Can you really hear God? Does God even speak today? We’ve read stories in the Bible about how He spoke to Moses in a burning bush. He told Noah to build an ark and promised Abraham that he would have numerous descendants.
But does He really speak to us now?
Many in the church would say God doesn’t speak anymore. That all God had to say was recorded in the Bible, and that is enough.
And we’ve probably all had encounters with people who’ve shared with us that “The Lord told me…..”, only to see them do something later or have something happen to them that just makes us scratch our heads and wonder what exactly did they hear and who were they listening to?
I hope those people haven’t tainted your willingness to listen for God to speak to you.
I believe God still speaks today. Can you imagine your husband sending you a love letter 20 or 30 years ago, you enter into a relationship, and then he never speaks to you again because he thought the letter was enough?
God is all about relationship!! He wants to be intimately connected with us, engaging with us in a back-and-forth conversation so that we can know Him better and hear what He wants us to know for our lives.
Jesus gave us a promise that we could hear Him.
The sheep hear his voice (talking about the shepherd) and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. John 10: 3b,4b ESV
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:27 ESV
I don’t think Jesus was saying that only His disciples who lived on the earth when He lived on the earth could hear His audible voice. I think He was referring to His sheep all through the ages. That we would be able to hear Him speak to us.
The promise is that we can hear His voice, we can know His voice, and that His voice will talk to us personally by name. So there has to be a way for us to hear and to understand what He is saying.
There’s no scientific studies that I know of to prove God speaks. I wish I could tell you that if you only did this formula of Step A, B, and then C, you would hear everything you’d ever want, and then you’d have proof.
Hearing God might mean, like everything else in our walk with Him,
that we will need to have faith.
I’d like to share with you some of the ways I’ve heard God’s voice. Maybe you’ve been on the fence, wondering if He really speaks. Or maybe you have thoughts or think you hear things, but you just don’t know if it’s God or not. I know. This has been a huge struggle for me because I have never wanted to “put words in God’s mouth.”
But I was encouraged to be attentive. To be tuned in. I’ve learned to be intentional. Most of all, I’ve learned that I have to believe that He will actually speak.
Before I share with you some ways I’ve heard God for myself, I want to give a disclaimer. I’ve never heard God’s voice audibly.
In Psalm 29, it talks about how God’s audible voice affects creation. The earth quakes, and His voice over the waters is powerful and majestic. Maybe like this clip from http://www.freesfx.co.uk/sfx/waterfalls
Just because I haven’t heard Him audibly doesn’t mean He never speaks audibly today. I believe people when they say they’ve heard Him. But I think if they did hear His audible voice, it would have to be an earth-quake moment in their lives, shaking them in a life-changing way.
I would love to share a few of the ways I feel like God does speak to me. This journey of learning to recognize His voice is incredibly exciting for me, and I hope it will be for you, too.
God Does Speak Through Scripture
First and foremost, God does speaks to me through Scripture. He has laid out His heart and His overarching purposes and His beautiful story of redemption. It is His communication. It is His truth.
Everything depends on His written word. It is the standard from which we compare all other forms of Him speaking. I use it to determine if what I hear is accurate.
There is so much truth in it – for today. So much wisdom, guidance, encouragement, and hope. And I believe He uses it to speak to me. (See here why I love it so much!)
Have you ever read a passage and had one verse, one line, maybe even one word just seem to jump out at you? Not in the sense of literally seeing the words move around on the page, although you might see that!
What I mean is there a quickening inside of you? Does your spirit respond? I have found this happening almost every time I read the Bible, and especially if I ask the Lord to speak to me as I read.
Something will be highlighted in my spirit that lets me know He’s pointing to some truth for me to know. It makes reading and studying Scripture such a delight when I know He’s going to speak personally to me what He wants me to hear.
And let me be quick to say that He never speaks in condemnation!! Even if He is convicting me of something, it is so I can see what I’m missing in my journey of being more like Him. He speaks only in the positive. There is never any condemnation for those who are His. (Romans 8:1)
I hope you can hear Him speak through His word.
