[A How-To Guide For Hearing God’s Voice]
All believers are equipped with spiritual ears to hear God’s voice. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). We each have physical and spiritual senses. Thus, we each have the faculties to hear the voice of God. Most of us have developed our physical and mental senses and left our spiritual senses underdeveloped.
In John 7:37-39 Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive.”
The prerequisites given were: being thirsty, coming to Jesus, believing, and drinking. Thus, the promise is for the believing, thirsty one. The believer will be able to drink from [connect with] the flow of living water [Holy Spirit]. The attitude of being thirsty, coming to Jesus, believing, and drinking is the attitude of the one that receives from the living, communicating God.
We must posture ourselves to hear God’s communication. Many times our lives are filled with many distractions, and we have not learned how to listen to the subtle voice of God. A major part of hearing God’s voice is a result of paying close attention. Most people have to practice listening to be aware of the subtle ways God generally communicates. In addition, one must make sure there is no unforgiveness or disobedience in one’s heart that would stop the flow of His communication.
The Communicating God
After proper positioning, one can expect to communicate with the living God. The following is one way to hear God’s voice that has been extremely helpful to me in understanding and hearing more specifically from God. One can also experience Him speaking through words that come alive to one’s heart in the Bible. In addition, God speaks in vision or pictures (Heb 12:2; 1 Cor 12:10), dreams (Acts 16:9), through emotions (Gal 5:22-23), illuminated Scripture, the presence of peace or pressure in one’s spirit, circumstances (Jonah), and flowing revelation to the heart (1 Cor 2:9-10).
Mark Virkler writes about four keys to hearing and communicating with God, taken from Habakkuk 2:1-3 and also Rev 1:10-11. Simply stated, the four keys are:
- Set one’s mind on Jesus. Focus on the truth of Jesus Christ in some manner (a picture of Jesus in one’s mind, or a simple thought of love). One may also pray in tongues or listen to anointed music that helps focus on the flow of the Spirit of Jesus.
- Stillness. Quiet oneself to hear His voice. Ps 46:10 tells us to, “Cease striving [let go, relax] and know that I am God.” The King James and other versions, render this, “Be still, and know that I am God.” It is sometimes difficult to still all the noise, voices, and thoughts in life. Learning to quiet one’s inner being is key to hearing God’s gentle voice in one’s inner being. One can use a verse of Scripture to still the mind (for example, Psalm 23).
- Spontaneity. Recognize God’s voice as spontaneous thoughts that light upon the mind. Begin to notice that thoughts from one’s own mind are analytical, and thoughts from God are spontaneous, flowing from the living water inside the believer (2 Cor 10:4-5; Gal 2:20; John 7:37-39).
- Journaling. Write your question, “What would you say to me today, Lord?” Then write down the flow of thoughts and/or pictures that light upon your mind in return. This is two-way journaling—a discussion between you and God. It is a biblical method that can help one grow in discerning the voice of God in one’s heart. It is simply recording prayers and then also what one senses to be the answer from God. The reason journaling helps so much, is that you can just simply write down whatever spontaneously comes to mind without judging. There is always time to judge later. Just let the words flow and write—this is practice hearing! It is helpful to have several mentors, spiritual leaders, or other spiritual persons that can help you to evaluate if what you are receiving is from God.
When one begins hearing our Lord’s voice in two-way journaling, one will find He gives healing, love, and affirmation. He will speak edification, exhortation, and comfort to one’s heart (1 Cor 14:3). He will lead one into a fuller love relationship with Himself and provide encouragement and self-acceptance.
Characteristics for Recognizing God’s Voice:
- God’s voice comes as thoughts in your mind most of the time.
- God’s thoughts will always line up with the Bible.
- God’s thoughts are spontaneous and not cognitive or analytical, which means one must move from living solely out of reason and embrace spontaneity as well (like children, Matt 18:3). Jesus lived out of an inner flow of thoughts and pictures from His Father (John 5:19-20, 30).
- God’s thoughts flow easily and are expressed in first person.
- God’s thoughts will be expressed through one’s personal style and speech, just as each of the Gospel writer’s personalities came through in their writings.
- God’s thoughts often are light and gentle, easily cut off by any exertion of the self will.
- God’s thoughts will be wiser, more healing, more loving and more concerned about one’s heart motive than one’s personal thoughts.
- God’s thoughts will cause a special reaction inside a person. They will cause excitement, conviction, faith, life, awe, joy, love, and peace. Negative or accusing thoughts are not God.
- When one embraces God’s thoughts, there is a grace, strength, and joy to carry His thoughts and words out.
- One’s spiritual senses are trained by becoming more and more sensitive to God’s thoughts and communications.
This is a short blog on a topic that fills multitudes of books. Yet, hopefully, these small nuggets of information have resonated with you in some way and added some valuable insight into your pursuit of our gracious Lord. If one practices these keys, one will experience a dynamic friendship with God. I highly recommend reading the Virklers’ book, 4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice, and they have much good information on their web site at cwgministries.org.
P.S. In learning to recognize God’s voice and presence it is helpful to be in physical proximity to others who hear and experience His presence. I am developing a workshop/seminar in conjunction with my doctoral work on knowing God more intimately. The plan is to offer this workshop/seminar in the fall this year in Spokane, WA. In the seminar we will learn and practice several strategies that deepen personal knowledge of our Lord. So, stay tuned!
Check out my Pinterest Board:
Mark and Patti Virkler, 4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2010).