I love to encourage believers to hear God. A huge part of my testimony is how I spent years in religious experience. I tried to do the things I thought God wanted—the good Christian things—and had no clue I could actually talk with Him.
That He spoke all the time, every day, and wanted to talk with me.
Sitting in church one Sunday morning, the pastor started talking about how he was “speaking with God.” I thought it was Christian metaphor. You know, religious speak for “I was studying” or “I recognized in Scripture”. But as he spoke, I realized that he meant what He said. He actually heard God.
I learned that God speaks. And I was mad about it.
Why was I doing all this hard work, living this “christian life” trying to mark all the boxes on my checklist of faith while God was talking with other people and not with me?! I wondered if only a select few got to hear Him. That perhaps if I attained some level of good standing on my own, then I’d begin to hear His voice. But no matter what, I knew I wanted to be one of the people who heard His voice. So I began my journey of learning to hear God, and this is what I’ve learned:
It begins with Jesus.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6, ESV)
God made a way for us to connect with Him through Jesus. I once thought this was all about salvation and spending eternity in heaven. But that’s only part of the picture. Jesus made a way for us to connect with God today, not just someday in the distant future. When Jesus is praying for the believers, He acknowledges His authority “to give eternal life” (John 17:2, ESV). And notice what He says next:
And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3, ESV, emphasis added)
We get to experience life in knowing God. Not religious routine in service or burdens in obligation. If you’re not sure you’re experiencing the truth and the way in a life-giving way, I encourage you to pause here and check out this video where I share how to come to Jesus. Scripture tells us that when we come to God, when we are of Him, we can hear His voice.
Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God. (John 8:47, ESV)
Believe He wants to speak with you.
Talking with God isn’t something we earn. It’s a gift given to His children out of His love for us. If you still can’t picture yourself having a conversation with the Lord, check out these verses.
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. (Jeremiah 33:3, ESV)
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10 27–28, ESV)
Seems clear to me, God’s plan is to talk with us. For us to hear His answers and guidance. These verses also give us some practical insight about how to hear His voice.
Become a sheep.
This goes back to the invitation to come to Jesus if you’ve yet to do so. I’ve often found that when I have difficulty hearing God, it’s because I’ve chosen not to obey the things He’s said to me. Or, I’m hearing Him just fine but I don’t want to hear the things He’s saying. So I resist and ignore, until eventually I’ve muffled His voice by shouting my own preferences.
Sheep know their shepherd and follow him.
Talk with God about things.
Communicating with God isn’t like leaving a voicemail message. Talk with Him. Receiving His answers means we ask Him questions, right? Talk with Him about all sorts of things, and they don’t have to be super spiritual either. Want some ice breakers for your Holy Spirit conversation?
- God, what are you excited about today?
- What do you think about this situation I’m facing?
- What’s something you want to talk with me about?
- How do you feel about me?
- What’s something I do that makes you smile?
- What one word of encouragement do you want me to hold on to today?
- What’s something my kids do that reminds You of me?
- What do you want me to understand from this passage of scripture?
Practice hearing His voice.
You know how you can pick out your best friends voice from across a crowded room? That takes practice. You’ve talked with this person for months, maybe years. You know the inflection of their voice and what words are common in their vocabulary.
We can have the same experience with God and that comes with practice. Most of us won’t hear Jesus speak in an audible voice. But He communicates with us through nudges. Thoughts that we know we’re not smart or wise enough to have on our own. Mental pictures or whispers, and stirring in our hearts that connects something we’re going through with the truth of His word. That’s God speaking.
If this is new to you, check out these helpful tips in learning How to Pray: 5 Steps for Beginners.
Confirm what you’re hearing.
God will never say something to you that conflicts with what He’s already said in His Word. In fact, the Bible is the living breathing Word of God, so it’s a great place to go to hear Him! Read and ask Him to talk with you about what you’re reading.
If you think you’ve heard something from God through a whisper or nudge, go back to the Bible and see if what you heard lines up with what He already said.
Looking for help in your Bible reading? This post will help: How To Read The Bible
Go to someone, or a few people, that you believe hear God and are mature in the faith, and ask them to help you confirm if what you think you heard sounds like God as they know Him.
Do what He says.
The best way to stay a sheep is to keep after the shepherds voice. If you struggle to understand something He’s said, ask for help from others strong in the faith. And talk with Him about it. Share your concerns, your fears, your questions, and ask Him to continue this dialogue. Ask Jesus to help you not only to hear His voice, but to grow your faith to do what He says.
God speaks. All the time. And He longs to talk with you!
Looking for some additional resources? Here are a few I whole-heartedly recommend!
Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When He Speaks by Priscilla Shirer