Do you want to know one of the biggest keys to hearing God’s voice?
Obey what you hear.
Start with Scripture. It’s God-breathed. It’s His heart on the page. If you aren’t obeying what you read there, you won’t hear Him correctly in other ways.
The more I obey His voice, the more I hear Him. It is possible to ignore His voice so often that it soon fades away. Even if it’s difficult or uncomfortable. My obedience is just a natural response to love. I love God, and I love hearing His voice. His voice is everything to me. I don’t want to lose that connection. So I make every effort to obey. Not out of fear, but out of love. I love Him so much and feel so loved by Him that I want to strengthen the intimacy by walking in obedience.
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. – John 14:23-26
I find that when I am struggling most to obey His voice, I’ve fallen away from love. My focus has shifted to religious duty rather than love and adoration. It is often a sign that I’ve allowed fear to take over. But perfect love casts out all fear. So, when I’m struggling to obey, I ask Him for a fresh revelation of His love for me and I take a stand against fear.
Sometimes, before I go out in public, I’ll ask God if He has a message He wants me to deliver to someone I don’t know. He will often put an image in my mind of a shirt in a particular color. I will get a general impression of someone either male or female, and perhaps another fact about them. This all can feel like it’s just my own imagination, but I’ve learned to trust my thoughts in this kind of scenario. Sometimes I will get a strong picture or impression of a person and not be able to find them that day. Was I wrong, or was it a meeting for another day? I’ve experienced both outcomes. It can be scary to hunt for a person that God has highlighted to your mind, and then approach them. But it’s thrilling to partner with His Spirit to touch a person’s heart. Most of the time, the person is very receptive and it often makes them cry and touches them deeply. The few times I’ve experienced a person being unreceptive to God’s heart for them, it’s been hard for me at first. But then I’ve felt the comfort and pleasure of the Father wash over me. He affirms me for being brave. Hearing Him love on me builds me back up. He makes everything okay when I’m willing to do crazy things in obedience!
I’ve enjoyed hearing God’s voice in new ways in recent years. He speaks to me through all five of my senses. There are certain smells that are so off-putting that I sometimes feel there is a demonic presence nearby. I don’t fully understand it, but I pray briefly and take authority over the space, and the smell goes away. There have been other times where I have smelled sweet fragrances in the air, and it’s been a way that God has revealed something beautiful to me about a person or situation.
Sometimes I have dreams that are from God. I am no expert on prophetic dreams, by any means, but it’s yet another way that a person can hear from God. When I have a strong dream I will ask Him about it the next morning, and he’ll let me know whether it was from Him, or just indigestion. If I have a dream that I feel is from God, but I don’t know what it means, I ask questions. As I sit in the secret place and listen, he will often reveal the dream’s meaning to me all at once. Sometimes, he unfolds the revelation little by little, as I discuss it with a friend or continue to pray into it. Sometimes colors show up strongly in my dreams. God knows I love colors and they are a significant way I hear from him through visions and dreams. Some of my most memorable dreams have caused me to take action that I would not have otherwise, such as entering deep intercession for a friend, or being prompted to vote when I had once felt noncommittal.
Because I steward most of what I hear from Him in writing, it is so encouraging to go back and read what God was speaking to me in other seasons. I cannot remember everything I hear from Him, so having it written down is priceless to me. I can look back and often see themes developing over time, as well as countless answered prayers.
I hear God speak to me through other people, too. I try to either write down or record on my phone every prophetic word that someone else gives me. I give words from other people the same test I’ve given my own words: Does it sound like my Father’s voice or what He would say? Does it match up with the Bible? Does the Holy Spirit within me testify to the truth of it?
I hear Him speak to me through His beautiful creation. I hear His voice in music. I can be driving along and hear Him speak to me through something on the radio. Once you start listening, you realize that He never stops talking.
Sometimes I am in awe of the fact that the God of the universe wants to speak to me. With all that He’s got going on, with all the people in this world He’s paying attention to, somehow He still wants to speak to me. He’s not just interested in one-sided conversations. He wants intimate friendship with me, where we converse back and forth. Can you imagine a friendship where someone only ever talked to you, but never wanted to hear what you had to say? It would be difficult to get close to someone like that.
