A loved one in my family recently got a pair of hearing aids to help her hear more clearly. Suddenly, she could hear sounds she hadn't heard for over a decade. Her quality of life improved and her connections with those around her deepened. She couldn't contain her excitement, "Wow, I didn't even realize all I was missing out on!"
Hearing God's voice can be like that. We go so long without hearing Him that we get used to life without it. Or perhaps we never learned how to hear God's voice, so we truly have no idea what we are missing out on. But the Bible clearly describes a God who speaks to His people, leading them in the way to go: "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21).
I'll never forget a time I was sitting with a group of friends and one of them said, "God told me to go up to my friend in church and give him some money." I sat there dumbfounded, thinking to myself, What does he mean God 'told' him? I was too embarrassed to ask him for clarification right then, but I went home that night with my mind racing with questions: Was it possible to actually hear God? Why hasn't God ever talked to me like that?
The truth was, God was speaking all along. I just didn't know how to hear. We often assume God 'speaking' to us means hearing an audible voice thundering down from heaven in a boisterous, "Thus sayeth the Lord!" kind of way. Though this is not out of the realm of possibility, it is more common for God to speak to us through other 'modes' of communication, such as the Bible, the 'still small voice' of the Holy Spirit, or through other people.
But how do we begin to hear God speak directly to us? Just like my family member had to put in hearing aids to help sharpen her hearing, there are also things that will aid us in tuning into the voice of God. Here are five tips to help you on your way to hearing God, tuning out the distractions of life and tuning into the powerful voice of your Heavenly Father:
#1 Believe. In order to start hearing God's voice in our lives, we must believe that He speaks. Knowing God is more than following a rule book of the Ten Commandments and trying to be the best person you can be. The God we serve is the same God who SPOKE to Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Daniel, Nehemiah, Jesus and many others who were led to do mighty things for the Kingdom of God. The only pre-requisite they all had in common was simple faith that they were being led by the voice of their God. That's all that required of you and me too. Do you believe?
#2 Be in the Word. In order know the voice of God, we must know who God is. In order to know who God is, we must read His Word, for it is the Book of Life, revealing His nature and character in dealing with His people. If we do not know the true heart and character of God, we can easily be deceived. The Scriptures warn us of false prophets and false doctrines that will come (Matthew 24:23-27; see also 2 Peter 3:3 and Jude 17-18), many of which are out there now, disguising themselves as 'good' and even 'godly' things. But we must remain vigilant in guarding against falsehood by knowing the Truth.
#3 Be Expectant. One of my favorite verses is, "In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation" (Psalm 5:3). When we have a living, vibrant, two-way relationship going on with God, can expect to hear God speak to us. But notice what precedes the expectation: laying requests before Him. Sometimes we are not hearing from God because we are not asking specific things from Him.
#4 Be Ready to Respond. We can't just say we want to hear God without the desire to want to obey what He says. When we truly turn up the volume to hear from God, the hard fact is this: sometimes He says things we don't want to hear, like, Apologize to your mom... Forgive the person you wronged... Give half your salary to that needy family... Ask your boss if she needs prayer. Hearing God is an awesome privilege, but with it comes great responsibility.
#5 Be in Community. There will be times when we are unsure whether what we are hearing is the voice of God or not. This is where Christian community proves invaluable. We were never meant to walk this spiritual journey alone. Proverbs 14:22 says, "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." There will be times when we need to lean on others for advice, wisdom and protection to help us stay on the path God has carved out for us.
Maybe you've been a Christian your whole life, but you've never actually heard God speak directly to you. Or maybe you're a total skeptic and can't help but cringe every time someone says, "God told me this or that..." Wherever you are at, make a decision today to at least be open to the possibility of knowing a God who really does speak. God has special words to deliver right your precious soul. All you have to do it put in your spiritual hearing aids and turn the volume up.
(Feel free to comment and share stories of hearing God's voice in your own life. Or ask any questions around this topic you are currently wrestling with. May we journey together and encourage each other along the way!)
"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth... he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come" (John 16:13)
"I am the good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me...They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd" (John 10:14, 16).
"For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened" (Matthew 7:8).
Jesus says, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it" (Luke 11:28).
Ali is preparing to return back to the east coast for her 5th year college reunion at Princeton, where she was a Religious Studies Major. She can't wait to fill her old college buddies in on the amazing new community of friends she has met through She Seeks. You rock!
Ali's first book is called Entrusting the Key: From Serial Dating to Joyful Waiting and can be found on Amazon.com. Her passion is to inspire Christians to reach unity and maturity in their faith. She also loves encouraging others to learn to hear the voice of God in their own lives. For more on this topic you can visit her blog at http://alinsmith.wordpress.com/
© 2011 by Ali Smith. All rights reserved.
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