5 Tips for Hearing God's Voice
Updated: Jul 19, 2018
Although hearing God's voice is one of the most essential facets of having a relationship with Him, it is a subject that believers sometimes struggle with at some point in their walk. In no way are we experts, but we all have bits of wisdom that can be beneficial to others, even if they are simple tips and/or reminders. As you can imagine, it's also a lengthy topic that could be discussed for days (which is something that we actually do here at YWAM), but here is a small and brief handful of tips that may be helpful for you!
1. Start and End in the Word
The Bible reveals to us who God is, what He's like, and helps us to discern things that He would and wouldn't say. It is our filter and test for any and every word or revelation that we feel may be coming from the Lord. Nothing He speaks through a prophecy, dream, vision, or by any other means will ever contradict His written word, His character, or His nature. I've also heard it said that it's difficult to know what God is saying now if we don't know what He has already said previously. By spending time in the Word, we familiarize ourselves with His voice, making it lots easier to recognize when it's Him and when it's not. Or, if we aren't completely sure if it's Him or not, we have a reliable way to test what we sensed.
2. Don't Box Him In
We have God on record speaking (audibly) through a burning bush and a donkey. He once made a hand appear that wrote on a wall. He used healthy and withered corn stocks, a basket of ripe fruit, a boiling pot tilting from the north, sheafs of grain bowing down, and a plethora of other bizarre imagery to communicate His message. He used wordplay and idioms, and sometimes used the wordplay in conjunction with other visions. God can (and does) use anything and everything to communicate, and we can receive so much from Him if we believe, accept, and anticipate that He might speak to us through the strangest and most unexpected means (He uses the foolish things to confound the wise, remember?). While we must test everything against the written Word, that in no way means that we should limit God to only speaking a certain way. Some revelation I've personally received from God has come through everything from an iPhone case or an image of an eagle to 'secular' music or a Hollywood blockbuster.
3. Don't Immediately Dismiss the Imagination
The Holy Spirit's still, small voice, which whispers a symbolic meaning of the flower you just passed on the street will often sound a bit like your own imagination. Mental images and visions that He provides can at times appear to be constructs of your own creative capacity. But don't be so quick to discard those seemingly random thoughts, ideas, images, or impressions that may come throughout a normal day; it might be God wanting to say something. Dreams may also have divine origin, despite looking/feeling like something exceptionally ordinary, so give those words, images, and dreams an opportunity to manifest something and be tested. Though not all ideas or dreams are from God, the ones that do come from Him often leave us with an impression or sensation that differs subtly (or substantially) from our own ideas. "Test everything; hold fast to what is good."
4. Have Faith
Not only must we believe that God speaks (in an infinity of ways as mentioned in point 2), we must believe that he speaks to us and that we can hear Him! I often observe a dualistic mentality in many believers that think only pastors, missionaries, evangelists, and other 'spiritual' people can hear God, or that God chooses to speak exclusively to this type of elite Christian, leaving all of the 'normal' believers out in the cold. Nothing is farther from the truth!! One of the wonderful and moving truths of the Gospel is that all believers have equal access to God through Christ (He states several times in scripture that He does not show favoritism), all believers possess the Holy Spirit which is God himself inhabiting them (for the purposes of guiding, comforting, and many other things that require communication), and on that basis of relationship, intimacy, and communion, all believers hear God, and God speaks to them all. (Perceiving or recognizing when He speaks tends to be the hurdle, but hopefully the previous tips help address those issues a little.)
5. Do Something About It
Hearing without obedience is relatively useless. James says that faith without works is dead. While that does not mean that our salvation is in any way predicated on works, it does mean that true faith will move us to action. Revelation about who God is, what He has done for us, or who we are in Him will likely produce in us gratitude, love, and worship, all of which can be expressed in any number of different ways, and those revelations may also move us to share our faith with others. Instruction from the Lord, which may be anything from picking up trash to giving a prophetic word to someone, might require more faith and courage to act on. But if indeed it was from God, obedience will not only bless others, but it will also encourage us and serve as confirmation that what we were hearing was indeed from God. It creates in us a cycle of faith, which makes it easier to hear, which allows us to respond, and, assuming we respond properly to the voice of God, we'll have even more faith, enabling us to hear more, and the cycle continues.