How do you hear from God?
There are many ways we can hear from God but what would you say is the number one way in which you usually receive a word from God?
Maybe it’s when you’re having conversations with other Christians.
Or whenever you open your bible and read scripture.
It could even be in the middle of the night, when you’re lying unconscious on your bed.
Whatever it is, it always feels so significant when you hear the voice of God – especially with all the noise in our lives and the world around us. When God speaks to you, it’s like it’s just you and Him. Sometimes others are present, sometimes not.
Throughout the bible, we see God speaking to His people in different ways, meeting them where they were at to give them a word in season.
God does the same thing with us today.
We may not be confronted with burning bushes or encounter a light from heaven and a thunderous voice, but we can still hear from God. Even more so now that Jesus’ death and resurrection has given us God’s Spirit, who lives within those who call Him Lord and Saviour.
Just as our relationship with God is personal, our conversations with God are personal. That means the way God speaks to you might look different from how He speaks to me.
You see, there’s no formula to hearing from God. You don’t need to be a certain type of person – a pastor, leader or saint – you just need to be willing and open to hear. God is constantly speaking to His children. It’s up to us to adopt a posture that is ready to receive the message.
And there are a few ways we can do that.
1. By reading the Word of God
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. | Romans 15:4
I believe there’s no better way to receive a word from God than to read the Word of God. Scripture is God-breathed; it’s a compass by which we navigate through this life and this world.
Unsure of how to approach a difficult person or situation? Read God’s Word.
Need to make a big decision? Read God’s Word.
Looking for direction on the next step to take? Read God’s Word.
You get where I’m going here. God’s word is alive and powerful (Hebrews 4:12); it’s as relevant to us today as it was at the time it was written. Don’t underestimate the power of hearing from God simply by reading His Word daily!
All the other ways (listed below) complem
ent hearing from God through the Word of God. In fact, any time we receive a message from God by any other means, we should immediately line it up to His Word. If it doesn’t align with the truth shared in the bible, it’s not from Him.
Also, the more you read God’s Word, the more you get to know Him and the easier it is to recognise His voice when He’s speaking to you.
2. In prayer
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. | Matthew 6:6
Like any other conversation, conversations with God are a two-way street. When you say something to another person, you generally expect them to respond, right? In the same way, when you speak to God, He speaks to you.
The intimacy of conversations with God is a beautiful thing. It’s like speaking to your best friend, who’s also your good Father, Shepherd, Protector, Provider, and Creator.
Time in prayer is a time to be treasured. Which means after you say your bit, you kind of need to wait to hear His response. And it will come. It won’t always be the response you expect or when you expect it, but it will come.
3. Receiving prophetic words
Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well. | 1 Timothy 1:18
Prophetic words, along with words of knowledge, are ways God uses other believers to deliver a message to you. For me, I’ve found that God speaks to me through prophecies to confirm a word He’s already spoken to me, bring something I’ve forgotten back to my attention, or to share something others around me also need to hear.
Now, because a prophetic word involves another person, who may bring their own beliefs and experiences to the word given, it requires intentional stewardship.
What do I mean by stewardship? What you do immediately after hearing the word and in the months or years to follow, matters.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21, we’re told to test all prophecies we receive. We do that by testing it against the Word of God. Is it aligned with what God says? If so, hold on to it.
Many times, a prophetic word is for a future season. So, what do you do in the meantime? Pray over it. Write it down. And, as the apostle Paul says to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:18 – recall the prophecy so that “you may fight the battle” (the battle of faith) well.
4. Through dreams
For God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds. | Job 33:14-18
Dreams are one way of hearing from God that’s easy to miss. We either dismiss the dream as being too random (though it may be because it’s full of symbolism) or we give all our dreams too much credit and assume God is always the source.
But not all dreams are from God.
How do we tell the difference between dreams from God and those that aren’t?
From my personal experience (which may not be yours), I generally get a clue from how the dream makes me feel.
Some dreams are from our psyche – were you thinking about that person or matter during the day?
Other dreams are from the devil – did you wake up in a distressed state?
Dreams from God are usually symbolic and sent to change our minds and hearts about a matter. They can give a promise, a warning, a directive, judgement, prophetic insight, forewarning or correction.
I only realised that God was speaking to me through my dreams about 4 or 5 years ago. Once I started writing the dreams down and asking the Holy Spirit to help me interpret, I found that the dreams were coming more frequently. When we’re faithful with what God gives and reveals to us, He gives us more (Matthew 25:23). I now have a dream journal I keep beside my bed so I can write down a dream from God as soon as I wake up.
5. In still moments
The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” | 1 Samuel 3:10
When young Samuel (a priest and prophet in training) heard the voice of God, he was “lying down in the house of the Lord” (verse 3). The bible doesn’t specify whether Samuel was awake or asleep but what we can gather from this is that it was quiet and still when God’s voice came to him.
Again, in 1 Kings we see Elijah the prophet hearing from God in the stillness:
Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:11-13
I think sometimes we expect hearing from God to be an extravagant event we will remember for the rest of our lives. At times, it can be. But most of the time we hear God best when we are still before Him (Psalm 46:10). His voice then comes to us almost like a whisper.
I’ll admit, sometimes when I hear that still, small voice, I wonder whether it’s just my own thoughts. Then I remember that my thoughts are generally not so profound!
I encourage you to create space for moments of stillness in your day, even if it’s just 5 minutes, and wait upon the Lord. See what he says to you.
6. Through nature
Remember Moses and the burning bush?
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.”
Our encounters with God through nature today may not be as dramatic but they are no less significant. Creation is the product of God’s handiwork (Psalm 95:4-5), so it should come as no surprise that He also uses what He’s created to speak to us as His children.
Personally, I feel God’s presence more than hear His voice when I’m in nature. But I’ve found that when I intentionally spend time in nature in pursuit of an encounter with God, it clears my mind and reduces the noise that often stands in the way of me hearing from God.
Then, when I look around me – really look – I begin to see God teaching me about how He works. Whether it’s by observing the crashing waves, the unity of a flock of birds flying together above me, or the force of wind pushing against me as I walk – God uses it.
We just need to look.
These are just a few ways you and I can hear from God. Of course, there are other methods God uses to speak to His people, I’ve just limited this blog to the ways I’ve personally heard from God in my walk with Him.
To learn more about hearing the voice of God, I encourage you to read the book Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship With God by Dallas Willard. It gave me so much insight on how to develop greater intimacy with God through conversation.
If you have any stories about hearing from God in your own life, I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below or send me a note.