5 Practical Tips to Help You on Your Way to Hearing God
Maybe you've been a Christian your whole life, but you've never actually heard God speak directly to you. Or maybe you're a total skeptic and can't help but cringe every time someone says, "God told me this or that..." Wherever you are at, make a decision today to at least be open to the possibility of knowing a God who really does speak. Imagine for a moment God Himself saying these words right to YOU: "My sweet child, do not fear, do not doubt, do not be discouraged...I am right here with you and have so much to tell you about your future with Me...yes, YOU!"
Here are five tips to help you on your way to hearing God, tuning out the distractions of life, and tuning into the powerful voice of your heavenly Father:
#1 Believe. In order to start hearing God's voice in our lives, we must believe He speaks. Take a minute and read Isaiah 30:21; John 10:14, 16; and John 16:13.
Are you convinced yet? Knowing God is more than following a rulebook of the Ten Commandments and trying to be the best person you can be. The God we serve is the same God who SPOKE to Abraham, Noah, Moses, Joseph, Daniel, Nehemiah, Jesus and many others who were led to do mighty things for the kingdom of God. The only prerequisite: simple faith that they were being led by the voice of their God! That's all that is required of you and me too. Do you believe?
#2 Be in the Word. In order know the voice of God, we must know who God is. In order to know who God is, we must read His Word, for it is the Book of Life, revealing His nature and character in dealing with His people. If we do not know the true heart and character of God, we can easily be deceived. The Scriptures warn us of false prophets and false doctrines that will come (Matthew 24:23-27; 2 Peter 3:3; Jude 1:17-18), many of which are out there now, disguising themselves as "good" and even "godly" things. But we must remain vigilant in guarding against falsehood by knowing the truth. Studying the real thing will help us know the reality of His voice when it comes, and spot counterfeit when it comes as well.
#3 Be Expectant. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 5:3, which says that in the morning God hears my voice. I lay my requests before Him and wait in expectation. When we have a living, vibrant, two-way relationship with the Lord, we must remember to turn on our "spiritual antennas" and expect to hear God speak to us. But notice what precedes the expectation: laying requests before Him. Sometimes we do not hear from God because we do not ask specific things from Him. Jesus Himself said that everyone who asks will receive, everyone who seeks will find, and for him who knocks the door will be opened (Matthew 7:8). Expecting to hear from God without seeking Him first is like expecting your friends to come to your birthday party, even though you never sent invitations. We must devote ourselves to asking, seeking, and knocking on the door of our Father's heart, waiting in expectation for Him to answer.
#4 Be Ready to Respond. We can't just say we want to hear God without the desire to want to obey what He says. When we truly train our spiritual ears to hear from God, the hard fact is this: sometimes He says things we don't want to hear. It's true. He might say things like, Apologize to your mom...Forgive the person who wronged you...Give half your salary to that needy family across the street...Ask your boss if she needs prayer. Hearing God is an awesome privilege, but with it comes great responsibility. God is looking for those who will hear AND act, carrying out the directives He has spoken. In Luke 11:28 Jesus said that those who hear the Word of God and obey it are blessed. So be ready to hear...and respond! Otherwise you're better off leaving your earplugs in.
#5 Be in Community. There will be times when we are unsure whether what we are hearing is the voice of God or not. This is where Christian community proves invaluable. There have been times when I think I am hearing something from God and I will go to a trusted friend who knows me well and run it by her. "I am hearing this...does that resonate with you?" Thankfully, in these times God will speak wisdom and discernment through that friend and she will either say, "Yes, based on what God has been teaching you this season, this does resonate with my spirit." Or, "Ya know, these sound like negative words of condemnation and don't seem to be in line with God's character in His Word." And then we'll pray and ask God for confirmation or further insight. We were never meant to walk this spiritual journey alone. Proverbs 15:22 tells us that plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. There will be times when we need to lean on others for advice, wisdom, and protection to help us stay on the path God has carved out for us.
Go beyond imagining God could speak to you and choose today to believe He WILL. By taking practical steps of being in the Word, being expectant, being ready to respond, and being in community, you can be sure His voice will come! Rejoice, for God has special truth to reveal to you (Psalm 25:14). It's up to you to open your spiritual ears to hear. Will you?
Ali is the newest columnist for The Brink magazine. Check out her first column in the Spring 2012 issue of The Brink! You can find her other articles at http://www.thebrinkonline.com/articles/author/alismith or by visiting her website at www.alismithonline.com.