How incredible to realize that we have a God who is not only a powerful Creator, but a loving Father who wants His children to know how loved they are by Him!
If you are a follower of Christ who is uncertain whether you can hear God’s voice, or uncertain whether He speaks to you, I want to encourage you with a few things:
- You probably hear him more than you realize. Sometimes it’s simpler than we think: thoughts that are good, noble, and true; an urge to pray for someone; or even just reading a Scripture that impacts your heart.
- He is always speaking to you. Not just to people in general, but to you. He is not playing hard-to-get, but rather giving you an opportunity to practice and grow in your abilities to hear him.
- Worship is the very best pre-cursor to hearing Him. I have found that the very best way to set the stage for hearing from Him is to spend time worshiping Him first. But we don’t worship Him in order to get something from Him; we worship Him simply because He’s worthy and He deserves it.
- The more time I spend with Him, the more I begin to think like Him. Knowing the Word means to know His character, His personality, His values, His voice. It becomes hard to mistake lies for the truth when I know the truth so well. He is giving me the mind of Christ.
- I ask the Holy Spirit questions when I don’t understand something. Most of the biggest revelations I’ve received from God have come as the result of me asking Him questions and waiting for the answer to pop into my mind.
- He wants you to hear from Him even more than you want it. Ask and you will receive. Don’t hesitate to start praying for an increase in your ability to recognize and obey His voice.
THE LIES I BELIEVED
- God only speaks through the Bible
- God only speaks to “the holy few”
- Prophesy is only foretelling the future
- God’s voice is condemning
THE TRUTH THAT SET ME FREE
- God speaks many different ways – John 16:13; Heb 1:1-5; Isaiah 30:21; John 10:27; 1 John 2:27; Mark 1:11; Rev 1:10; 1 Kings 19:12-13
- God wants to talk to me – Jeremiah 33:3; John 10:27; Gen 3:8-9
- Prophecy is hearing the voice of God and sharing it – 1 Cor 14:3; Heb 13:22; Romans 1:2
- Unconfessed sin, judgement and offense hinder hearing God’s voice – 1 Peter 3:7; Psalm 66:18; 1 John 1:7-9
- God’s voice is love – 1 John 4:8; 1 John 4:16
PRAYER FOR BREAKTHROUGH
If you’d like to grow in your ability to hear God’s voice, pray something like what I’ve written below. It’s not a formula, and feel free to use your own words; but as you seek more of Him, He will be found by you. Find a time and place where you can be alone and quiet. You might have your Bible and a journal and pen with you to record anything you sense God might be saying. Remember to be open to a myriad of different ways you could hear from Him. I often read the Bible or worship first to make sure my mindset is in line with His. Sometimes a great thing to ask initially is how God feels about you. It will be kinder than you think. Write down what you hear or perceive. If you don’t get any pictures, thoughts, images, or ideas, don’t lose heart and don’t give up. Keep trying. God speaks in many different ways, including even in dreams as we sleep. If you’d like to see breakthrough in the area of hearing God’s voice, you could pray something like this:
Thank you for wanting to speak to me. I want to hear Your voice. Please search my heart for anything that is not of you…reveal to me any unconfessed sin, any offense or judgment I am carrying. I don’t want anything to hinder or distort what you want to say to me.
Holy Spirit, I am listening. Please speak to me.
Lord, thank you for speaking to me. Thank you for loving me. I ask now that you would increase my ability to hear and recognize your voice. In Jesus’ name I bind the devil from having any influence over my thoughts. I reject all lies and only accept Your truth.
Encourage me with your Presence. I want to know your voice intimately. I want to have conversations with you and be your friend. Help me to talk less and listen more! Please activate my ability to hear you throughout both day and night.
In Jesus’ name,
*This is the sixth post in a blog series I’m calling, “Hearing God’s Voice”. Each child of God has a unique history with God, and unique ways to relate to him. I thought it might be fun to share with you some of my journey of learning to hear God’s voice, and the ways that’s impacted my life and that of others, too. Join me each week as I share stories from my life that will hopefully encourage and inspire you to listen to him more – because he wants to speak to you!
To read previous posts in the series:
Part 5 – The Mind of Christ