Friday, February 6, 2015

Hearing God's Voice

Jesus said that His sheep would hear His voice (John 10).  Prayer is meant to be a two-way conversation, where we speak to God and He speaks back to us (Jeremiah 33:3). 

Hearing the voice of God is the ability in our spirit and mind to sense what God is saying.  I have personally never heard the audible voice of God, but on many occasions I know I have heard Him speak:  through His Word, impressions in my spirit, thoughts in my mind, pictures in my imaginations, lyrics of a song, circumstances in my life, etc.  God speaks in many ways.  How exciting that we can hear His voice!!!

The following are some important principles about hearing God, as well as some practical suggestions in hearing God’s voice.

1.    Jesus makes prayer possible.
It is only through the blood of Jesus that we can be forgiven of our sins and come boldly come into His holy presence (Hebrews 10).  When we repent of our sin and put our trust in Christ alone for our salvation, we are forgiven of all our sin and given a relationship with God that allows to come to Him 24/7 and commune in prayer. 

2.    Jesus wants us to hear His voice.
Any healthy relationship has regular interaction that involves talking and listening.  It is no different in our relationship with God.  He wants us to talk to Him, and He wants to talk to us.  How cool that God is a speaking God.  He speaks to those who are still enough to listen.  Perhaps we don’t hear because we are too busy and preoccupied to really listen.  “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).

3.     We are “wired” for sound. 
When we receive Christ into our life, we receive the indwelling Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13; Romans 8:9).  The Holy Spirit is the very presence and power of God that enables us to hear His voice.

Practical advice in hearing God
1.    Remove things that cloud your heart and mind.
This can be very difficult because we are bombarded with messages and information, namely due to things such as television and smart phones.  Ask God to show you what things you need to reduce from your life to enable you to hear Him more clearly.  I can assure you the benefits will far outweigh the costs.

2.    Be still before the Lord.
This is when you get quiet, and stop talking.  You just listen.  And you wait for God to bring things to your mind that He wants to say to you.  “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10). 

This point applies to your formal quiet times but also throughout the day, learning to be still before Him even when you are driving or doing other stuff.  It is having a still heart and not being so A.D.D. as we go about our day. 

3.    Take extended time away with God.
This is when you get away for a ½ day or full day or a retreat.  I cannot tell you how valuable it is to do this, especially in our very busy culture.   Getting away for some extended quiet will enhance your ability to hear from God, be with Him, draw near to Him, and tune your heart to Him.

4.    Prayerfully meditate on God’s Word.
When you read God’s Word, do it prayerfully and not just mentally.  It is not a mere mental exercise where you are just getting information.  Instead, you are meditating on His Word and asking Him to speak directly to you through it.

5.    Be receptive to God’s “downloads”.
I believe God has some cool things to download to us, but we are often too busy to receive it.  Seek to be in a mode of receptivity, so that if God has something to say to you, you will indeed hear it.  And when He does speak, be sure you do this next point:

6.    Write down what God says! 
Recently a friend of mine said, “If God goes to the trouble of speaking to us, the least we can do it write it down.”  Journaling is a great way to dialogue with God.  The Psalms are basically King David and others journaling their times with God.  Hab. 2:1-2 says, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Then the LORD replied:  ‘Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.’”

Another way to journal is to actually write down questions you have for God and then record what you sense Him saying to you in response to your question.

7.    Test everything with the written Word.
God has spoken in His infallible and inerrant Word (i.e. Bible).  He will never say anything contrary to this book!  The more you know the written Word, the better you can discern the voice of God, especially when you have various subjective impressions.  Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology, says that we should not ignore subjective impressions, but realize those means of guidance must always be tested through the Bible.

8.    Get godly counsel when unsure.
The book of Proverbs tells us that in the abundance of counsel there is wisdom.  God has given us the body of Christ to help guide us and protect us from foolish decisions.  We need the wisdom and input of more mature followers of Christ.  I certainly hope you have this in your life.

9.    Never make a major decision on subjective guidance.
Unless God clearly appears to you in an undeniable manner, I would caution one from making a major decision on the more subjective aspects of guidance (e.g., prophetic word, dream, vision, impression, etc.).  For me, God has used the more subjective means to either start the process that He will confirm in other ways.  Or He uses the subjective to confirm something He has already been showing me.

10. Be open to receiving something for another.
As you seek to hear God’s voice, sometimes He will speak to you something that you are to share with another. I have often had this happen.  It is fun to get a word for someone else, and then to have him/her tell you how much it spoke to them.

We are so blessed to be in relationship with a God who still speaks.  God is, and He is not silent.  Have fun walking with the Lord and seeking to hear His voice.  You and I won’t bat 1000 in this journey, but it is fun to seek to improve our “hearing average” over time!

Email me your thoughts on this blog and how you experience God speaking to you,
Pastor David;