God is always talking to his children but sometimes we’re not tuned in. Most importantly, we must test and confirm what we hear so we aren’t led astray.
- Prepare to hear:
- God talks in seven different ways:
- Test the spirits
- Get confirmation
Last time, we talked about how to pray. Today, we talk about how to hear God. It starts with preparation, understanding the numerous ways he responds, and finally, testing and confirming his responses.
Prepare to hear:
- Believe you’ll hear back (Hebrews11:6).
- Be patient (Psalms 27:14).
- Make time to hear. The best times to hear (for me):
- Early morning
- Late night
- Before a big meal
- During a fast
- Set up a quiet place.
- Record what you hear.
- Pen and pocket notebook
- Use your smartphone
God talks in seven different ways:
1. God speaks in an audible voice.
We see this many times in the Bible. But I’d say this is not likely as much today, especially for the saint because God communicates with his children “spirit to spirit” as revealed in John 4:24. Old Testament followers of God were not born again. Therefore, they had no spiritual connection and had to hear God audibly.
The “still small voice” found in First Kings 19:11-13 reveals that God is not always dramatic when he talks. There, he spoke to Elijah in a gentle whisper, but at other times he spoke to man through fire, whirlwinds, and earthquakes (Job 38:1, Exodus 19:18, 1 Samuel 2:10). God is not confined to one kind of voice, but sometimes he speaks gently; this is why it’s important to set aside quiet time to hear his voice.
2. God speaks from an inner voice.
The inner voice is not audible, rather a voice you hear from within. Because we are to worship God in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), he may communicate the same way: spirit to spirit. The inner voice is God’s spirit talking to your spirit. It can be as clear as someone whispering in your ear. Some have reported a deep masculine voice, other times, it sounds like your own voice; yet you know it’s not you.
3. God speaks through his people.
Sometimes God uses his children to respond to his children. In times past he spoke to people through his prophets, then his son Christ Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-2), and now the Holy Spirit through his believers (1 Timothy 4:1,2).
The Body of Christ is structured in a way that we need each other. No one person has all the answers. Sometimes, asking another believer will reveal God’s response and other times, you’ll hear it through a sermon on the subject.
4. God speaks through the Bible.
The Holy Scriptures are the main source God speaks through. The Bible has an answer for almost anything—it’s no ordinary book. Jesus said his words were “spirit and life” (John 6:63).
Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect [mature], thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
When you’re looking for an answer from God, search his Word the Bible first. Ask what does the Holy Scriptures have to say about my situation? There are so many online tools like the Bible topical search site: www.openbible.info that can return answers from God.
5. God speaks through visions and dreams.
Acts 2:17 says, “It shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”
We see Joseph get a dream from God to take Mary as his wife, and later, to flee with baby Jesus and Mary to Egypt (Matthew 1:20, 2:13); and Peter was given a vision about including the Gentiles in the kingdom of God (Acts 10:9-19).
God does respond through visions and dreams. However, it can become dangerous to seek after these forms of communication when God wants to speak another way.
It’s best to let God respond his way and accept it. He may talk in a vision or dream, or he may speak through any other way on this list. Learn more about seeking a visitation from God.
6. God speaks through inner peace or the lack of it.
Second Thessalonians 3:16 says, “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”
Inner peace is the mark of a maturing saint. The closer you are to God the more inner peace you have despite surrounding situations. When God is in a decision, things seem to go smoothly and peacefully.
However, there are people, places, and things that can upset that inner peace. Take that as a warning that something isn’t right. Your spirit may be troubled if you’re moving outside of God’s will:
- It feels like bubbles in the gut.
- It feels like nervousness when there’s nothing to be nervous about.
- It feels like extreme disgust, frustration or unrest about a person’s behavior, place or thing.
7. God speaks through circumstances.
Proverbs 10:22 says, “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.”
When God is in a decision you believe is his will, circumstances seem to work in your favor. Everything seems to move smoothly, flow together, and work out.
However, if barriers keep rising, constant rejection, you feel like you’re being “blocked” and there seems to be difficulty in pursuing the course of action you believe is God’s will, it may not be his will.
Test the spirits
After you believe you’ve heard the inner voice of God or godly advice from a teacher or pastor, you need to test the spirit. 1 John 4:1-6 says,
1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error (1 John 4:1-6).
A “spirit” includes God, man, demons, or angels (good or bad). We try (or test) the spirits by asking:
- Is this person accepted by the world?
- Does what I hear align with the Scriptures or the world’s philosophy?
- Is it consistent with God ways? (you have to know his ways)
How NOT to test the spirits
There’s a formula held by some that teach if any spirit that says, “Yes” to the question, “Did Jesus Christ come in the flesh?” it’s safe to follow.
One would ask this question to the inner voice they heard or a traveling teacher. This weak test will work for some spirits, but others will simply lie.
Those who stick to this formula continue by saying that evil spirits aren’t able to declare that Jesus came in the flesh. This is rubbish and found nowhere in scripture. The devil is a liar. He’ll lie about anything. This kind of formula is not the best. Learn more about avoiding deception.
Finally, we must get confirmation. Second Corinthians 13:1 says, “…Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” See also John 8:17 and Deuteronomy 19:15.
There’s a principle in scripture that speaks to accepting a charge against someone, a rumor, or something you heard if repeated more than once.
Likewise, when hearing from God, it’s wise to get confirmation at least two or three times to be sure the reply was from God and that you understood clearly. You get confirmation by asking for it and looking for God to speak in any of the other seven ways mentioned on the list.
If you find the response you receive is from God, write it down and hold on to his word. There will be continued confirmation as you obey God.
If what you’ve heard turned out to be not from God, reject it and peruse God until you’re confident he’s advising you. Write down his response, hold on to his word, and obey him.