Five Practical Tips to Help You on Your Way to Hearing God
Maybe you’ve been a Christian your whole life, but you’ve never actually heard God speak directly to you. Or maybe you’re a total skeptic and can’t help but cringe every time someone says, “God told me this or that…”
Wherever you are at, make a decision today to at least be open to the possibility of knowing a God who really does speak. Imagine for a moment, God Himself saying these words right to YOU, “My sweet child, do not fear, do not doubt, do not be discouraged…I am right here with you and have so much to tell you about your future with Me…yes, YOU!”
In a previous post we identified five of the most common ways through which God speaks to His people: the Bible, still small voice, other people, circumstances, dreams and/or visions. Here, I will address the question: How do you begin hearing God speak directly to you in your own life?
Here are five tips to help you on your way to hearing God, tuning out the distractions of life and tuning into the powerful voice of your Heavenly Father:
#1 Believe. In order to start hearing God’s voice in our lives, we must believe that He speaks. Take a look at these verses:
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth… he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” (John 16:13)
“I am the good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me…They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:14, 16)
Are you convinced yet? Knowing God is more than following a rule book of the Ten Commandments and trying to be the best person you can be. The God we serve is the same God who SPOKE to Abraham, Noah, Moses, Joseph, Daniel, Nehemiah, Jesus and many others who were led to do mighty things for the Kingdom of God. The only pre-requisite they all had to have was simple faith that they were being led by the voice of their God! That’s all that is required of you and me too. Do you believe?
#2 Be in the Word. In order know the voice of God, we must know who God is. In order to know who God is, we must read His Word, for it is the Book of Life, revealing His nature and character in dealing with His people. If we do not know the true heart and character of God, we can easily be deceived. The Scriptures warn us of false prophets and false doctrines that will come (Matthew 24:23-27; see also 2 Peter 3:3 and Jude 1:17-18), many of which are out there now, disguising themselves as ‘good’ and even ‘godly’ things. But we must remain vigilant in guarding against falsehood by knowing the Truth. Studying the real thing, will help us know the reality of His voice when it comes, and spot counterfeit when it comes.
#3 Be Expectant. One of my favorite verses is, “In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (Psalm 5:3). When we have a living, vibrant, two-way relationship with the Lord, we must remember to turn on our ‘spiritual antennas’ and expect to hear God speak to us. But notice what precedes the expectation: laying requests before Him. Sometimes we are not hearing from God because we are not asking specific things from Him. Jesus Himself says, “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:8). Expecting to hear from God without seeking Him first is like expecting your friends to come to your Birthday party without sending invitations. We must devote ourselves to asking, seeking and knocking on the door of our Father’s heart, waiting in expectation for Him to answer.
#4 Be Ready to Respond. We can’t just say we want to hear God without the desire to want to obey what He says. When we truly train our spiritual ears to hear from God, the hard fact is this: sometimes He says things we don’t want to hear. It’s true. He might say things like, Apologize to your mom…Forgive the person you wronged you…Give half your salary to that needy family across the street…Ask your boss if she needs prayer. Hearing God is an awesome privilege, but with it comes great responsibility. God is looking for those who will hear AND act, carrying out the directives He has spoken. Jesus says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28). So be ready to hear…and respond! Otherwise you’re better off leaving your earplugs in.
#5 Be in Community. There will be times when we are unsure whether what we are hearing is the voice of God or not. This is where Christian community proves invaluable. There have been times where I think I am hearing something from God and I will go to a trusted friend who knows me well and run it by her, “I am hearing this…does that resonate with you?” Thankfully, in these times God will speak wisdom and discernment through that friend and she will either say, “Yes, based on what God has been teaching you this season, this does resonate with my spirit.” Or, “Ya know, these sound like negative words of condemnation and don’t seem to be in line with God’s character in His Word.” And then we’ll pray in agreement with or in opposition to the Word and ask God for confirmation or further insight. We were never meant to walk this spiritual journey alone. Proverbs 14:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” There will be times when we need to lean on others for advice, wisdom and protection to help us stay on the path God has carved out for us.
Go beyond imagining God could speak to you and choose today to believe He WILL. By taking practical steps of being in the Word, being expectant, being ready to respond and being in community, you can be sure His voice will come! Rejoice, for God has special secrets to reveal to you (Psalm 25:14) and mysteries to uncover in your very own soul. It’s up to you to open your spiritual ears to hear. Will you?