How can you listen to God? How can you know God’s voice? Is He even speaking?
The first key to hearing God is to expect Him to speak. Ask Him questions and then expect an answer. However, if there is not an immediate answer, do NOT sit there trying to hear something. That will quickly get you off track. Trust that God is smart enough and big enough to make Himself heard when He’s ready to speak. Questioning if you are hearing God means you haven’t. Wait until you know you have heard from Him. He doesn’t want to confuse you; Satan does. If you are acting on your best understanding from what you believe God is telling you to do with a heart that is surrendered to God’s will and set on obeying, trust God to honor that and bless what you are doing but also to correct your path if needed.
The second key is to let Him speak when and how and what He desires. He can use something someone says. He can use a verse that you see or hear repeatedly. He’s creative. Don’t put a yes or no question to God; let Him answer how He wants. Don’t try to box Him into how you want Him to answer. You can put out “fleeces” for God, but make sure you give God a way out. (NOTE: the word “fleece” here comes from the story of Gideon in Judges 6:36-40 and refers to asking God for a sign to indicate His will.) Don’t say “if it happens then this, but if not, then this.” That’s forcing Him one way or another. Don’t try to force Him to speak a certain way. My family did use fleeces for a time to ask God to confirm my husband’s travel plans. My husband would tell me of the country he believed he was supposed to go to, and we considered it confirmed if someone who didn’t know about the fleece mentioned the country to us over the next two days. It became a fun thing to listen for it. And it happened in all sorts of “random” ways. The only way I really use fleeces now is something like: “If you want me to talk to that person, bring us together after church.”
The third key is know God. He will speak what is consistent with the Bible and His character. He’s not going to encourage you to be selfish, to think of yourself.
I do know people who have heard God speak out loud. I am not one of them. It is not the typical way He speaks. So what can we expect?
One way you can expect God to speak is through the sudden “dawning.” Something just suddenly dawns on you and you know the whole thing before you even have words for it. It bypasses your thinking. That’s important! You might be reading the Bible and suddenly a verse seems to be saying the answer to your question. You could just be doing chores around the house and suddenly you know.
God can speak through our circumstances. If something doesn’t work, I will pray and ask God to let it work if He wants me to do whatever it is. If it doesn’t work, then I back off. This isn’t what God wants, at least not now. He can even use the enemy’s attacks in stopping things to direct us. God is bigger than Satan. Satan doesn’t get to direct our path. However, God can use Satan’s interruptions to direct us a certain way. See your troubles as blessings from God. He has a purpose in all of them. Your life is not an accident. What is God saying in your circumstances? Ask Him! Expect Him to help you see. Be patient for an answer.
God can speak through our bodies. If something brings feelings of anxiety or depression, or you feel something gripping your heart, stop. Seek God. He’s telling you something; you shouldn’t be doing something. If you are having some problem, ask God if He’s trying to show you something or IF there’s anything that you need to repent of.
There is blessing in everything when it comes to God. He’s in control and creates purpose in our lives. Our lives aren’t accidents. I can tell you that God used anxiety to get me free of TV and movies. I told God I wanted it out of my life, and I asked for His help to hate it and get it away for good. Watching something began to give me anxiety. It was no longer enjoyable. I am now free of all things streaming and the anxiety went away. It was just there to serve God’s good purpose in my life. I didn’t fight what God was doing by fighting the anxiety, except to work to keep my thoughts on Him. I submitted to His plan.
God can also speak into our thoughts. This is the trickiest one, so use caution. When Jesus rebukes Peter as recorded in Matthew 16:23, he basically says to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan. Those are the thoughts of man, not God.” There are only two types of thoughts: God thoughts and Get-behind-me-Satan thoughts. It doesn’t matter if they were your thoughts or put there by our enemy; and there IS an enemy.
One thing God does for me is often answering before I even finish my question. That way I know it wasn’t me answering because I was still trying to form the question. God speaking leads to clarity, understanding, peace, comfort, and correction that leads us to holiness and alignment with God’s word.
Satan brings confusion. Satan wants us to satisfy our flesh. Satan’s voice is pushy and demanding. Satan is in a hurry. Do it now! Satan’s voice is loud and wants to be heard and grab your attention. Satan’s voice is justifying, giving reasons, trying to talk you into something.
God doesn’t give reasons. God leads by faith. He’s not going to try to talk you into anything. He will ask you to just obey on faith. He is not in a hurry. Jesus never hurried. He’s not going to push you into anything. He’s always going to agree with Himself. It will align with the Bible. God might bring to mind a verse or the address for a verse, even if you don’t know what that reference is. Look it up and ask the Lord what He wants to say through the verse.
Lesson Point: God speaks. Expect Him to. TRUST HIM that He knows how to speak to you in a way that you can hear and understand.
Challenge Question: Can you think of a time when you know God spoke to you? Can you see God at work in any circumstances you are in now? If not, ask Him to show you Himself in them.