“God, I’m Listening!” – Keys to Hearing God’s Voice!
I just did a Google search on “hearing God’s voice,” and I was shocked that so many Christian teachers reject the idea that God actually talks with us anymore. They insist that the only way He talks with us is by reading the Bible.
Well, suppose if someone needs a direct word of encouragement or direction from God right now about a particular situation? Are we out on a limb?
It’s sad that these Christian teachers — being teachers! — are so misinformed.
I can recall a time when I was confused in a situation. I was at my wit’s end and I was just about to give up on waiting on things to change in my life. And I woke up one morning, I heard these words (internally): No righteous man who waits on the Lord will ever be denied!
What was that? It sounded like a proverb from scripture. But it was God who spoke to me. And He spoke to me when my mind was at total rest and wasn’t cluttered with distractions, as in the daytime.
You see it’s not difficult to hear God. We just need to be aware that He is speaking to us. The greatest impediment to hearing God is thinking that He doesn’t talk with us. But God’s word promises that He does talk with us.
- My sheep hear My voice (John 10:27, NLT throughout);
- When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future (John 16:13);
- And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said (Luke 12:11-12);
- But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you (John 14:26);
- What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear! (Matthew 10:27).
I know this sounds incredible but God desires that we get so close to Him that we get instant answers for instant questions.
It is God’s will that we allow the Holy Spirit, which was sent to us after Christ’s ascension into heaven, to guide, lead and direct us — even in our most intimate and vulnerable, personal concerns we have. I know this sounds incredible but God desires that we get so close to Him that we get instant answers for instant questions. You’ll notice that Jesus Himself says this very thing, for instance in the above scripture in Luke 12. He says that when we are called upon to account for certain beliefs we hold, the Holy Spirit will speak to us instantly about what to say, in a way that no one can gainsay. That’s instant answers!
FOUR WAYS OF HEARING GOD’S VOICE
You’ll be surprised to know that you’ve probably already heard God speak to you multiply times. We’ll prove that as we examine the four primary ways in which God can speak to us. The first way is so common that you’ll probably have to admit that God has already spoken to you. And once you realize that, you’ll be open to the other ways in which God can speak to you.
1 – INNER WITNESS
God speaks primarily through the Inner Witness — that’s your conscience! How many times has your conscience warned you about not sinning? How many times has your conscience bothered you about something you know is wrong? Guess what? God has been speaking to you. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right (Romans 2:15).
The Inner Witness can also help us to know when we’re on the right track. There’s a peace that is evident inside of you. But it’s important to agree with your conscience so that you’re open to the other ways God speaks to us. But beware, continually rejecting your conscience hardens you to the point of not being able to hear God anymore (I Tim 4:2). So now that we’ve proven that God speaks to you, be open to these other ways.
2 – DREAMS & VISIONS
Another very common way the Lord speaks to us is through Dreams and Visions. There are many examples in the scriptures that show God speaking to His people through dreams and visions. Joseph had a dream, informing him to depart Judea for a time until it was safe for the infant Jesus (Matthews 2:12). King Nebuchadnezzar had several dreams (Daniel 2, 4). In the New Testament, visions to direct the early church’s evangelism efforts were given to both Apostles Paul (Acts 16:9; 18:9) and Peter (Acts 10).
Quite often you need discernment in determining which dreams come from God and which come from pepperoni pizza. But expect God to speak to you in dreams and visions. Recall Joel 2:28 where God speaks about the time we are in presently: And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.
Keep a journal for everything you dream or hear from the Lord. Try not to use notebooks, but use a Word document so that you can easily search for entries later on and carry it around with you on a mobile phone.
3 – REVELATION
Revelation is another way God speaks to us. Revelation is best expressed by spiritual understanding that bypasses the natural senses. You don’t see it with your eyes, but you see it in your spirit. You don’t hear it with your ears, but you hear it in your spirit. It is knowledge and revelation that is deposited within your spirit, in the same way that the Spiritual Gifts expressed in I Corinthians 12 operate: Gift of Knowledge, Gift of Wisdom, Prophecy, Interpretation, Faith, Discernment. They are all dropped in your spirit by the Holy Spirit.
They are not necessarily spoken words but an understanding of truth that is expressed far more powerfully by a small deposit in the spirit than in multiply words in the physical. Similarly, the Lord at one time told me, “I will guide you in the way that you should go, directing you to go to the right or left. Listen to My heartbeat. Hearing My heartbeat and moving on it is a far deeper level of intimacy than if you just hear My words.” Here the Lord directed me to be open to His “heartbeat” — something that can only be understood as internal and non-verbal communication. God offers that to us. Therefore He tells us in I Cor 12:31 to “earnestly desire” these gifts!
