Do you long to hear God’s voice? Do you listen to someone saying “God told me…” and wish that he would tell you something too?
Today we are looking to find out how we can hear God’s voice. The idea of hearing God’s voice keeps many of us searching for answers. It may seem like something really weird! But Scripture demonstrates clearly how much God enjoys a conversation with his people. So may the Lord help us to better hear his voice and understand when we hear it.
Recognize that God Created You for a Close Friendship with Himself (aka Why He might speak to little ol’ me)
By design, God hears us best through our friendship. God will help you to determine His will easily through conversations with Him. God wants to meet you at every step of your life journey and communicate directly with you. He wants to talk with you – isn’t that amazing?
But all this takes some work on your end. You’ll need to talk to him. You’ll need to spend time with Him. If you don’t have the sort of relationship with God that would equal friendship, you’ll need to develop it. The following will help you work at creating this friendship so that you can hear God.
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Worship Him Sincerely and Often
God wants you. A true Father, he is eager to talk with you continuously. So great is his desire for communication that he gave you his gift, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit can bring you back to God even if you’ve not been so close recently. You can hear his words, and live his love if you just listen. Remember the Bible tells us about the Holy Spirit:
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. – John 16:13, ESV
To connect with God or the Holy Spirit, simply begin to worship. Look at one of the verses below if you need guidance in getting started; sing a worship song if that’s what speaks to your soul.
Scriptures to Help you Worship
O Lord, you are my God;Isaiah 25:1
I will exalt you; I will praise your name,
for you have done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
3 Praise him with trumpet sound;Psalm 150
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,Psalm 103
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;1 Chronicles 16:32-34
let the field exult, and everything in it!
33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
34 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Consider your Motives for Wanting to Hear from God
Think of the real reasons why you are interested in hearing God’s voice. Are you motivated just for personal or selfish reasons? Before you can hear the voice of God, put aside your selfish desires, your motives, and even stop trying to second-guess what he might say. Come humbly before him with no expectation at all. If needed, confess all wrongs and repent before you do this.
Listen carefully without trying to jump ahead. remember, God is omniscient (knows all things). So He already knows the answer you are seeking. He knows you want to hear from Him. He’s waiting for you to approach him:
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. – Jeremiah 33:3
And the more we approach him, the more we will begin to hear God’s voice in our lives. He wants us to pursue him, and to offer respect and reverence, then He will speak to us.
Proverbs 8:17 says, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” Seek Him out. Make time for Him daily.
Although it is essential to listen to God, this is not our end goal. Rather, focus on becoming spiritually mature and close to God. Getting Him to speak to you only works if you know His true nature and purpose – part of which, as we already said, is to have companionship with you.
God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit
In the Old Testament we most often see God talking to people from the outside. An external voice, a spontaneous fire, a sign. These are the things he used to communicate with people. They heard the voice of God sometimes, but more often they saw a physical sign.
But in the New Testament, Jesus said he was going to give His disciples more than they had expected. On the day that the Lord was arrested before his Crucifixion, He had a serious talk with his friends. He knew he was leaving, and although His disciples were walking daily with him for many days they wouldn’t hear or see Him any longer. So Jesus told them about the Holy Spirit, whom God would soon send to them. He spoke in a somewhat cryptic manner in John 16:7-11:
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
The Disciples were so focused on his other messages about leaving that they probably didn’t pay too much attention to the thought of who the “helper” might be or what his role would become. They soon discovered what all Christians know, that hearing the Holy Spirit is a way of listening to God, of having a relationship with God.
Recognize that God Communicates in Many Forms but Most Often Through your Mind
God has many ways to communicate with you depending on your circumstances. Sometimes the message is given by an angel, via a vision, or through a miracle of some sort. But more often the Holy Spirit takes over by speaking to us through our thoughts.
The Lord uses simple practices like studying Scripture and prayer to help you in your thought process. He will use dramatic means when necessary to attract your attention; His aim is to have you closer to Him so you can be attentive when he is talking to you.
His message to you is this: Nothing satisfies the longing in your soul for God, other than a relationship with Him. Not money, sex, drugs, or relationships.
His spirit manifests only thoughts in our heads that will line up with what the Bible says. If it doesn’t line up with the Word of God- it isn’t from God.
Renew your Mind
While God speaks to our minds frequently, a person should work at developing a “mind of Christ” which some call the “mind of the Mind” (mind that makes choices that he wants). As the Holy Spirit renews your thoughts every day, He cleanses the brain of dirt and clutter such as wrong beliefs or attitudes and unhealthy emotions. All of these are slowly replaced by true thinking, based upon the purpose of the Lord Jesus.
A “natural” or unsaved person cannot hear His voice. They can’t recognize Jesus or think blessed thoughts. Hearing from God is for the saved. Only those who are saved can rest knowing he will speak to them.
Pursuing God is Essential to Hearing God
I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me. Proverbs 8:17
Without faith it’s impossible to please God. Hebrew 11:6
The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. Psalm 14:2.
Invite the Living Word to Help You When you Read the Written Word
Jesus, the living Word, has been a strong creative force that actively affects you when praying God’s words in the Bible. Ask Jesus to bring life into your Bible reading time and make it a conduit to send His thoughts, faith, and love to you. Then focus and direct yourself toward following His message so that your life will change.
You may argue that the voice of Jesus is not the same as hearing God speaking, but in fact it works as a substitute. If you believe in the Holy Trinity “3 in 1”, hearing from the Son is equivalent with hearing God speaking.
Besides, Jesus said we are his sheep and “my sheep know my voice.”
Different ways God speaks in the Bible
The Lord speaks clearly to those of us who believe. Sometimes he speaks through our thoughts. We here at BSP believe God still speaks to us audibly today. In the Bible, Jesus spoke a few times in a loud voice that literally echoed the words he said.
