You’ve been praying. You’ve been living a Christian life. But your youth minister keeps asking you to listen to what God is saying to you and you think she might be a little crazy. I mean, do real people actually HEAR God talk to them?
Yes! And you can too.
I think most of us believe, ‘He’s not talking to me. He talked to Moses, and Jeremiah, and Isaiah, and a few other old dudes with white beards. I’m just one of 7.5 billion humans alive today. You have to be super holy to hear God and that’s not me.’
But in my experience, it’s the opposite. God actually speaks so often to us, that we just don’t realize it’s Him speaking because it’s so familiar. I’ve not personally heard an audible voice in my prayer, but rather, God “speaks” directly to our hearts. It might be an idea, a thought or a specific word that pops into mind. Here are a few things I’ve learned about distinguishing the voice of God…
- God speaks individually to each of us because he knows us so intimately and individually. I can tell you what God’s voice sounds like to me, but you’re not me, so God’s voice probably won’t sound exactly the same to you. God knows YOU. From all of humanity, there has never been, nor will there ever be, a person exactly like you. God does not lose you in the crowd of people. He created you as an individual, and he continues to know you as that. He’s been speaking to you since you were created in your mothers womb so His voice should actually be the most familiar thing in the world to your heart, though it may take some time and effort to be able to recognize and name that voice as Him. “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13
- God’s voice is comforting and brings peace. Have you ever had just a really terrible, no good, very bad day? The kind of day when all you craved was to hear your mom, or your best friend, or someone that you know loves you sincerely answer your call or be home to greet you when you opened the door. That’s what God’s voice sounds like, the way that feels. There is power in God’s voice and even if that’s hard to name and the fruit of it in our lives reassures us that we are loved. Even if God is working to correct you or discipline you, there is still an aspect of love that helps us to know that he want’s what is best for us. If there is no love or peace, it’s not God’s voice. “The discipline of the LORD, my son, disdain not; spurn not his reproof; For whom the LORD loves he reproves, and he chastises the son he favors.” Proverbs 3:11
- There is always fruit when God speaks. When we pray, there are three main options from where ideas, thoughts, or words come from: God, ourselves, or Satan. The voice of evil is typically easy to pick out. It insults us. It makes us feel worse. It rubs our noses in our past mistakes and defeats our future selves before we’ve even had a chance to try. The harder voices to distinguish our usually our own vs. God’s. A good way to recognize the difference is to look for the fruit. What will come about as a result of this idea, thought, or word? Will it bring goodness to myself and others, especially in the big picture of life? Then it’s likely God. Does it only satisfy me and feel superficial in this quick moment? Then it’s likely you. When God speaks, it’s like eating a hearty and healthy meal that satisfies you both in the short term and long term. Our own voices are usually more like a quick little sugar rush from junk food. Not necessarily terrible, but not deeply meaningful. “So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11
- The more you begin to recognize and give credit to God’s voice in your life, the easier it becomes to hear it. When I first started trying to know God’s voice in my life, it was really difficult. I would have to be in a place of deep prayer to be able to quiet my heart and mind enough to remember to listen. But years later, His voice can pop in any time, in the middle of a song, with any page of Scripture, while talking to another person, etc. The more I can stop and respond with a quick, “Thank you for speaking to me God.” the more I find myself hearing him. “…the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.” John 10:3
Hearing and recognizing the voice of the Lord takes a relationship. It takes effort and practice. It takes our humility to say, “That was a really great idea/thought/word. It MUST have been God because every good thing comes from Him.” (“all good giving and every perfect gift is from above,” James 1:17)
Finally, there is no substitute for Scripture when it comes to learning what the voice of God sounds like. Nothing in the world, not the holiest priest, the most prayerful mentor, the best blog 🙂 …nothing will reveal the voice of God to you like Scripture, especially over time. So don’t fall asleep and end one more day without letting your Father speak to you through His Word.
For the Lord,