Learning to Listen for His Voice
Many of us talk to the Lord and just want to hear Him respond now and then. But sometimes we aren’t sure what to listen for.
In the four decades since I’ve given my life to Christ, I have never experienced an encounter with God in which there was an audible voice, a thundering from heaven, a burning bush, or a rushing wind. It was usually a still small voice that gave me an inner peace, a loving rebuke that changed my ways, the written Word of God that pierced my heart, or a sense of calling and direction that wouldn’t let me be until I followed.
God speaks in various ways by the Holy Spirit to those in relationship with Him. And in my experience, I would have to say that He has spoken most clearly when I’ve been the most obedient, the most in need of comfort, and for the most part, taking the time to really listen.
Do you long to hear God speaking to you on a regular basis? Then I recommend these three steps:
- Look to His Word — God communicates through the Scriptures. Sometimes it’s a verse that pierces our hearts as we’re reading. Other times it might be a passage — or a few words from a verse — that comes to our mind in a particular situation. The more we know the Word of God, the more we’ll recognize God’s words of comfort, conviction, peace, or guidance.
- Look Around You — Sometimes it may seem like God isn’t there. But He often makes His presence known to us by what we experience on a daily basis. Look for His presence in the circumstances around you — the tender words from a friend that you needed to hear at just the right time, the “coincidence” that confirms what you’d been praying for, the situation at work that turned in your favor. The fact that nothing takes this all-knowing God by surprise affirms to me that He is already working in what you haven’t even handed to Him yet.
- Listen for His Whispers — Sometimes we feel urged to do something and we can’t explain why. Through prayer and discernment we can figure out if that is God’s whisper on our heart. Sometimes God speaks to us this way through prayer by nudging us to pray for something we wouldn’t otherwise have prayed for. God whispers encouragement. He whispers suggestions for acts of love toward someone in need. He whispers words to say at the proper time to heal another’s heart. When you hear these loving whispers, don’t immediately dismiss them as distracting thoughts. Instead, thank Him for what He spoke to you.
There is no sure-fire formula for hearing God speak. He speaks in His own way and in His own time to the hearts that are prepared to hear Him. But if we cultivate a heart to hear, we can be sure that His silence is not on account of our not listening.
For some practice in recognizing His whispers, reflecting on His character, and responding to His heart, read a short page each day in my brand new devotional, God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart.