By Cortni Marrazzo, Crosswalk.com
"How can I hear God's voice?" is a common question asked by so many Christ-followers, both seasoned and brand new. Often people who are new to a relationship with God have a hard time understanding how someone they can't see can speak to them and people who have been walking with God for a long time can face dry seasons where it feels like God hasn't spoken to them lately. The bottom line is that (hopefully) we all want to hear from God in our lives, but in order to hear Him we need to be sure we are listening. How can we be sure to listen to a voice that is not audible to our physical human ears? Here are three ways we can help our spirits be open to hearing what He wants to tell us.
1. Expect to hear from Him
It’s not typical that God speaks to us in an audible booming voice from the sky. Elijah expected to hear God’s voice in this way, but he discovered that God typically speaks to us in the opposite way.
"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 NKJ
God spoke to Elijah in a still small voice, which actually leads many people to ask "How are we supposed to hear God’s voice in our lives if it’s so quiet and subtle?" I’ve personally found that when I'm actively expecting to hear God’s voice, I’m then more open to hear it. There are so many times in my life where I’ve had what I assumed was just a random thought, but later I realized it was actually God speaking to me. For instance, recently there was a couple at our church that my husband and I were getting to know better and I really just felt like we should have them over to our house for dinner to get to know them better. Thinking this was just my own random idea, I pushed that idea to my “we should do this someday” mental list (which is unfortunately a lot longer than I would like to admit). This “thought” kept mulling around in my head for a while and then one day we learned that this couple just experienced a tragedy in their lives and really needed some support. At that point, I knew my “random thought” was not just a coincidence, it was God nudging me to reach out to this couple.
When you decide to live each day expecting God to speak to you, you will begin to recognize when your seemingly random thoughts are actually God prompting you to call a friend, encourage a co-worker or give to a stranger. And when you have promptings like these and your natural mind immediately justifies why you shouldn’t do that thing (because it’s hard, or will cost you something, or will cause you to step out of your comfort zone) then you can usually guarantee that was a prompting from God!
2. Take time to prepare your heart
Expecting to hear God as He speaks to you each day is a novel goal, but how can we be sure to remember to be expectant with everything clamoring for our attention all day long? The key is preparing our hearts. When we spend time with God daily, reading His Word, praying, and doing what draws us close to Him, we prepare our hearts to hear from Him for the rest of that day. Just like a farmer has to till his field so the soil is ready and is in optimal condition for the seeds to grow, we have to do the same thing with our hearts.
I try to have at least 15 minutes of quiet time with God each morning, more if I can, but 15 minutes at a bare minimum. I’ve found that when I sit down to read my Bible and pray, it’s not often that God will share something profound with me right then and there (it could be because it’s so early in the morning and He knows I can’t fully grasp it, but that’s beside the point). What typically happens is that after I prepare my heart in worship and prayer, I’ll hear from God more later in the day, whether it’s in the shower, in the car, when I’m with my kids, or anywhere really. Taking the time to connect with God daily opens ourselves up to be able to hear from Him all day long.
Our pastor recently taught an amazing lesson on finding your "taproot" of how you connect with God the best (the taproot of a plant is the biggest, deepest root that draws most of the nourishment for the plant). Each of us have a way that we uniquely connect with God the deepest and easiest and when we find out what that is and spend time there, we connect with Him deeper and are more open to hear him speak to us. A few examples of some taproots are worship, writing, prayer, reading the Bible, and serving. (You can view that teaching video here: https://vimeo.com/121919587). I know my taproot is writing because when I sit down to write things out, I often find myself writing out verses and encouraging words that I know didn't come from my own brain. There is something about the way God wired me that allows me to connect with Him more strongly when I'm writing. In fact, pretty much every article I have written for Crosswalk has been as a result of my searching the Scriptures and writing from a struggle I've faced. I've had numerous people tell me that I'm very good at explaining Scriptures and points in a way that they can understand and apply to their situation, but honestly it's just God's words that He speaks to me (and then others) through my writing because it's how I hear Him best!
3. Spend time with Godly people
My husband and I have recently become the Life Group directors at our local church and our jobs revolve around helping people get connected into small groups of people who will help them grow in their spiritual lives. We are passionate about this because we have experienced the life changing power of friendships with godly people through our small groups over the years. There have been countless times when God has spoken to us through these people, whether it was through words they physically spoke, by simply witnessing their character in tough situations, or even by God using us to be a blessing in their lives. God created us to be in relationship with others, especially others in the family of faith and He uses these to speak to us and bless our lives.
"Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching." Hebrews 10:23-25 MSG
Life gets busy very quickly, which is why we have to be sure to be intentional about making time to spend with the godly people in our lives, or to take the steps to begin to build those friendships if we don’t have them yet. There is so much that we miss out on from God if we don’t cultivate and engage in these relationships in our lives.
Hearing God’s voice in our lives is not cumbersome, impossible, or only for the “super spiritual,” it is for every person who has a relationship with God. In fact, God speaking to us is a huge part of our walk with Him! By making a few tweaks in our habits and in our minds, we can be sure to be listening for His voice and experience the transformation that comes when we follow His direction and receive His encouragement and love in our lives.
Publication date: September 14, 2015