He Speaks Through Other People
I have been amazed at the number of times I have been talking to someone and hear them say something that I knew just had to come from God. And oddly enough, it’s almost always when they have no idea that they’re doing it!
They’re not trying to preach to me. They might not even be talking about God in the first place.
But something they say perks up my attention and quickens my spirit, and I just know this was God speaking. It’s usually about something He and I are already talking about, but the other person doesn’t know that!
Often He speaks through a message I might hear at church or from a sermon or conference session I listen to online.
I can’t tell you the times that I’ll be listening to a sermon that has absolutely nothing to do with what I might be learning with God at the time, and then right in the middle of the sermon, there will be a statement that just blows my socks off with it’s relevance for what I am learning!
I’ve learned that when I’m listening to another human being, I pay close attention when my spirit responds. If I find myself thinking “Wait a minute! There’s something significant about what I just heard”, I know it just might be God speaking and I want to pay attention.
God Often Speaks in Themes
No, we’re not in English class again! What I mean by themes is that I often hear things along a similar vein, a similar subject. In other words, maybe I’m studying a certain topic. Maybe it’s about healing or about overcoming. Pretty soon, if I’m serious about studying this concept, I start hearing it everywhere.
I hear it in sermons, in songs, in things I read. And it’s not that I’m always intentionally looking to find things about that topic. It almost always catches me off guard. I won’t even be thinking about it and there it is.
I feel like that is God speaking to me. It seems like He is giving me an invitation: “Okay, if you want to study this, let’s study it together. Here’s some more things. Did you think about this? How about this idea? How about wrestling with this thought?”
It’s very encouraging when I find this happening over and over and over. To hear something out of the blue that I wasn’t expecting and find that it goes right along with the conversation in which God and I have already been engaged is beyond exciting.
It builds my faith! I know He cares and He’s listening and He’s real!!
He Speaks in the Lyrics of Songs
I love music. Music speaks to my soul like nothing else. It moves me, touching me in deep and meaningful ways.
Praise and worship music are my favorite. Often when I am singing in worship, the lyrics will grab me and suddenly, I’m reminded of something God has done for me in the past. I’ll feel His presence and be amazed at how much He loves me.
During my greatest times of grief when we lost our son Caleb, I listened over and over to a cd by Stephen Curtis Chapman that he composed after losing his daughter. The Lord spoke so much comfort to me through the words of those songs. They were truly life-giving.
And just recently, on the way to church I was praying about a fear I’d been wrestling with. I told God I was tired of it and just wanted to lay it down.
When I got to church, would you believe that the first song we sang had these lyrics:
I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.”
I didn’t know they were going to sing that song. They didn’t know I was going to pray my prayer. But God did. And He let me know He was listening, and He was speaking! Powerful stuff!
He Speaks Through the Holy Spirit in Our Minds
We can probably all recount stories of people who thought they heard God tell them something in their thoughts, and it sounded very bogus or skeptical to us. I know for most of my life, I didn’t trust that any of my thoughts could possibly be from God.
But just because people have not understood or even abused the privilege of hearing God with their minds does not mean we should throw it out the window and say it doesn’t happen!
I believe the Holy Spirit can speak in our thoughts today. I have found this to happen many times. When I’m praying about something or having a deep conversation with a friend, or maybe when I’m trying to write – sometimes there’s a thought that comes into my mind and I have to think “Where did that come from? That’s not me! That’s not the way I think or not even the vocabulary I would use. I wasn’t even thinking about that.”
Here’s the most critical thing: when I take that thought back to Scripture, I ask myself, does it look accurate? Does it line up with Scripture? Is there anything that would be opposed to Scripture in this thought?
Depending on my answers, then I can trust that He’s given me that thought. That’s Him speaking. That’s the Holy Spirit giving me that word or that phrase or that sentence or that idea.
Some people would say this process is “tuning into flow” because the Holy Spirit flows through us. When we are connected to that “flow”, He does influence our thoughts. As we talked about here, we have the mind of Christ. He wants to help us think like He does and so the Spirit wants to show us how He thinks!
