God's voice can come in a loud boom, but it usually doesn't. God's voice can come out of the sky, but it usually doesn't. God's voice is Spirit - and it resounds with your spirit, as deep calls out to deep. Your spirit is the part of you, high above everyday emotions, decisions, logic or reasoning. Your spirit is that part of you that makes you uniquely, undeniably you. This is the 'you' that God speaks to. This is where you can tune in and learn to know God's voice...
There's a very famous scene in the Hollywood Blockbuster movie 'Finding Nemo' when Marlin, the clown fish Dad, frantically searching the ocean for his only son, Nemo, asks a wise old turtle how he'll know that his son is ready to grow up and be independent. The laid back surfer-dude father turtle dopily says 'you'll just know, you know?'.
This scene always reminds me of when people ask me how I know I've heard God's voice. "How do you know it's God and not just your own thoughts", they'll ask -often when seeking God's voice for their own situation or breakthrough. There is certainly an element of 'you'll just know, you know?' (and this is Biblical!) but I accept that's not particularly helpful advice when you're trying to learn to hear God's voice.
There are lots of scriptures which tells us 5 very simple facts about God's voice.
1 - He is always speaking to us, in one way or another. If we can't hear Him, that's down to a hearing issue at our end. God is not silent. We do not have to persuade God to speak to us. (Romans 1:19-21, Job 33:14, Psalms 32:8-9, Acts 10:19, Romans 10:17)
2 - If we are truly His followers, then we'll know it's His voice. There is an intrinsic familiarity about His voice to us when we hear it, because He is our creator, our Father. (John 10:27, Matthew 10:20, Hebrews 4:12)
3- Jesus sent His spirit to be with us - so God is with us, everywhere, all the time. We don't have to go looking for Him. We don't need to abandon our lives in search of a special Holy place in which to meet with God. You are that special Holy place! But we might have to make some changes so that we can tune in to hear what He is saying. (John 14:16-17, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Isaiah 30:21)
4 - God whispers. He doesn't shout. He won't compete for your time or attention. Why would He? He's God after all. We're not doing Him a favour by letting Him speak into our lives and help us! The onus is on us to listen carefully and receive His words. (1 Kings 19:12-13, Jeremiah 33:3, Rev 3:22)
5 - We might need the help of others to understand what He is saying, or what we should do in response to what He is saying. (John 8:47, Acts 13:2, Ephesians 1:18, 2 Tim 3:16-17)
God is a speaking God. He has good things to say and we are commanded to seek Him to be able to follow His will. But how do we, practically, do this? How do we know God's voice?
Think about your spouse, or your best friend. The phone goes, you don't have time to see the number or the name on the screen but you pick up and a familiar sound says 'Hey, it's me! Where are you?' (why do we always ask where the other person is when we call on mobile phones, this always amuses me! But I digress....). You don't need to ask who it is. You don't need to see their ID. You don't need to hand the phone to a special adviser and say 'is that really my husband??'. No. You just know, you know? How do you know? Because you've shared hours, days, weeks, possibly years together and their unique voice has become so ingrained in your heart and mind that there's no need to even consciously ask yourself who it is. You just know their voice.
Wouldn't it be amazing if you could have this level of intimate knowledge with the voice of God? Well, the amazingly, mind-blowing news is - you can!
All you have to do is get to know Him! Spend time with Him. Listen to Him. Learn about His like and dislikes. Seek to understand what matters to Him and what His character is like. Just as you would with any other relationship. Get to know Him.
How do we get to know an invisible, immortal God? Let's turn again to the Bible to find the answers. There are (at least) 3 keys to getting closer to God to get to know His voice.
Key #1 - Ask Him to be your Father
It sounds obvious, but there are many millions of people who would say that they are 'Christian' because they've been brought up in a Christian culture, or family. They would say that they believe in God, but they don't have a personal relationship with Him. They know He exists but they've never heard His voice. He's like a long lost uncle that they know exists, have heard all about, but never met. Perhaps that's where you're at? Perhaps you've never felt a connection of real relationship. You need to invite Him to be your Father, not just your Creator.
You need to admit that you are a created being, and that you need to be reconnected to your Creator. You can do this right now by asking Jesus - God's Son - to stand in the gap between you and God, and be your Saviour. This means that you are asking God to be your boss and handing over the keys of your life to Him. You might have prayed like this in the past but then nothing much happened. Pray it again. Ask Jesus to be your King. Plug in and connect to your Maker. You'll soon be hearing His voice. You can join our amazing community of God-seekers for 24/7 fellowship and support in your faith journey. This is my personal invitation for you to join the community group here.
Key #2 - Spend Quality Time with Him
If you're a parent, as God is, how much time would you like your grown-up kids to spend talking with you? Probably not every minute of every day as they have their lives to lead - but if they never called, never visited, never took time to get together with you - you might feel a bit neglected! No relationship survives emotional distance, even if you have to be separated by geography. If you've ever had a friendship break down because one, or both, of you just 'moved on' emotionally and you drifted apart, you'll know that the very first thing that happens is that you start spending less and less time together. Get close enough to hear God's voice - which we know from the scriptures above is a whisper, not a shout - means spending time with Him.
You can spend time with God in a hundred different ways, and here are my favourites:
These are the places I go and this is the rhythm God and I have got into so that I can seek His will and hear from Him. This intimacy has come as a result of being open, willing and making time. You need to quiet-down the busyness of your day and make time and space. God won't compete with your schedule.