4 – INNER VOICE
Then there’s the Inner Voice. That’s the voice that you hear internally in your spirit. At rare times it may be an audible voice, as if someone is in the room with you. But more frequently, it’s a “still, small voice,” the kind that Elijah heard (I Kings 19:12). It’s not flashy or shattering, like wind, fire or earthquake. It’s a “still, small voice,” the kind that you can overlook or dismiss if you’re not intently listening to Him or if you’ve built a wall of disbelief that prevents you from listening. Philip suddenly heard that voice in his spirit when he was reading the word: Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot (Acts 8:29). This is the “still, small voice” you can train yourself to hear God’s voice.
HOW TO FINE-TUNE HEARING GOD’S VOICE
God has made it easier for us to hear Him. Despite the fact that mankind has had a difficult time getting up to God’s level to hear Him, the Holy Spirit was given to mankind to come down to “our” level, so that we can hear words from the Throne. No striving to get into God’s presence, or working ourselves up to hear Him, the Holy Spirit was sent to speak to us on a daily basis, to lead us day by day, in a normal, natural fashion for Christians.
But there are certain things we need to keep in mind in order to have an open and ongoing communication with the Holy Spirit. Firstly, we are assuming that you’ve received Jesus as your Savior, repented of your sins and now live for Him. If your heart is towards Him, submitted to Him, and open to receive His directions for your life, then you’re on your way to hearing Him.
Secondly, as a rule, try to maintain a constant recognition that the Holy Spirit is always with you. Communicate consistently with Him. If you’re driving alone, you’re not alone. Communicate with the Holy Spirit, as if He is driving with you — for He is — all through the day!
Thirdly, as in all normal love relationships, we spend quality time with our Lover. We get to know our Lover when we spend time with each other. The more we spend time, the more we intensely desire to be in our Lover’s presence.
NEGLECTED KEY: WAITING ON GOD
Waiting on God has been a long lost key to hearing the voice of God. It’s seldom done and this is the reason why hearing God’s voice is so rare. What does it mean to wait on God? It simply means that you present yourself in prayer to God. Remove all distractions around you. You’re sitting before the Lover of your soul. You’re communing with Him, and you’re expecting Him to commune with you. And, yes, waiting on the Lord may very well mean WAITING on the Lord. Don’t rush it. Sit before Him for an hour, or two, or three. Make it a daily practice, for a time. Let worship music present yourself before Him, pray in the spirit, and then sit waiting to hear from Him — and He will speak to you!
He will even answer specific questions you have. Yet, He will require you to get in the habit of waiting on Him, awaiting answers. So, make it a habit to sit and wait at His feet. He will show up. And not only will He answer your questions, but He’ll be giving you instructions on your destiny and life, and He will be transforming you into His image in the waiting too.
- Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD, Psalm 27:14
- Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes, Psalm 37:7
- For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land, Psalm 37:9
- I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope, Psalm 130:5
- But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation My God will hear me, Micah 7:7
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear from Him the first or first few times, but continue to press in. That time you spend before God is precious to the Lord. He seeks children to sit before Him to hear Him.
IS HEARING GOD’S VOICE A FEARFUL THING?
Prophetic minister Lalita Smith of God Campaigns encourages us not to be fearful about hearing God’s voice. She says, “When it comes to hearing God’s voice, most people’s biggest fear is they think God is going to be angry with them. Second, they believe He is going to ask them to do something, or go live somewhere in the world they will hate. Both of these perceptions are far from the truth. God is always encouraging and edifying, even when He is gently correcting or rebuking you. His greatest desire is to see you live a happy and productive life utilizing the gifts He has placed within you.”
IDENTIFYING YOUR SPIRITUAL EAR
How do you distinguish God’s thoughts from your own thoughts? A determining factor for many is locating your spiritual ear. Christian minister Dave Roberson explains how to locate your spiritual ear in his cutting-edge book on praying in the Spirit, called, “The Walk of the Spirit, The Walk of Power.”
In it, he explains a simple technique to locate your spiritual ear. When we pray in the Spirit (tongues), we allow the Holy Spirit to pray through us (I Corinthians 14:2). Therefore, pray aloud in the Spirit for several minutes. Come to an abrupt stop. You will still hear tongues going on in your natural mind. There! — voila! — you’ve pinpointed where your spiritual ear is. And that’s the channel by which the Holy Spirit speaks to you.
In time the tongues will dissipate, after which you can restart the technique. The more you do this, the more you’ll find that these tongues sensitize your spiritual ear so that when God decides to speak to you, you’ll recognize it’s Him. You’ve located the area of that still, small voice.
IS TONGUES A REQUIREMENT TO HEARING GOD’S VOICE?
No, tongues is not a requirement to hearing God’s voice, but it certainly can make it easier. However, there are other techniques to hearing God’s voice. The late Prophet Stan Smith offered a Four Point Plan to hearing God’s voice.
- Quiet your heart. Find a quiet place, as Jesus said, “go into your prayer closet and shut the door!” (Matthew 6:6). Turn on some worship, or contemplative instrumental music, and remove mental distractions. Train yourself to quiet your spirit, as it’s very difficult to hear God’s voice when one is agitated. Take deep breaths. Prepare yourself to hear from Him.
