When I was introduced to my Savior, and He truly became the Lord of my life, making sense of the Scriptures and finding a community of like-minded individuals became a priority. My husband and I sought out more than the Sunday message and joined a “life group” as we desired to have mature Christians around to keep us focused on forging a solid relationship with our Father.
The years we spent with the incredible members of this group were blessed. The depths of faith, the wells of hope that sprang up, the encouragement and gentle teachings were exactly what we needed during a rough yet exciting season.
One night there was a discussion on how vital it was to consult God on every single decision. Some gave the impression that even in the simplest of choices, such as what to have for dinner, they pressed into the Lord. I remember this conversation well because it was one that the enemy grabbed hold of to use as an accusatory weapon. Comparison was tormenting me trying to convince me I was not “Christian” enough. It made sense to consult God on major decisions. We had been pressing in to get clarity on whether to do IVF or wait on God to heal me to conceive a child on our own. I also wanted God’s direction on His plan for my life. But truthfully, I had not on a daily basis asked God to advise me in meal planning. I had not asked Him whether to take the highway or go the back roads to church.
Consumed with worry that I was not doing this whole “Christian” thing right, I believed the negative voice that said I was going through the motions of a believer, but in reality, I was a fraud. I desired to be like the those I admired in my group, so I made the decision to ask God permission to do anything and everything. I was determined to see Isaiah 30:21 ring true in my life. It would be my ears that would hear a word, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
I am not trying to trivialize or belittle the fact that the Lord first and foremost be our counsel in our everyday lives. I was in a prison of my own making because I allowed some ridiculous comparison to warp my thinking. I was acting crazy asking God ludicrous questions, and when I heard no answer, I got upset. Why couldn’t I hear God? As time went on, I was convinced that something must be wrong with me!
I can’t remember how long it was before I finally heard Him, but when He did, the words spoken were ones I would never forget.
It was lunchtime – a perfect time to ask for guidance! There was a PotBelly and a Pei Wei next door to each other. I asked, “Father, where should I eat? Whatever parking spot is closest to the restaurant, I will know that is where you desire me to go.”
As I pulled into the lot, there was one spot available. It was literally between the two locations. (Smack dab in the middle!) I took the spot, threw the car into park, and asked the Lord, “Why?”
I sat there for a few seconds when I heard a soft voice say, “Child, I gave you a mind and a will to make choices that make you happy. You decide what you want to eat. You’ve missed the whole point. I don’t need you to ask me about every trivial thing. I want you to commune with me and trust me with your life.”
I couldn’t help but smile and laugh. I learned that day that I can and do hear His voice. I also learned that I needed to stop comparing myself to other Christians and focus solely on my relationship with God. And by the way, I enjoyed every bit of that PotBelly sandwich!
Not long after that tasty lunch, God would teach me how important it is press into what He is saying. Right after my daughter turned one, she was scheduled to have some blood work and x-rays done. She had been chronically ill, and we were trying to figure out why. The doctor requested we go to Cooks, and I heard the Lord caution me, “Wait seven days.”
I remember thinking this seems like a nutty thing to do, but I was really focused and hearing God and receiving what He was saying.
The morning of the seventh day, Averey woke up with a high fever. I spoke to the doctor who cleared us to go to the hospital and proceed with tests. Not a pleasant afternoon, but we got through it.
We were home about 15 minutes when the phone rang. It was the allergist calling with instructions for us to immediately take our daughter back where the emergency room staff would rush our daughter into CT and then possibly surgery. She explained the x-ray revealed a possible Peritonsillar Abscess, which is typically fatal in babies.
After the CT, the doctors were stunned. The abscess was at the very beginning stage and could be treated with a short hospital stay and a long course of high-dose antibiotics. No surgery would be required.
God gave me instructions to wait. I could have ignored the prompting, but waiting saved my daughter’s life. I learned one valuable lesson: If He is asking me to do something… Do it no matter how odd it seems.
God’s desire is to have a deep personal relationship with each one of us. God can comfort, guide, warn, caution, advise, counsel and commune with us on a daily basis, but we must understand the ways God speaks.