Key #3 - Learn About Him
One way to spend time with God is to open your Bible and read about Jesus' life. Jesus literally personifies God. So whilst God is invisible to the human eye, He did us all a massive favour by turning up in person - so that we could physically encounter Him. Those of us alive today didn't have the awesome privilege of meeting Jesus in the flesh, but those who did wrote it all down so that we could grasp the wonder and excitement of what the Son of God looked like, sounded like, spoke about, spend His time on.
Read the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - all telling their eyewitness account from their own world-view. Luke, the doctor, focuses on the healing powers of Jesus and the miraculous adventures they witnessed. John, the big softie, focuses on the loving, caring, passionate nature of Christ. Read it for yourself. Picture being there, like a fly on the wall. There's nothing quite like the Gospels to paint a picture in your mind of what our God is like. There are countless study books, commentaries, Christian books and videos for you to use to learn more about God too. There has never been such abundant access to information about God. Make a commitment to learn more about Him. Start with a simple Bible study, such as our own She31 Study '31 Names of God' [Find out more here and get your free 32-page Study workbook and access to our 24/7 Study Group] which is a beautiful, inspiring look at some of the characteristics of God. It's the perfect place to start - or grow - in getting to know who He is.
Invite Him to be your Father, not just your Creator.
God Speaks: Spirit to Spirit
God's voice can come in a loud boom, but it usually doesn't. God's voice can come out of the sky, but it usually doesn't. God's voice is the voice of a Spirit - and it resounds with your spirit. Your spirit is the part of you, high above everyday emotions, decisions, logic or reasoning. Your spirit is that part of you that makes you uniquely, undeniably you. Your spirit is the part of you that is dead, until you first encounter the living God and He breathes life into you. You come alive. You're re-born. The world bursts into colours and everything is new. Human beings can have soul without their spirit being alive. This is why people can do amazing, benevolent, loving things - because they have soul - but their spirit is not yet alive - so they can still hate God. People can have deep, profound emotions and create beautiful art and music, and yet still be disconnected from God. So before you hear God's voice - you must know Him.
You must be connected through this new birth before you can call Him 'Father'.
How To Hear god's voice
As you mature in your faith, you will hear God in different ways. But here are 3 simple ways to know God's voice:
1 - Through the Word of God - the Bible
The Bible is our primary source of information about the human story. It tells us who God is, why were are here, and how to live our lives to the glory of God. So when you want to hear God - this is your first port of call. By getting to know and understand more about who He is, you start to get to know Him. Before long, you know what He would approve, or disapprove of. You know what makes His heart glad - and what hurts Him. This gives you what you need to follow the general direction of God for your life. But for your own unique situations and circumstances, it takes prayer - a live connection.
2 - Through Prayer and Meditation
There are literally hundreds of scripture about prayer - which is simply talking with God. I say talking WITH God and not just talking TO God - because you want to leave space in your prayer life for God to talk back to you! Meditation is about chewing a word or verse over and over, and as you do, your mind starts to see new things about God, about your situation that you never saw before. Learn more about meditating on God's word in this blog post. Suddenly, your answer is staring you in the face. Your spirit seems to 'tune in' to God as your pray and ask Him to speak to you and suddenly, you're picking up sounds and signals you never heard before. Thoughts come into your mind on how to solve that problem. Ideas seem to arrive as if from 'nowhere' about how to move forward where you've been stuck. It's mysterious and almost indescribable - you have to try it for yourself, be patient with yourself and with God. Learn to wait quietly for His voice.
3 - Through Wise Counsel
In an ideal world, we would all simply and clearly know that God is speaking to us and go on about our business. But more often that not, as we read our Bible and pray and meditate on the Word, we come away with a sense, a feeling, an impression. We're not sure. We're not definite that it was God speaking, and not our own brain firing off random thoughts. This is the very reason that God sets us in families and fellowships. called church. Small groups, Bible studies, even online Christian communities like She31 are great places just to sound out what you believe God is saying and get some mature, wise counsel. Especially if you are seeking God's voice on a major decision such as a new career, starting a business, moving home or starting or ending a relationship - that it's an absolute must, and it's just wise, to speak to someone who you know hears from God. Ask them to pray for you. Tell them what the question is. Then let them go away and pray too. You'll be amazed when you come back together how God can speak so clearly to you both with the same answer!
I've been walking with God for 22 years and I still regularly seek and value the input and counsel of mature Christian friends. The Bible talks about there being 'wisdom in many counsellors' (Proverbs 15:22) and this is a safety net for us because when we're so close to a situation - the fresh eyes and spirit of another Christian is an incredible blessing. And even when you're pretty sure God has spoken to you - it's OK to ask for confirmation! In fact, it's wise. Tell your small group leader, pastor or prayer partner what you believe God is saying - and be teachable and open to them coming back to disagree.
when god is silent
There will still be times when you just can't seem to hear from Him. There may even be periods when you feel like God is being silent. God's Word says that He is never silent. (Hebrews 13:5, Acts 17:28). No loving Father would not withhold His voice from His kids (wouldn't that be cruel?) but what can happen is that something is interfering - blocking the 'signal'. When we feel that God is being silent - what we usually mean is that we can't hear Him. If you're in that position, check a few things to work out what the blockage might be:
If you feel like you're not hearing from God - ask a trusted friend or pastor to walk through these steps with you. They might be able to, lovingly, help you see something that could be causing the obstruction. A simple prayer - of forgiveness, repentance or humbly acknowledging what God has already said to you about the situation, will turn everything around. Now you can move forward.
Hearing God's voice is an incredibly exciting adventure. Trust your connection to God and trust that He is speaking all the time. Work on making time and space to listen and you will be amazed at how easy, with practice, it is to know His voice. Before long, you'll just know, you know?
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