“Then Jesus spoke with a loud voice as He taught in the house of God.” John 7:28
Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!” John 11:43
“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!'” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. Mark 4:39
Different Ways He Speaks to Us Now
One other means by which God speaks to His people is through miraculous acts like dreams or visions. In biblical days, signs appeared in numerous ways, from the separation from the Red Sea to finding a donkey colt exactly when and wherever Jesus told the disciples (Matthew 2:2).
In Scripture, God will sometimes “speak” to us by guiding us to a particular passage. Have you ever wondered why you feel drawn to a certain verse? It is important to ask God, but it is almost always because God is speaking through those words.
Sometimes God is speaking to us through the voice of a friend. Have you ever felt that you were hearing your friend’s voice, but the message was from God? That’s when you know it’s really God speaking through your friend. It can also happen with an acquaintance or even a stranger.
How Listening Prayer Helps us Hear God
“Listening prayer” is a name some people give to a certain way of praying. Many people imagine prayer to be like a monologue. But prayer actually resembles a dialog. We talk to God, and God speaks back to us. Listening prayer focuses on asking God for guidance, then being quiet. In listening prayer, we are focused on intentional listening and allowing God to speak.
In response to our request, God is able to rise above the voices that we hear in our lives every day — the people around us or the self-talk. So, we’ll click on pause, and let God speak to us in the silence, providing us with clear guidance. Let’s see how this works.
An Attempt at Listening Prayer
Here is one way to do Listening Prayer. Find a quiet spot where you will not be interrupted. Bring a notebook and pen with you. Sit for a few moments in reverence, thinking about God’s greatness. After a time, turn your mind to your request. Present it to the Lord with reverence, then wait in silent expectation. Try to keep your mind focused on God; if it wanders, gently bring it back. Spend about ten minutes waiting.
If/when you hear from God, be aware of opening your heart to the answer. Let God help you do that in response to what He says. In fact, writing down whatever you think you hear is a really good step (that’s why you brought the notebook) in case what you hear is something you need to think over.
You may not hear from Him the very first time you try this exercise; however, if you keep doing it you will get results. You will hear a voice that is not your own, and you will get an answer to your question. It will be very clear to you that the answer could only have come from God.
When You Aren’t Sure it is God’s Voice
If you’re not sure you are hearing God’s voice, that’s okay. it is normal not to know for sure sometimes. You don’t have to get anxious about this. If He is giving you an answer, He will also give you confirmation of that answer in several different ways. He is consistent, He is persistent, and He is patient. He won’t stop telling you the answer until He is sure you’ve got it.
One way to discern whether you truly heard God’s voice is to ask other Christians about it. If you share your question, they can help you decide if you truly heard from God. Although listening to others is never better than listening to God, they can help you compare your answer against Biblical truths to see if it lines us the way it should. Your message will be affirmed if they seem to agree with the voice you heard. Plus, by hearing it in two different ways, you can be sure the message is true and not some figment of your imagination.
Don’t try to force God to tell you something
If you’re trying to convince yourself that something will come through, but you’re just hearing it when He’s speaking to you…maybe he isn’t really. Concentrate on cultivating respect for the Lord and wait for His timing in delivering your message. Again, remember to open your heart. If you don’t want God providing you specific guidance in your prayer or what you think should be included in the morals of Scripture, you are free to make your own decision. God is a gentleman who never forces.
Allow the Holy Spirit to Intercede on your Behalf
Remember when Jesus told the disciples he was sending the Holy Spirit as a helper? Well, that was the best helper we could have, and he comes at any time, whenever he sees you are trying to talk to God. Have faith that the Holy Spirit can speak for you with the same strength as other people who read and believe the Bible because God loves you just as much. Do not be ashamed.
Sometimes you will hear only from the Holy Spirit until you’ve been humbled by God. When we obsess about hearing God’s voice, sometimes we have to back off and recall that it’s more important what he’s doing overall than what he’s doing in each moment and at every turn. In other words, he may be rooting out a bitter attitude, and we’re worried about whether to take a new position at work. When we go ahead and take the position, we find the bitterness is leaving – and we realize the situation has God’s handiwork written all over it. That’s what is meant by being humbled, in that moment we realize His greatness.
If the message you hear is truly from God (or the Holy Spirit) and is not something you conjured in your own mind, it may be surprising. It will give you clarity or meaning. It will be startling enough or awesome enough or powerful enough till you keep it in the forefront of your mind returning to it often. And it will give you a little jump-start to your faith.
Q & A
What does it mean to hear God’s voice?
A: God’s voice is different for everyone, and it can be different at different times. It can be a whisper. It can be a gut feeling or a dream. It can be a sureness you don’t usually have. But it always brings you peace.
How do you know when God is talking to you?
First, you have to belong to Him to know. Second, you know because you are getting a message. It might be clear in your mind or it might be affirmed in other ways, but you’re definitely getting a message. It will line up with the Word, and very often will be in the next Scripture you read. You can develop this discernment through reading, prayer, and reflection.
Can Humans hear God’s voice?
Yes. He is said to speak with a “still, small voice.” Usually, the voice we hear is not audible, though; instead, it is an impression in our mind or a knowing in our Spirit. When we have a gut feeling we should change course, wait, or do something else we normally wouldn’t think of doing – it’s very likely tht’s God speaking.
What does God’s voice sound like?
Do you feel like God’s voice sounds like Charlton Heston? Or your dad when he’s angry? Or do you think he speaks in a “still, small voice?” (1 Kings 19:12). No two people hear God’s voice the same way. It is miraculous that He can speak to Moses from a burning bush and to Joshua like a young boy. He may speak to you in another voice.