My confidence to hear God grew in leaps and bounds when I listened to this teaching from Mark Virkler called “4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice”. There’s a written teaching plus free audios on this site for you to check out if you want. I highly recommend it. (I will not make any money from recommending this teaching. I just wanted to share it with you.)
He Can Speak Through Impressions
Have you ever just felt a strong conviction that you were supposed to do something? Or maybe you had an equally strong feeling that you were to avoid a certain direction at all costs? If so, you may have heard God through an impression.
I believe God can speak to us through an inner stirring, a conviction, or even a sense that things are out of alignment. For me, it’s almost like a red flag goes up in my spirit. Or maybe it’s a feeling of solid assurance about something.
Yes, we do have to be so very careful with this because all kinds of things can give us impressions. We can’t rely totally on what we feel, because our feelings could be the result of hormones or from a conflict in our families or from something we even desire that may not be good for us at all (like that extra piece of chocolate cake!).
All kinds of things affect our emotions. So we do have to be careful with impressions. But again, we don’t have to throw them out just because they’re a feeling. Our inner man can sometimes sense things that our mind just can’t grasp in words. We don’t need to ignore it when it does.
Here’s an example. Colossians 3:15 tells us that we are to let peace rule in our hearts. The Greek word for “rule” can also be translated as “to be an umpire”. Peace is definitely something we feel. So let’s say we need to make a decision about something. If we feel peace, we can see that peace, that impression, as God acting as umpire to rule about our decision. And if there’s no peace, then that’s a good sign to help you think twice before you make your decision.
He Can Speak Through Visions
For most of my life, if anyone told me they had seen a vision from God, I was super skeptical. Yes, I knew there were numerous accounts of visions in the Bible, but that was then- in the Bible, not now, right?
I’m thankful to say my opinion has changed.
While I have never had a vision with my eyes, I have experienced them in my spirit. Let me explain.
Our imaginations are a God-given blessing. We don’t need to fear them.
We can use our imaginations to picture Him as we’re praying or as we’re worshipping.
Sometimes when I’m doing this, I might be imagining that He and I are sitting in a garden talking about something that concerns me. I choose the scenery and I’m “writing” the script, so to speak. But occasionally, I’ll find He takes over the story in my mind.
It’s very obvious when He does. All of a sudden I’m not having to think about the next detail of the scene that’s playing; it just happens. The scenery might change or I might just see a single object. And when He speaks, I know it’s Him because it usually is never anything I would say.
I have found in those times what He says is so profound, it truly changes my life. It certainly doesn’t happen every time I pray. I wish it happened all the time, but it doesn’t. But when it does, it’s life-giving and hope-giving and transformational.
So…can you really hear God? While I have no tangible proof that I could hand you and say this is how I know God speaks, my experience of hearing Him in all these varied ways has proven to me that you can. My faith has grown stronger, and my confidence in His love and approval of me has healed me profoundly. My trust in Him is deeper as a result of all He’s told me.
I ask again, can you hear God? Maybe you’ve been wrestling with doubts that He even speaks or that He would be willing to speak to you. Maybe you are worried that what you think might be Him is really only you talking.
I want to challenge you. Choose to be intentional to start listening. Watch how your spirit responds when you read Scripture. Listen for Him when you’re talking with other people.
See if you start noticing any themes in all you’re hearing or reading. Notice if your spirit is moved by certain lyrics in a song. Weigh your impressions with His word to see what He might be saying about a decision. And I really encourage you to start imagining when you pray. You never know what you might see and hear!
We’ve talked before about the importance of knowing God for yourself. The best way to get to know anyone is to engage in conversation with them. That’s what God is inviting us to do with Him.
I can’t wait to hear what He has to say next!
Listening for Him in every way,
I would love for you to share in the comments one thing that you’ve felt like God has spoken to you and how it changed your life. Sharing testimonies is such a wonderful way to build up faith and to give us hope that the same thing can happen for us!! Thanks!
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