I have really good news; God is speaking to you and wants you to hear His voice. Prophetic gifts are not something a select few special people are born with. The Bible commands us to earnestly desire spiritual gifts, especially prophecy. (See 1 Corinthians 14:1.) If the Bible tells us that spiritual gifts are to be desired, that means they can be acquired. Today I want to give you 3 easy steps to help you hear God’s voice, but first, we need to explore what the voice of God actually is.
The Mind of Christ.
I’ve never heard the audible voice of God. I used to think that hearing the audible voice of God was the gold standard for the prophetic. And why not? It’s clear and unmistakable but requires little to no faith. Many people want to hear the voice of God audibly, and while I’ve met people who have heard God’s audible voice, I myself never have. I would still love to hear the audible voice of God, but I recently realized that the normal way God speaks to us is far superior to hearing God’s audible voice in many ways.
What is the purpose of communication? We have such elaborate mechanisms for communication. If you take spoken language for instance, we use our lungs and vocal cords to make vibrations in the air. Those vibrations are then received by your ears, transmitted through a very complex mechanism into electrical signals which are carried through your auditory nerve and then interpreted by your brain into intelligible information. The whole goal of this process is to get the thoughts that are in my head into your’s.
Our methods of communication are imperfect. Even with such marvels as spoken language, we still never fully understand one another. We miscommunicate and misinterpret frequently. If only there was a way that I could make you feel my emotions, think my thoughts, and fully experience my mind. This is the most intimate relationship I can conceive. Amazingly, the scriptures themselves tell us that this is exactly how God communicates to us by the Holy Spirit!
“The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for,1 Corinthians 2:10-16
‘Who has known the mind of the Lord
so as to instruct him?’
But we have the mind of Christ.”
Imagine a relationship with someone which is so intimate it is as if you share one spirit. Imagine having your spirit – the very essence of who you are – placed into someone else! That level of intimacy would make me feel uncomfortable, and yet that is the very relationship that we have with God when we receive the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that we actually have the mind of Christ! Imagine the implications of that! It’s staggering!
Why would God need to communicate with us through vibrating sound waves, or a manipulation of your auditory cortex if He has given you the mind of Christ? It is no wonder then, that God’s voice is often confused with our own thoughts. God communicates with us through His Spirit, giving us the mind of Christ. This is the essence of prophecy, and more fundamentally the essence of a relationship with God; we have access to God’s thoughts!
I was playing the drums for my worship team at church one Sunday morning when I saw a woman walk in the sanctuary and inconspicuously slip into her pew. No one really noticed her as worship was in full swing, but a thought occurred to my mind that she was being healed of back issues and migraine headaches.
I immediately recognized this thought as coming from the Holy Spirit. I asked the Lord if He wanted me to do anything with that information, and I distinctly heard in my spirit, “No, I just thought you would like to know.” I was stunned that God would speak to me so relationally, but I wanted to make sure that I was actually discerning God’s voice correctly. I approached the woman after service and asked if she had been struggling with back pain this morning.
“Yes!” She said, “How did you know that? I had horrible back pain and almost didn’t come to church this morning because I could hardly get out of bed, but during worship all the pain left.”
I was able to pray and prophesy over her. She is now a pillar of that church. She told me later that she knew God was the day she met me because God spoke so clearly to her through that encounter. What amazed me most about this moment was that God spoke to me, not because He expected anything out of me, just that He thought I would be interested in knowing what He was doing.
The Holy Spirit will speak to us through the scriptures as well. Suddenly, the scriptures just seem to leap off of the page and fill your heart with faith and courage. This is the voice of God making His word come alive in your heart. How precious these moments are! Sometimes in prayer, the Holy Spirit will begin to change your emotions as He gives you a piece of His heart for the person or situation for which you are praying. This is all because as Christians, we have the mind of Christ.
How to Discern God’s Thoughts.
I’ve learned through trial and error a few tips to discern thoughts that come from the Holy Spirit and thoughts that don’t. Here are a couple to help you along in your journey.
Live with one ear open
I’ve found that I am much more likely to hear God’s voice when I’m actually listening for it. I try to live my life with one ear always tuned toward Heaven. This means that through my day, in my heart I try to be aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit within me and upon me. If I am paying attention to Him, I won’t just hear Him when He shouts, I can also hear Him when He whispers.
In The Practice of the Presence of God, it is recorded that Brother Lawrence said this:
“…we should establish ourselves in a sense of GOD’s Presence, by continually conversing with Him. That it was a shameful thing to quit His conversation, to think of trifles and fooleries.”Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God: The Best Rule of Holy
The best way to develop your spiritual ear is to live in a constant state of engagement with the Holy Spirit. You can kickstart this through praise a worship. The attitude of your heart which is cultivated during times of praise and worship through song is the very same attitude necessary for a lifestyle of hearing and obeying the voice of God. Start your day with worship and praise and try your best to maintain that conversation through the day. You’ll notice your spiritual life growing deeper and more vibrant as you practice this spiritual discipline.
Recognize God’s Accent
The Holy Spirit speaks with the accent of Heaven. His accent sounds like peace, it sounds like comfort, it sounds like faith, and it sounds like courage. Even when the Holy Spirit is convicting you of sin it is unto the restoration of fellowship with Him, and thus will never leave you with a sense of hopelessness.
Scripture says that faith comes through hearing the word of God. (See Romans 10:17.) This means that the rhema (actively spoken word) of God actually creates faith in our hearts. If the thoughts in your mind are creating chaos, confusion, fear, doubt, or discouragement; it isn’t the voice of God you’re hearing. The accent of Heaven is faith. Listen for His accent, and you will discern His voice more clearly.
Here’s the tough reality, you don’t really know whether or not you’re hearing the voice of God unless you take a risk and find out. If God begins to speak to you about someone, ask them if the information your received is correct. If you believe God is asking you to pull over and talk to that person sitting on the bench, do it! See what happens.
Once, while driving to my office during my campus ministry internship, I drove past a young man riding a skateboard. I distinctly heard the Lord speak to my spirit “If you share the Gospel with that young man, he’ll get saved.”
I drove around the block and pulled up to the curb around the corner from where this guy was headed. I got out of my car and approached him. We stuck up a friendly conversation. I prayed for him for something going on in his life, and then shared the Gospel with him. This young man eagerly accepted the Gospel and received Christ right on the sidewalk. He told me that his boss had been sharing the Gospel with him and that he had never really listened, but told me he couldn’t wait to tell his boss about the decision he just made.
This wouldn’t have happened if I had done what so many of us do. Had I rationalized away the voice of God, had I bowed my knee to the idol of convenience, I never would have led that young man to Christ. Too often we allow the voice of our idol of comfort to drown out the voice of God. We hear God speak to our hearts and rationalize it away because we truly don’t want to step outside of our comfort zone. Here’s the truth: the voice of God is always calling you out of the boat and onto the water. The Bible says that if you’re faithful with little, you’ll be given much. (See Luke 16:10.) This is why those who are obedient hear God more clearly; they have been good stewards of God’s voice. If you want to hear God’s voice clearly, there is no shortcut around faithful obedience.
I pray that you will begin to hear the voice of God clearly in your life as you seek to grow in obedience and intimacy with Him. May God bless you richly.