How to Hear God's Voice Clearly
Question: How do I know if God is speaking to me? I feel like I struggle in the area of hearing God’s voice.
Great question! I believe God wants to speak to all of us, and you must remember that His ability to speak is greater than your ability to hear. When God wants to speak to you, I believe you will hear His voice clearly. You simply need to develop faith that He will speak. You also need to keep your “channel” clear so that nothing will hinder communication.
Years ago I learned from Bible teacher Henry Blackaby that God speaks in four primary ways:
1. Through the Bible. God went to a lot of trouble to get the Bible to us, and brave martyrs paid a big price so we could have your own copy of it. Yet many Christians neglect reading the Word, and then when they need guidance they get frustrated because God isn’t giving them a personal message. The question is: Are you reading the message He already sent you? Proverbs 8:34 says: “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts.” If you develop an attitude of listening when you read the Bible, guidance will come to you easily.
2. By the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can speak directly to us. This does not usually happen in an audible voice---we hear God through the “inner voice” of the Spirit. The ability to discern the Spirit’s voice is something we develop over time. For me it started when I was in college, but I have learned to recognize His voice better over the years. When the Spirit speaks, He will never contradict the Word of God. It is also important to know that God’s voice never brings fear, anxiety or condemnation. He brings peace. And although He may convict you of something you did wrong, God always offers love, mercy and forgiveness even when He corrects us. If the voice you hear is condemning you or accusing you, it is either Satan or your own heart. God speaks to you as a loving Father.
Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit can also speak to you through dreams or visions, although these ways are not as common.
3. Through other people. Sometimes when God wants to get your attention, He may speak through a mentor, a friend, a parent, a spouse or even a stranger. He also speaks through your pastor through a sermon or through a visiting minister at your church. If your voice is tuned to hear God, He can use someone’s words to confirm something very personal to you. When I face big decisions, I always ask some of my mature Christian friends or mentors to pray with me and give me their advice. Many times God has shared His wisdom to me through them. This is why the Bible says there is victory “in the multitude of counsel.”
4. Through circumstances. Sometimes God will redirect a situation to get your attention. For example, let’s say you are praying about taking a job in one city, and suddenly you get a job offer in another city. God may be redirecting your path by opening an opportunity you didn’t expect. God can open doors and He can also close them. Not every circumstance is from God. But you must be open to seeing God’s hand at work in your situation.
A key to guidance is to keep your heart in a place of humility and purity. As long as your communication lines are open, God will get through to you. If you have any unconfessed sin in your life, or an unwilling or stubborn attitude, you may not automatically hear God when He speaks. Sin can create a barrier. And when your heart is bent on doing your own will, your tendency will be to “hear what you want to hear.” The secret is to have a yielded spirit. You must be willing to pray like Jesus prayed when He went to the cross: “Father…not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). When you ask for guidance from God with a total willingness to do His will, it will not be difficult for you to hear Him.
Does Anybody Out There Want to Win Cornhuskers to Jesus?
Guys, last year I spoke at a great church in Lincoln, Nebraska, that is pastored by a woman named Connie Dawson. This church is growing and it is situated near the University of Nebraska. Connie told me this week that she wants to hire a full-time associate pastor who has a desire to reach and disciple college students and young adults. The U. of Nebraska campus has many international students, and the spiritual potential is huge. If you are interested in this opportunity please let me know and I will put you in touch with Connie. She told me her primary qualification for this position is that the person must be on fire for Jesus and be committed to a life of prayer. Let me know.
An Impromptu Bold Venture Reunion in Baltimore!
This past weekend I preached for my friend Lewis Lee, who pastors Life Source Revival Center in Baltimore. We had an incredible time together and we also did street ministry on Saturday and some people gave their lives to Jesus in one of the roughest areas of the city. One very cool thing that happened was that several of my Bold Venture buddies surprised me and came to Baltimore for the meetings. They included Paul Carette and Harold Andrews from Oxon Hill, Maryland; Roque Santiago, Carlos Lugo and Justin Deemer from Bilingual Church in Harrisburg, Pa., Alex Ankudovich and Ruvim Kolesnivovich from Philadelphia, and of course the guys from Lewis Lee's church including Rick Salazar and Saji Ijiyemi. I am so grateful for the deep level of fellowship we have because of our times together at Bold Venture. I look forward to seeing all of you sometime this year. And don't forget to mark your calendars: Our 2014 Men's Bold Venture retreat will be in Philadelphia Oct. 23-25.