And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
Did you know that God is speaking all of the time? Did you know that He is speaking to you? God speaks in different ways: through His word, through the Holy Spirit, and through prayer. He is always speaking because He expects us to be listening; He wants us to hear. He has something to say to us.
In a relationship, it’s important to take time to listen to what the other person has to say; otherwise we never really know the thoughts and feelings of that person. The same is true about our relationship with the Creator. Most times when we pray we tend to do all the talking. We rarely quiet ourselves to listen to what He wants to say to us, and so we don’t come to know Him intimately, the way He wants to be known.
Usually when God speaks to me it’s to tell me He loves me or to encourage me. Sometimes He gives me direction, sometimes He corrects me. Sometimes I have questions for Him and He responds with an answer. And sometimes God shows me something He is about to do through a prophetic image or word for myself or for others. Usually, I receive an image first, and then I ask questions about what the image means until I am sure I have the understanding. This process may take days or even weeks. I always seek God for corresponding verses of scripture to support what I believe God has given me.
God wants to speak to every one of His children, and He will speak to you if you take the time to listen. Your process may be different from mine. We all hear from God in different ways depending on our personalities, natural abilities, and spiritual gifts. The key is to trust that you are hearing from God. Jesus said, “…everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened…If you then…know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7)
The first step is to learn how God speaks to you. Some people hear an audible voice. Some have a sense of what God is saying but don’t hear actual words. Some receive verses of scripture. Others see in the spirit, receiving images or visions. And some of hear God in all of these different ways – or in ways I haven’t mentioned. A dedicated journal is an essential tool in this discerning process. It will require a lot of faith and patience to discern God’s voice at first, but I promise that if you persevere, you will not regret the time you spend seeking Him, so be patient.
Even if you’re not a believer but you want to know whether or not God is real, I encourage you to give Him a chance. Ask Him a question, and then wait for His answer.
Here are three secrets that can help you to hear Him.
- The Secret Place
When Jesus taught His followers to pray, He said: “Go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.” (Matthew 6:6)
When we go into our room and shut the door, we are shutting out the distractions of the world around us – unless we take our smart phone with us. We are intentionally setting ourselves apart and setting aside time to meet with God. It requires stillness, which can be difficult for many of us, but it’s necessary to quiet our minds and our bodies if we want to hear from God and sense His presence. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
In 1 Kings 19, after he narrowly escaped the murderous reach of Jezebel who was determined to kill him, the great prophet Elijah cried out to God. He was deeply discouraged and depressed. God told him to go up on the mountain and hide himself in a cave. And as Elijah waited, the Lord passed by. First there is a violet windstorm, and then an earthquake, and then a fire, but God was not in any of these things. Then, Elijah heard a faint whisper, what the Bible calls a “still small voice”. If you look up the meaning of these words in the original Hebrew, what Elijah heard was very intimate sound. Like a groan or a sigh that someone makes when they are caught up in wonder, or love and intimacy.
I believe that God wanted to encourage Elijah, and remind him that He was near and that He cared. And His response to Elijah’s cry strengthened him. I used to think that when God spoke to me it would be like a lightning strike or an earthquake or a violent wind, but it’s usually a whisper, just as it was for Elijah, and I have to remain still in order to discern it.
2. Believe that God wants to speak to you
God wants a close relationship with you. He wants you to know His heart and His thoughts towards you. He wants to tell you how much He loves you. But if you don’t believe that God can or wants to speak to you, then you won’t hear Him. Before I developed the ability to hear God speak, I believed that others who claimed that God spoke to them were embellishing or exaggerating in order to make a point or give their stories more impact. Because I had never heard His voice I didn’t think it was possible. But a part of me wondered and longed for that kind of relationship with God, and my longing was all the opening that God needed.
It’s okay to have doubts, just don’t let doubt close your mind. Keep it open to the possibility that God has something He wants to say to you and you will begin to hear from Him. The secret is to seek Him and keep on seeking Him. He spoke a promise through the prophet Jeremiah – who heard His voice – saying, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
- Believe that you can hear Him speak
Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice…” (John 10:27)
Every one of us has the ability to hear God, whether we believe in Him or not. It’s built in; He made us that way. And those who have received His Son, Jesus, are His children, His lambs, and we know the voice of our Shepherd. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
When God speaks to you in the “still, small voice”, you will most likely doubt that it was Him. But if you have asked Him to speak to you, then believe in faith that He will. Anytime I doubt I’ve heard from the Lord I ask Him, “Was that You, Lord?” If it was God He will bring the word or the picture back to me and confirm that it was from Him. If He doesn’t bring it back I keep seeking.
God will confirm His word to you too, if you ask Him. He will give you a scripture verse – I always seek Him for confirmation in scripture. Or he may use someone you know to speak the very same thing you heard Him say. You might hear what He told you in a sermon, or a song, or find it in a book. But however God confirms His word to you, you will know that He has spoken.
Our Heavenly Father knows and understands us. And He wants us to know and understand Him. He wants to whisper words of love and encouragement and comfort to soothe and strengthen us.
On the night before He died, Jesus told His disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Jesus’ words are for us today. He loved us that much, that He willingly laid down His life, taking our sin upon Himself on the cross so that we could have uninhibited access to and intimacy with the Father. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus made it possible for us to know our Father in Heaven and to hear His voice as He speaks of His love for us.
Make some time today to go into your room and shut the door, and ask God to speak to you. It doesn’t take a special gift, all it takes is the desire to draw near and hear His voice. The Creator of All Things wants an intimate relationship with you, and if you seek Him, that relationship will transform your life and circumstances in amazing ways.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you! (James 4:8)