I’ve had a bunch of conversations with people lately about hearing God’s voice. It seems to come up a lot as a result of our baby story, when I talk about how I felt God telling me to surrender my desire for a baby to Him. And then lots of people say, “I don’t really hear God’s voice.”
This makes me sad, because I think we hear God’s voice a lot more than we realize sometimes, but we miss it.
I’m reading an awesome, life-changing kind of book right now, called Can You Hear Me? What I’m realizing as I read it is that we each have this set idea of what it would be like for God to “speak” – we have expectations, and when an experience with Him is different than what we looked for, it’s easy to think He doesn’t speak.
But there are so many ways to “hear” Him – or sense or feel Him. I’ve never actually heard an audible voice – I suddenly just knew in my mind what He was saying. In the beginning, I thought these were my own thoughts. But as time went by, I began to realize it was actually God, putting those thoughts into my mind, my soul, and I started to recognize Him more.
Hearing God For the First Time
I can still clearly remember the first time He “spoke” to me – I had just started dating a boy I met at camp, and while I was doing my devotions one day, I got a very, very strong sense that I should break up with him. It was a thought that popped into my head out of nowhere, and I remember thinking, “What?! Why would I think that? Why would I do that?! We just started dating! I’m not some fickle girl who can’t stay in a relationship longer than two weeks! I’m not breaking up with him!”
So I didn’t. And three months later, I believe God told me again to break up with my boyfriend. I was doing homework in the dorm lounge at Bible school, and suddenly, I just knew I was supposed to end the relationship. But I didn’t.
A month later, my boyfriend came home from college, and painfully dumped me. That rejection hurt so badly, and yet looking back on the whole thing, I could see how God had tried to save me from that pain. If I had listened, it would have been disappointing for me to end the relationship, but I would have been spared much heartache.
I would say God “spoke” to me. But He didn’t really speak – I just knew in my mind what He was saying.
I think that kind of thing happens often, but we pass it off as our own thoughts or conscience, or a random idea that popped in our minds.
The Ways in Which He Speaks to Us
Brad Jersak, the author of Can You Hear Me?, lists lots of ways in which God “speaks” to us:
- Anyone who is a Christian has “heard” God’s call in their heart
- Many people hear Him while reading the Bible – a certain verse will jump out, or lead to a convicting thought, or just seem to speak into the right situation, at the right time
- Listening to a preacher or a teacher, and feeling like the message is meant just for you
- Through a song, experiencing a really close, touching, beautiful moment with God through worship
- Being convicted of sin
- Feeling a strong need to pray for someone, or suddenly thinking of someone specifically, or thinking positive, encouraging thoughts about someone that could be shared and would bring blessing into that person’s life
These things have happened to me for most of my adult life, but I never used to clarify them as “God speaking”.
As soon as I started giving Him the credit for these small, everyday things, I became so much more aware of God communicating with me, each and every day!
The more I listened for Him, the more I heard Him.
And then….things got really crazy, cause I started asking Him to tell me things! I asked Him to speak to me through Scripture, or to give me guidance as I prayed for things. Suddenly, everything started changing.
So when people say to me, “God doesn’t speak to me”, I want to say, “YES, HE DOES!!!” He speaks to you through nature, and other people, and the Bible. That might not be what we expect, but once we stop expecting certain things, I think we start recognizing Him in everything.
The Fear of Hearing Wrong
I was terribly afraid I’d get it wrong – which is completely possible. It’s very scary to say, “God spoke to me. This is what He said…” What if I’m wrong? I’m human, and I mess things up, and so to play it safe, I held back, even when I felt pretty sure that God had spoken to me.
But one day, a verse came to mind:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
I suddenly felt this desire just to trust God. Yes, I might hear wrong, but isn’t God big enough to correct me? And if I’m continually going back to Him, and trying to hear and follow Him every day, can’t He speak again, and say, “Hey, you got it wrong last time! Let me say that again!” If He can convict me of sin, can’t He convict me of other things? Like being wrong about what I heard?
Can I be humble enough to admit that I might get it wrong? I think as long as I’m continually going back to Him, and willing to admit I mess up sometimes, He will be able to correct a soft, teachable heart.
I decided to try trusting Him. And the big thing is this: Pretty much everything I’ve heard from Him has been something good and kind and loving and awesome. If, by some chance, I heard wrong, doing nice things for people, or saying encouraging words, or praying for people, can’t ever be a really big mistake. I’m willing to do those things, even if I made a mistake, and God didn’t actually tell me to do it.
So I’ll keep practicing, and keep listening, and the fear gets quieter. Maybe that’s because I get more excited. I keep having these awesome experiences of God saying things to me, or other people around me, and it’s fantastic. It’s addicting – I never want to go back to the way I was living before.
And I really believe that God is speaking to you. Often. How amazing that He comes after us, and pursues us, and whispers these things into our minds!
Let Him speak to you! Ask Him what He wants to say. I bet He’ll surprise you!;)