know the voice of the Spirt, you must know the Word.
The Lord does not intend for us to walk through our life never feeling like we can hear from Him. He is not a silent, distant God. He is a speaking, active, intimate God who desires to speak to you and share His will, love, and hope with you. Next time that small still voice enters your mind, do not be so quick to dismiss it–it may be the Lord starting a conversation with you.
Do you feel like you hear from God? How do you hear God if you do? How do you discern something is the Lord or not? Are you frustrated by not hearing from God?