Every Christian has heard the stories of people who have had God come to them in a dream or have literally heard His voice booming down from Heaven. While these are incredible stories that demonstrate the Lord’s presence, for many of us they can also be discouraging. You may find yourself asking, “Well why doesn’t God talk to me? What’s so special about those other people?”
I am among the majority of Christians who have never seen God’s writing in the sky or heard His voice loud and clear. Although there have been many times when I’ve looked back at a situation and realized that God was in fact pushing me in a certain direction and helping me to make a decision, I’ll admit that I often find myself thinking, “It’d be so much easier if God would show me this while I was making the decision, not after.” But here’s the thing: God doesn’t always operate this way, and sometimes it’s up to us to discern God’s will instead of just waiting around for Him to tell us what to do.
I am by no means an expert on this topic, and like I already mentioned, this is something that I struggle with, too. But there are a few things that I’ve learned and am trying to put into practice, and I want to share them with you.
Hearing God’s voice through the Bible
The Bible is made up entirely of God’s word and His message to us! This may seem incredibly straightforward, but it’s something that a lot of us (including myself) don’t always think of when longing for God to give us some direction. Although this information is not tailored to every single situation that you will find yourself in, God gives us advice and direction on so many topics. A great way to find this advice is to look at the concordance in the back of your Bible, which is essentially an index by topic. You can also always just google whatever it is that you’re struggling with and find Scripture that way.
Hearing God’s voice through uncontrollable circumstances
We’ve all experienced the situation where you’ve created what you think is the “perfect” plan for yourself, just to see it disintegrate right in front of you. Whether this is a breakup, a job opportunity falling through or some other missed opportunity, this is usually incredibly disappointing and upsetting. However, instead of looking at the situation as, “What could I have possibly done differently to change the outcome?” look at it as, “Maybe this is God’s way of telling me that this wasn’t His plan.” Although this is hard to accept, especially if it was something that you really wanted, God doesn’t usually get much clearer than this.
Hearing God’s voice through “a poke in the ribs”
In The Art of Discerning God’s Will, Rick James coins this as discernment through an impression. This may come as a thought, a strong feeling or a mental picture. For example, recently I was in a situation where I had been praying about and looking for an opportunity to talk to a friend about God, when suddenly I had the thought, “This is the right time to bring the topic up,” and I did!
For me, this is one of the hardest things to discern. It’s not always as straightforward as the example that I just gave, and it’s often difficult for me to determine whether it’s God talking or just my mind. However, this is something that I hope I can get better at with time by making a concerted effort to consider the possibility that it is God talking to me rather than just my own thoughts.
I hope that one day I will have the opportunity to hear God’s voice ringing down to me, loud and clear. But until that day I’m going to make it my personal mission to listen for God’s voice in these three ways, and I hope you do too!