Have I really heard God’s voice? Does He still speak in our generation? If so, what does His voice sound like? How do we discern God’s voice from our own thoughts? These are questions many Christians wonder about. We can read throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelations where God speaks to His people. He spoke to Adam in the garden, to Abraham in his old age, Joseph through his dreams, Moses through the burning bush, Elijah in a gentle voice, Mary through an angel and John through visions. These are only a small number of incidents recorded in the Bible where God communicated to His people. If God was so talkative in the Bible, who’s to say He doesn’t speak in the 21st century? When we read incidents of when God spoke to the saints of old, He had one core message He aimed to get across: The revealing of His plan in order for His purpose to be accomplished in the earth. God always directs mankind in the direction of holy living with a heart completely devoted to His own. This is still God’s objective for mankind. As the world gets more difficult to live in for Christians, with our society devaluing our Christian values, it is even more important than ever that we are listening to the voice of God.
Foundation of Hearing His voice
So you want to know how to hear the voice of God? Well you must first have a good foundation: God’s Spirit must live inside you. In our day and age, this is God’s communication line to His people. Revelations 2:29 puts it this way: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. It is obvious from this scripture that God wants to speak to His church even today. Through this passage we read that “he who has an ear, let him hear.” It is not talking about physical ears, but rather spiritual ears. It is when our spirit (heart) intercepts what God’s Spirit is speaking. We cannot do this unless our spirit has been awakened by salvation in Jesus Christ.
In my own personal life, there have been many times that I “thought” God was speaking to me, but later learned it was just my own inner thoughts. I wasn’t quick to admit that I had missed God, but in order to really discern the voice of God from my own thoughts, I had to get honest with myself.
Several months ago I had been praying about my husband’s job. He wasn’t sure whether he would be laid off. I asked God to tell me what was going to happen and I wanted specifics; I left that prayer encounter with an answer. I was so excited! I had heard from God…at least I thought so. I told my husband that he would not be let go, but around March of the next year there would be another lay off that he would probably be involved in. I was pretty sure God revealed this to me during prayer that day. As the weeks went by, he in fact did not get laid off. I thought I must have pretty good spiritual radar since that came to pass. Now I had to wait until March, just 3 short months later to watch for the second lay off. Well March came and went without another lay off. Maybe my radar wasn’t so sharp after all. What happened? I thought God had clearly spoken to me; I was sure of it….well, at least somewhat sure.
I could tell you several stories like this where I thought God had spoke to me, but in reality it was only my own thoughts. If we were all honest, we could all tell several stories similar to this one. I have often wondered how sometimes we can get it right but other times miss it by a long shot. It’s through the “missing” times that we learn to sharpen our spiritual ears. Just because we miss it, does not mean we never hear God’s voice; it just means we are learning to discern His voice from our own invading thoughts.
How to Know when God is Speaking
Here are a few secrets I have learned, since then, that I will put into points concerning knowing God’s voice from your own. We must learn to rightly divide the two.
- God speaks directly to our spirit and not to our heads
One morning, I woke up with a portion of scripture welling up from inside me. I was not yet fully awake, and had no time to even think before the Holy Spirit spoke to the ears of my spirit, “for it is the wellspring of life.” I knew immediately it was from God, but wasn’t sure the meaning. Determined to find out what it meant, I quickly turned to my Bible’s concordance to look up key words. To my surprise, I found the following scripture in Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. I was so excited to find this scripture and as the weeks and months went by, God kept speaking this over and over to my heart. It was a truth that God wanted to establish in my heart. My point in telling you this is that this scripture did not come from my thinking (my mind). Instead it came from God’s Spirit speaking to my spirit about a particular area of my life. It was spontaneous and flowed from my heart. This was the first lesson God taught me in discerning His voice.
- What He speaks always lines up with scripture.
In order for the Spirit to speak to us, we must have the word of God inside us. Have you ever faced a difficult situation that you became distraught over and didn’t know what to do, but then you are reminded of a scripture you had read previously? That is the Spirit speaking to you. He is reminding you of God’s word. We read in John 14:26 where Jesus addresses his disciples and states that when the Spirit comes He will remind them of everything He had already spoken to them. The Spirit is in unity with the Word of God and will never direct you to do something opposed from Christ’s word or nature.
If we ever think God has asked us to do or say something, always ask yourself: Does this line up with scripture? If it does not, then these are your own thoughts speaking to you.
• Seek Him with your whole heart
There are so many distractions around us television, movies, music, relationships to name a few that we tend to put God on the back burner. If we want to hear His voice clearly, we must remove these distractions from our lives. Distractions will muffle God’s voice in your heart or stop it up altogether.
- Wait and Trust
The last key to hearing from God is waiting. So often we get impatient and want to take matters into our own hands, but over and over in the Bible we read “Wait patiently on the Lord.” If you believe God has truly spoken to you, wait it out and see what happens. I have learned that anytime that I have rushed something, I “ALWAYS” miss God. God is not in a hurry; instead, He is patient. Satan will quicken our pace in order for us to miss what God is teaching and doing in us. Abraham was told at the age of 75 by God that He was going to make a great nation form his seed, but it was until 25 years later that the promise was born.
As Christians it is imperative that we seek to hear what the Spirit is saying to us today. It may be for a family crisis, what direction you should take in your life or simply wanting to please God in your choices. Regardless of the reason, God’s purpose in speaking back to you is to direct your path closer in the direction that leads closer to Him.