How do we hear God?

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God delights to communicate with
us.  He loves to answer our
questions.  He conveys His approval
and acceptance of us.  He guides us
when we do not know what to do.  He
brings light when something is bothering us.  There are no shadows in His goodness.  He loves us to seek Him and pursue Him,
and He delights even more to reveal Himself to us.

Puppy listening to music

There are many promises in the
Word of God that highlight God’s desire to speak to us.  The Scriptures say that He will guide
us, give us wisdom, communicate with us (Romans 8:14; James 1:5; 1 Corinthians

So how does God communicate with
us today? 

  1. His sheep recognize His voice.

Most of the
time, as described above, God speaks to us through our own thoughts.  So how can we learn to recognize and
identify His voice?  I could be in
a room with a hundred people, all of them speaking out loud, and I would
instantly recognize the voice of my husband, Tony (and not just because he
would be the only one speaking with a British accent!)  What is the reason for this?  I love to spend time with Tony.  We spend hours enjoying each other’s
company.  In human terms, there is
no one else I would rather spend time with.  Over the thirty five years that we have been married, it has
come to the point where we regularly think the same thoughts simultaneously and
complete each other’s sentences. 

God longs for
an intimate relationship with us too. 
As we spend time with Him, we learn to recognize His voice.  As we read His word, we come to
understand His ways and His thoughts. 
There is no substitute for time spent in His presence, adoring Him,
loving Him, meditating on His Word and His character and listening to what He
has to say to us. 

I learned to
recognize how God speaks to me many years ago.  At that time I used to do a lot of counseling.  Several times a week people would come
to me with their problems.  In
order to cut down on the amount of time it took to get to the root of their
problem and to find a solution, I developed the habit of praying for them
before they came.  I would empty my
mind of my own thoughts by waiting on God, and I would pray for them, often in
tongues.  Then I would write down
the thoughts that came into my mind. 
Later, after the counseling session was over, I would go back to my
prayer journal and see if I had written anything relevant to their
situation.  Most of the time I
had.  Obviously not everything I
wrote was relevant, but usually, 85-90% of the time, a good portion of it
specifically addressed their problem. 
I would note this down.  As
this happened more and more frequently, I gained a confidence that God would
speak to me in that way.

[Oral Roberts
addresses this use of speaking in tongues in his book, A Daily Guide to Miracles. 
In a section entitled, “I speak to God; God speaks to me,” Roberts
describes that when we pray in tongues, we are speaking to God.  We can trust that the thoughts that we
have while this is going on are God speaking back to us.]

Mark Virkler
also talks about God speaking to us. 
Many years ago I read his book entitled Dialog with God.  In it
he describes a way of learning to listen to God.  One of the things he writes about is the art of
journaling.  If we deliberately
quiet our hearts before God, waiting in His presence, God will speak to
us.  When we have entered that place
of knowing we are in His presence, where our minds are not distracted by a
myriad of thoughts about the affairs of our day, then we write down the
thoughts that come into our minds without attempting to make any sense of them
until we have finished writing. 
When the stream of thoughts comes to an end, we then go over what we
have written.  Does it make
sense?  Is it in accord with
Scriptural principle? 

I use this
pattern frequently.  Usually I have
spent time in the Word and time worshipping God.  I will then quiet my mind by waiting on God, bringing every
thought captive to Him so that I am no longer working with my preconceived
ideas.  Then I will write down a
question.  It may be as simple as,
“Is there anything want to say to me today?”  Or maybe it will be more specific—“What do you want me to do
about this situation?”  Then I
start to write down the thoughts that come into my mind.  Usually I will write for several
minutes.  When the flow of writing
stops, I go over what I have written to see if it is relevant.

My experience
is that much of the time, what I write is in general good, but fairly
non-specific.  It is Scriptural, but
not life-changing.  But sometimes
it brings clear revelation from the Lord, often about the Scriptures I have
been meditating on.  And
occasionally it is a very specific word. 
For example, a few months ago, I wrote that it appeared as though He was
warning me that I was going to experience a very specific kind of spoken attack
that I would not be expecting and from someone that I thought was a
friend.  He also stated that it would
rebound to His glory.  Within three
days, the contents of a phone call absolutely shocked me.  But I was prepared.  It meant that I was able to deal with
the situation it represented in a more godly fashion.

Quite often God
speaks through a picture.  At a
personal level, I tend to be more auditory than visual.  I tend to think in words rather than
pictures.  But often I will catch a
glimpse of a picture as I am praying. 
As I think about what I have seen, concepts come into my mind and the
meaning becomes clear and relevant.

It does not
take long interacting with the Lord in this way before one becomes familiar
with the way the Holy Spirit speaks and learns to trust the quiet whisper in
the heart.


One reply on “How do we hear God?”

Very helpful examples, Felicity! You are such a good model of this. I’ve learned a lot from you in this area. In one sense it is so simple but I continue to be amazed it is not the normal experience for so many Christians.
Rather than just talk about listening, we’ve found it transformational to actually do this with people at every opportunity. Mary Geegh describes this practice in her powerful little book “God Guides”. (Experiential learning vs theoretical learning)
Then, we reinforce it at every level. First, with our alone time with God each day. Then, with our daily CO2s (churches of two which includes marriages). Then, with our house churches. And, finally, with our regional leadership teams (MRTs). In each situation we are seeking to follow in Jesus’ steps: “I do nothing on my own initiative. I only do what I see the Father doing.” (Jn. 5:19)
It’s been especially fun to see how this works out in house churches. We teach each church to simply ask the Lord one question each week: “Jesus, what do you want to say to your church today.” The group takes 20-30 minutes to listen and write what they hear in response to that question. And, then, they come back together to share what they heard. New Christians and children often are the best “hearers” in this situation. What we are discovering is that Jesus is really quite good at leading individual churches. (Who would have thought?!) As we listen and obey, everything else seems to flow naturally – Bible study, prayer, intimate fellowship, mission, etc. And, it makes starting new churches quite simple.
Here’s a short video on how one family is putting this into practice. Very fun to see how the 7 and 10 year olds are “getting it”!

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