- Focus on Jesus. Worship the Lord in song or praise. Focus on the glory, the grandeur, the power of Jesus in heaven.
- Listen for a flow of spontaneous words or imagery. In your quiet time, don’t think about anything; but listen to what is going on in your spirit. You will begin to hear a spontaneous flow of words. Repeat them aloud into a recording device. Wait for more. As you develop your ear, you will hear God more.
- Act on what God gives you. If it’s direction or encouragement, be mindful to follow through on what the Lord gives you. Write what the Lord gives you in a journal. And continue to cultivate hearing God’s voice. Please know that whatever you hear should never contradict scripture. If you have questions about what you’ve heard, please consult a reliable minister or friend.
MY OWN EXPERIENCE
You might sense that God would speak to more notable Christians than you or me. But that’s not true. You and I can have a place in God’s heart to hear Him more deeply and frequently. I felt the same way that you might be feeling now — inadequate. But I share my own experience to encourage all of you that if He can speak to me, He can speak to you!
This is direct from my journal!
Last night before going to bed, I had a great prayer with the Lord. It seemed like I was able to just shed off any pretenses, and just relate with the Lord heart to heart. I didn’t seem to have any agenda, as I presented myself before the Lord asking about my life and whether I should get a job or wait to hear from Him. I just felt that the prayer disrobed me of all motives, agendas and pretenses. It was the sweet spot of vulnerability.
I shared with the Lord an intense desire to have that ‘river of revelation’ from the throne on an ongoing basis. This morning I continued in the same demeanor of prayer. I just continued to thank Him from the heart for who God is as an individual – One who loves me unconditionally, who wants me to advance in life, who has no motive to hurt or destroy, etc.
Then suddenly I remained silent and I simply waited to hear. There seemed to be various streams of thoughts passing through my mind, most were not very distinct. But there were a few that were more distinct and I simply, in faith, started to repeat them aloud and a flow of His message came forth. If I can best describe my approach to God, I would say I was as a ‘little boy’ before him. Doesn’t God say “Let the children come to me. For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children” (Luke 18:16). And, here is what the Lord said:
Freedom. There is freedom in Me when you let go of those things that you think keep you safe. I have freedom for all my servants – unquenchable freedom — but they must immerse themselves in Me. For I am the One who frees you.
I see that you have been studying yourself to sit at My well and draw from Me. You will do well as you continue drawing from me. This well has much for you. This well causes things to come into your life. It breaks strongholds. It breaks the enemy’s tactics, when you hear from Me the things I have for you, the things I long, and for so long, desire to place in your hands, that you may do things that none have ever done.
I cherish you, my son. I cherish you, my son, and I long for continued times of fellowship, continued times of empowerment for you.
Trust Me, my son, for I have great treasures for you. Continue holding My hand as we walk through the rough, for we will be in a wide, open space. Even as I told you, that time you were in the woods, when you were buffeted about by the pricks and the twigs and the roughage in the woods, but you knew there was a clearing just ahead. Not only was it a clearing but it was also a highway that would take you far and wide.
Therefore fret not. Fret not. Fret not. Cast all your cares upon Me. Do not let doubt creep in. It is time you built up a bulwark against doubt, fear, isolation, loneliness. It is time that you built up an impenetrable wall that these things do not easily offend. For I have great things for you, great challenges, great responsibility in the mighty harvest of souls.
I was surprised that the Lord had so much to say. And so I determined to sit more often before and wait to hear precious words of encouragement from Him.
While He might not have spoken to me every time I went to Him, the idea is to develop a relationship with the Lord so that you can hear from Him more frequently. And that will happen to all who seek it. At another time the Lord encouraged me to continue to hear from Him.
Learn from Me as you sit at the well. You’ll be given instructions from the mind of Christ. Become familiar with the sound of My voice. Draw a deep attachment to it, for you will no longer be hesitant to sit at My feet and to hear the sound of Wisdom from the throne. Have I not received you as one of My own? For you will indeed do exploits to be carried along on the wings of angels to perform miracles. Do not be hesitant at what I tell you to do. There is great freedom in following My words and strategy, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
And so we encourage you to seek a deeper relationship with the Lord. As we approach the time for the return of Jesus, there can be no more important occupation than to try to hear from the Lord, on a regular basis, for guidance, direction, protection and empowerment. Make the effort to sit at His feet to hear the Master’s voice. Set a daily schedule that you can commit to. If nothing else, start at 20 minutes and go from there. May this article, friends, inspire you to hear God and may God bless you as you put into practice what you’ve learned. God has been waiting for you to wait on Him. You’ll never be the same again.
Downloadable PDF of this article "God, I'm Listening!" - Keys to Hearing God's Voice (139 downloads)
Carpenter, Gary “Face to Face” encounters with the Lord. Carpenter utilized the “hearing ear” technique of Dave Roberson to compile a lengthy series of the words the Lord gave him. Great for encouragement. PDF download here
Roberson, Dave “The Walk of the Spirit, The Walk of Power” PDF download here
Smith, Stan On Hearing God’s Voice Article here