I am always amazed that the God of the Universe pauses in the midst of His creation to touch and speak to our hearts. I believe each day God speaks to us. Sometimes He invites us to draw close and listen as He reveals Himself, His character and His direction. Other times He calls us to actively participate in His purposes. As I’ve shared my journey of radical obedience, people ask me how I know God is speaking to me.
The truth is there’s no secret formula for discerning God’s voice. But we can learn to recognize it the way we recognize the voices of those close to us – by knowing God personally and intimately. Then, we can tell if what we’re feeling led to do is from Him or not.
Though I’ve never heard God’s voice audibly, I hear from Him all the time. It is a certain impression on my heart that I’ve come to recognize. I’ve also learned to ask five key questions to determine if what I’m hearing is from God. Let me describe each of them so you can decide if the promptings of your heart are from the Father.
Does what I’m hearing line up with Scripture? God will not speak to us or tell us to do something that is contrary to His Word. But if we do not know Scripture, we will not be able to discern whether what we are hearing is consistent with it. Thankfully you don’t need a seminary degree to read your Bible. If you are new to this, invest in a translation that is easy to understand with a built-in commentary, as well as a journal to record the verses you study. Compare it with your personal experiences and what you are learning as you read God’s Word. It is the language of the Holy Spirit that helps us understand what God is saying to our hearts. It can transform the mind and prepare it for whatever God wants to tell us.
Is what I’m hearing consistent with God’s character? As you read God’s Word and come across verses revealing aspects of His nature, make note of them. He will not say things that are inconsistent with who He is. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.” The Spirit in us develops these character traits, just as they are found in the nature of Christ. When you feel God speaking to you, ask yourself, “Is what I’m hearing consistent with God’s love, joy, peace, etc.?”
Is what I’m hearing being confirmed with other messages? When God is speaking to me about a particular issue, I cannot escape it. Around every corner is a sermon, a speaker’s topic, or a conversation with a friend that is consistent with what I’ve been hearing in my time alone with Him. When we invest in spending time alone with God, He will speak to us, and what we hear from Him in these quiet times will be echoed in other places. Is what I’m hearing beyond me? When God calls us to do something, most of the time we can’t do it in our own strength – either it is beyond our ability or beyond our natural human desire. It is not something we can strategize and manipulate into being, in and of ourselves. It can only happen by God’s divine intervention. Think about it – Abraham was old, Moses stuttered, Joseph was abused, and Rahab was a prostitute – and the beauty of each of their stories is that God alone worked miracles through them, and for that we give Him all the glory.
Would what I’m hearing please God? It’s easy to talk ourselves out of thinking we’ve heard from God. We’ll use pretty much any excuse to convince ourselves it’s not His voice so we don’t need to act. But there’s one very important question to ask that takes away all our excuses: “Would this please God?” You see, if what you are doing pleases God, then even if what you thought you heard from Him wasn’t His voice, you still please Him. If you are going to err, err on the side of making God happy.
The more you practice listening for God’s voice, the more it becomes a natural part of your daily life. God wants you to hear Him and He wants your faith to grow. Live in expectation of hearing from God, and you will. Then respond with radical obedience.
Used with the permission of Proverbs 31 Ministries. If you would like additional information on Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries, please contact them at www.proverbs31.org