Learning how to listen to God can be challenging, mostly because God seldom, if ever, speaks audibly. But, as strange as it may sound, God’s voice can often be unmistakable. God is a spirit and is able to stir the soul within us in such a way that most Spirit filled Christians are able to know exactly when and where God spoke to them and exactly what He said.
God can speak to us in many different ways but the most fundamental way is through “The Word of God”. The Holy Bible is God’s words and His general will for every living person. Often times when we are seeking answers or guidance from the Lord, we can find those answers in the Bible. This is why it’s important to spend a little time each day reading from the Bible.
God also frequently talks to us through other people. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Isaiah 52:7). When your pastor gets up in the pulpit on a Sunday morning, God can often find ways to speak to us through the sermon. One of my favorite preachers is Mark Driscoll. I subscribe to his podcast and each time I listen, there will be at least one or two things the Lord speaks to me on.
But God doesn’t limit his speaking through others, only via pastors. When we get connected with Spirit filled friends, God can speak through them as well. Most of the spiritual growth that I’ve experienced came from spending time with friends who have relationships with Jesus.
**An important warning about listening to friends, relatives and pastors: God never contradicts himself. If someone says to you, “God said….” and what follows is contrary to what’s written in the Bible, you’ll know God didn’t say it. Guard your faith carefully because it’s of more worth than gold.
God also occasionally speaks to us through dreams. This can be a difficult one to comprehend because the mind, when asleep, is always dreaming. So to differentiate between when God is speaking to you as opposed to when your mind is merely focused on the scary movie you watched before going to bed, can be perplexing. However, in broad generalities, I find that for me, God speaks to me through my dreams rarely, but when He does, the dream has such a vivid realism that it causes me to ponder the dream for several days. I always try to interpret the dream’s meaning through scripture and on the subject matters of my recent prayers. Sometime the meaning is clear and other times it’s not. I usually write them down in my laptop and save them for future reference.
Another way in which God speaks to us is directly into our hearts and minds. For me it is often just one or two words that have a depth of understanding so broad it would require a book to write it all down. This only ever happens to me while in prayer and only occasionally. I’ll ask the Lord for some guidance or wisdom and then all of sudden, BAM, a word comes to my mind, the understanding of which is so profound and specific in its context that it goes far beyond the simple dictionary definition of the word. It will be an understanding in regards to a relationship or an action or a direction I should go and will be filled with tremendous wisdom and detail of such a nature that I would have never thought of it on my own. And all this takes place in a split second.
Because we are individuals, God works with each of us individually. So don’t assume that what I’ve written here is the only ways in which God will speak to you.
What’s important, however, is that to hear from God, you should spend time in prayer and Bible study and that you should get connected with other believers. Study the Bible not because you need to but because you Love the Lord and desire for Him to speak to you.
God rewards those who diligently seek Him.
(Photo credit: Flickr creative commons, Hearing From God by Randy Willis)