This post is part of “The Basics” series, a series all about the basics of being a follower of Jesus Christ.
The last post in this series was about praying. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it. But what comes next? Well if you want to get to know God better, and start trusting Him, you need to give Him opportunities to talk to you, to teach you, to love you. This starts with the regular intake of God’s word, but we need the Holy Spirit to help us understand what God is trying to tell us. We need to hear God’s still, small voice.
Nothing At All
One of the things that alluded me most when I was a baby Christian was hearing from God. I remember that I wanted to hear from Him so badly, but days would go by without anything. Not a verse, not a word, not an answered prayer. I read my bible every day, but some days I didn’t understand the connection between the words on paper, and my life.
Looking back on those times has made me think about you, dear reader. I have spent a lot of time praying about this specific topic, asking God to show me what He would have me say to you about it.
The Practicing Stage
When I was praying about it God reminded of a common scene that took place in my life at that time. I can still see myself, sitting at my desk (under my lofted bed), resting my feet on the ledge while I reclined in my office chair, quiet. Not saying anything. Trying not to think. Practicing. Listening.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they know Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:27-28
I don’t mind being the dumb sheep in this equation as long as the brave, strong shepherd is Jesus Christ. Sheep know the specific voice of their shepherd, but why? Because they hear it over and over again. They spend time with the shepherd until one day they would be able to tell his voice apart from any other voice. That is the same thing we need to do when we are getting to know Jesus. We need to spend time listening to Him. That doesn’t always mean we will hear Him, but we need to practice so that day can come when we can tell His voice apart from all of the others. We need to invest time in trying to understand our Father in heaven. Do you ever pray and then just sit there waiting for an answer? I used to do just that. I would sit there and try to focus on hearing from God. Many times nothing would happen, but it was good practice, and these days I do hear from God a lot more often.
“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10
I could take this verse very literally and say, “Sit still!” when you want to hear from God. But I don’t think that is what this verse means. On one level, sure, but there is so much more to it than that. For men maybe this verse means, “Stop trying to fix this!” For women I feel like this verse means, “Stop worrying and overthinking everything. Relax and trust me. I’m God. Stop letting your mind run scenarios like a hamster on a wheel, going nowhere. I’ve got this.” Notice that God has to use a few more words to get through to us women 😉 I don’t know about you, but I am very tempted not to sit still. I want to do something when I have a problem or something comes up. I always want to go talk to someone about everything. In fact I want to go talk to many someones. I think talking over everything in detail will make me feel better. Over the years, however, God has shown me that I need to take my worries and hurts to Him first. First of all, I may be overreacting, which He lovingly reminds me of once I calm down if that is the case. Secondly, I don’t want to involve anyone else in gossip, if the thing that is upsetting me has to do with someone else. Sometimes the best way for me to tell God about what is really bothering me is to think about what I would say to a close friend, and then say it to God instead. Being still means that you don’t react based on your emotions, but take a moment, talk to God, and try to deal with the situation based on God’s Word and God’s desires for your life. As a parent, I am constantly being tested in this area.
Am I Really Saying That God Speaks
I know that everyone has different experiences when it comes to hearing from God. I think we all know when He is speaking to us through a verse in the bible, when we hear the same phrase from several different people within a few days, or when someone prays for us about something that we never told them about. These are generally accepted ways of hearing from God in the Christian community. But then there are arguments about whether people actually hear from God individually. I can tell you that in my own life, I also experience God as a type of consciousness.
“Your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21
Sometimes I hear a voice in my head telling me to do something, or responding to a question during prayer. It sounds a lot like my inner voice (like when you read) but it is a lot quieter, gentler, and doesn’t get angry like I do. This voice also says things that are far too wise to come from myself. If you think I’m being crazy, I don’t care, that’s ok. But if you relate to what I am saying, then I wrote this for you.
That Other Voice
If you already thought I was being crazy when I talked about hearing a conscious form of God speaking to me, you are not going to like this next part. There have been a few times in my life when I have experienced hearing another voice, kind of like the voice I described earlier. However it actually sounded and felt different— it wasn’t wise, at all. It was condemning and challenged me to do stupid things that would put my family and I in danger in a quest for self righteousness. God would never do that. I don’t want to scare you, I just want you to know to be careful. We do know this about satan:
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” John 10:10a
This is Jesus talking about satan… whom he calls, “the thief.” If you don’t think that satan will try to imitate God’s methods of communications to make you an ineffective Christian, you are wrong. Use discretion and listen for the Holy Spirit warning you, telling you not to listen to this destructive force that seeks to manipulate, steal, kill, and destroy.
That is all I have for this week about hearing God’s voice. If you have any questions about this topic, please send them in and I would love to do my best to answer them.
Next time, I will be talking about my new book, “The Truth About Godly Confidence,” that will hit online retailers next week. I hope you will join me for that.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank You for this time. Lord, I pray that You would please help my sisters to know how to hear from you. I know that there is a specific way that you desire to speak to each one of them. I pray that they would learn to be still so that they can hear Your voice, which we all need so desperately. Thank You that You actually want to communicate with us, and that You love us so much that you sent Your Son to die on the cross so that we can be with You in heaven for all eternity. We love you Lord.
In Your Son’s precious name,
I hope you tune in next week!