My Sheep Hear My Voice – How Can I Hear God’s Voice?
As Christians seeking to please God, we are dependant on His guidance. But many of us might feel like prayer is us speaking while God silently listens, instead of a vibrant back and forth conversation. You may know that God wants to speak to you, but there are a few questions rolling around in your head: How can I hear God’s voice and how can I be sure the voice I’m hearing is God’s voice?
At Agave Sozo in Chandler, AZ, we strongly believe every Christian can learn to decipher the voice of God. Just as sheep discern the voice of their master and listen to his commands, so can we believers hear the voice of God. And when we tap into this conversation with God, it brings a level of clarity to our lives we may have never experienced.
Does God really speak to us?
From cover to cover, the Bible is one great witness that God desires to communicate with His creation and to guide us. And in the Bible, He does so in a variety of ways; falling fire, sacred rituals, priests and prophets, His scriptures, and even a still, small voice. Through these examples we see that God can use a variety of different forms to speak to us: events and circumstances, the written Word, other people, and His very own voice.
A.W. Tozer said, “It’s the nature of God to speak.” While in the Old Testament, it may seem like God is only interested in speaking to prophets, in the New Testament we have the coming of the Holy Spirit, which enables all people to have access to hearing God’s voice.
What does God’s voice sound like?
Most of us won’t experience an audible voice of the Lord, although it’s always possible. More likely, you will “hear” the voice of God as thoughts that run across your stream of consciousness. And it’s not usually a loud and commanding tone, but rather, His voice sounds more like the voice of a close friend or family member.
Listening to God also requires that we become aware of our emotions. The presence of God is peace, love, joy and happiness. Even when He’s correcting us, His voice doesn’t sound like shame, guilt, fear or judgment. If you are feeling one of these emotions as you’re sensing God’s communications, it may have more to do with how you view yourself. Or, perhaps the voice is leading you to repent and ask for forgiveness. If so, listen for a loving Father who cares deeply for you and not a harsh rebuke.
And God’s voice isn’t limited to words. As a creative God interacting with creative beings, His voice can be figurative and imaginative, as well as literal. He often enjoys communicating through imagery, so be sure to tap into this aspect of his voice as well.
How do I know I’m hearing God’s voice?
Our lives can sometimes feel like a bombardment of thoughts and voices. So how do we determine if the voice we are hearing is an outside influence, our own thoughts, or in fact, the voice of God? Like anything, it may take some time and experience to discern God’s voice, but here are three steps you can take as you practice hearing God’s voice.
1. Expect Him to answer
This is the first challenge to starting an ongoing dialogue with God: we typically don’t expect him to answer us, at least not right away. But as I’ve grown in hearing the voice of God, I’ve learned that He speaks clearly, and often right away.
When you first begin the practice of hearing from God, it can be helpful to keep a journal for jotting down the thoughts that come into your mind. Sometimes reading the thoughts you’ve written and pondering them can be helpful when we’re first tuning into His voice. Just like you can identify your best friend’s voice over the telephone or in a crowd, once you’ve come to expect God to answer and answer quickly, you learn what His voice sounds like.
2. Be ready for any answer
When speaking to God, it’s important not to limit what His response might be. If you are expecting His answer to address something specific, or to tell you what you want to hear, you may miss what He has to say. That’s why one of my favorite questions to ask God is, “What do you want me to know about that?” Unlike many other questions that start with why, how or when, this question is not leading, or narrow. It leaves room for God to connect with the heart of your questions. Remember, He knows our thoughts and ways better than we do ourselves.
3. Line it up with His Word
All scripture is inspired by God, and God will never contradict what He has previously said in His written word. Consider the spirit of the law, not just the letter of the law. What is the heart behind what God is saying in his Word? Let that bring enlightenment to what you’ve heard as you’re listening for God’s voice. The Holy Spirit will only tell you to do things that give you a more abundant life.
The benefit of learning how to hear from God and discern His voice is that you can skip past all of the other confusing voices in your head and tune in directly to Him. However, when it comes to deeper issues, it may be helpful to go through the process of sorting them out with someone else who can assist you. At Agave Sozo in Chandler, we see our ministry as coming alongside of Christian counseling. While we don’t claim to replace Christian counseling, we facilitate encounters with God where wounds are healed, strongholds are broken, truth is revealed, and unhealthy “doors” of the soul can be closed in a matter of minutes, rather than taking years. If you’re feeling stuck or in need of a little help on your journey, schedule an appointment with us today.