Jesus says: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me”(NIV, John 10.27).
As Christians we are to be constantly listening to His voice, have an intimate conversational relationship with Jesus, and freely decide to surrender to Him daily and do what He tells us. Only then will we be able to truly know God’s will for our own life and fulfill the unique purpose that God has shaped us for.
God is constantly speaking to us. He wants to have a personal conversational relationship with each one of us. Through the Holy Spirit that lives in each believer it is made possible for us to communicate with God personally. So how exactly do we do it?
Here are some steps to help you hear God’s voice:
1. Expect a gentle wise spontaneous thought
God can communicate to us in many different ways. But the most intimate and clear way He can communicate with us personally and speak concretely to specific issues in our life is by talking directly to our minds.
His voice sounds like spontaneous thoughts coming to our mind that are wiser than our own and impact us in an emotional way.
The Holy Spirit can speak directly into our souls and tell us exactly what God wants us to know in that particular moment or on that particular issue.
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you” (John 16.13-14).
2. Decide to do His will in advance
When our own will becomes more important to us then doing His will then our ability to hear from God can be distorted by our own bias of wanting to hear one particular answer from Him.
So in order to have the clarity in hearing God’s voice we need to come to Him with an attitude of complete surrender and tell Him that we want to do His will and then ask Him to tell us what is His will.
3. Be reconnected with the Holy Spirit
While the Holy Spirit never leaves us, we constantly need to be made aware of His presence in us and make sure to always reconnect with Him whenever we lose the connection.
We are connected to the Holy Spirit when we feel God’s presence. To feel God’s presence is to feel the peace of God. And the more often we feel it the better we can discern it in the future.
There are many ways in which we can reconnect with the Holy Spirit. I would suggest to start with a prayer to ask God to fill you with His spirit and then do the activity that makes you feel close to God.
I personally feel God’s presence when I am slowly reading the Bible and delighting in each verse without rushing anywhere. You can read more about how to feel God’s presence while reading the Bible in this article: How to Enjoy Reading the Bible
4. Empty your mind and listen
While God can speak to us at any time, we more often hear His voice when we quiet down and empty our mind from all the worries of the day.
You can just write all your worries or things to remember down on the paper so that you empty your mind from all the clutter.
In order to empty my mind I usually like to sit or lay down. Put on some relaxing instrumental background music and close my eyes. I don’t think about anything in particular. I just focus on feeling His presence and focus my mind on Him. Not on the specific religions image of Jesus but rather on His character: His love, grace, and patience. I do not think hard about those things or analyze them either. I just rest in His presence and wait expectantly until He starts speaking.
The key is to quiet down your own thoughts so that you may hear what God has to say to you through the Holy Spirit.
5. Write down what you hear
In my personal experience God does not say much to me unless I write it down. He can give me some ideas or maybe say one sentence or phrase to me. But it is usually when I start writing it down that He goes further to explain to me what He really means.
The first sentence I hear from Him is usually just the opening phrase of an essay that is yet to follow. And you usually don’t get much out of the opening line. You only get the main point of the essay towards the end.
Also, writing down what God tells you prevents you from automatically starting to analyze what He is telling you. Writing keeps you busy writing until He has finished speaking.
6. Reflect on what you have written
When we just start hearing God for the first time it is often hard for us to know if we heard from Him.
As we become more experienced in hearing God, we learn how to recognize His voice and so it becomes easy for us to discern it.
But if you are new to hearing God’s voice here are few question to ask to help you recognize if it was Him who spoke to you:
- Does it align with the Bible?
Not just one verse taken out of context, but the entire teachings of the Bible.
- Does it align with how God has shaped you?
God will never ask you to do something that He has not shaped you to do. God wants you to operate in your strength zone. He will not ask you to do something that does not align with your personality.
This is not to say that God does not want you to leave your comfort zone, but rather to say that God has made you for a specific purpose and that He has given you everything you need to fulfill that purpose.
- Do your Christian friends affirm it?
This is a dangerous one since all people are different and so have different opinions. But having few trusted friends speak their opinion to you is a sure way to broaden your perspective on one particular issue to which God has spoken to you.
Did you experience hearing God’s voice? Share your story in the comment section below – it might be a powerful testimony to others.