Whether you are new in your faith or attend a church that does not teach about hearing God, I am going to let you in on a little secret: God is always talking. We just have to tune in and adjust our frequency so that we can hear. Here’s how:
- Reading the Word. God speaks through His Word. Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.” I had been given a word from a stranger that I would have a natural child. I was battling with doubt after multiple miscarriages. God knew I needed an anchor – something to keep me grounded. That lifeline would be Luke 1:45; “Blessed is she who believes what is spoken will be accomplished.”
God spoke volumes through that Scripture and kept me focused on the promise and not my natural circumstances. I declared those Words daily until God healed me with no medical intervention and blessed us with our beautiful daughter.
- Be still and know I am God. It is recorded in the Gospels that Jesus would wander off to spend time with His Father. He would withdraw to places alone and hear His Father’s instructions (Matthew 26:36; Mark 1:34; Luke 5:16).
I’ve learned that God likes me a lot and wants to spend time with me. “Quiet time” is simply being intentional to have talks with God just like I have coffee and conversation with a close friend. There are no hard and fast rules to what this looks like. How I spend time with Christ is up to me. If you want to hear the voice of God, make the effort to talk with Him and then allow ample time to sit quietly so you can hear Him speak.
- Pray without ceasing. Billy Graham said, “Prayer is simply talking to God, and the most important thing I can say about this is that God wants you to talk to Him! He loves us, and He has promised to hear us when we pray.”
In the years of waiting for a child, I learned the value of consistent, intentional prayer. Praying became a part of my daily activities as much as bathing and eating. Praying is what draws God close, so the more you pray, the more opportunity there is to hear His voice. Some ways I use prayer in my life include:
• Offering God my day first thing in the morning is a daily surrender by inviting Him to have His way in my life.
• Giving praise for the blessings I see happening around me.
• Seeking His guidance on matters that arise and making petitions when needed.
• Asking for and accepting forgiveness daily – repenting of my sin and giving God the opportunity to give me the loving correction.
• Thanking God for the daily bread I received all day and for the sweet sleep and pleasant dreams that will come.
If you are struggling to hear God’s voice, here are five steps to help tune in:
1. Expect a gentle wise spontaneous thought instead of a loud booming voice
The Holy Spirit speaks directly to our souls bearing witness to the truth, convicting us and encouraging us. These thoughts often sound like our own voices yet the wisdom and knowledge go beyond spiritual maturity.
2. Not your will but His will be done
I had to lay down my pride and controlling nature and get over myself. Once I came to Him with a posture of surrender and told Him I desired to have His will in my life, I was transformed. Ask God to talk you about His perfect plan, and then follow His instructions.
3. Connect with the Holy Spirit
While the Holy Spirit dwells inside of us, we constantly need to be made aware of His presence. This is the key to enjoying the overflow of His peace, joy, and love. I connect with the Holy Spirit by first entering into a time of praise and worship. Others meditate in the Word of God while some prefer to go into an extended time of prayer.
4. Free your mind from the drama of the day
It’s hard to hear the voice of God when there’s a grocery list rattling around in our minds. Replaying the events of the day or forming tomorrow’s task list won’t do it either. But shifting away from stresses and to-dos of the day allows us to quickly feel His presence and tune into His voice.
5. Keep a journal and reflect on what was written
I love to journal and taking time to ask if what I hear lines up with Scripture. If it doesn’t, I throw it out because it is likely that I heard the voice of the enemy.
Keeping a journal and reflecting on what you hear is a great way to develop your discernment. The Bible tells us we are to take all of our thoughts captive into the obedience of Christ, which is not easy because we can often get tripped up in our own fleshly desires, emotions and feelings.
If you are not sure your word was from the Lord, ask Him to give you confirmation through a friend or even a stranger in the church. You’d be amazed at the ways God will let you know what He needs you to know.
Most importantly, remember this… you do not have to be an elder, pastor, prophetic voice or leader in the church to hear God. Every one of us is capable of hearing God’s voice. Give it a try and see for yourself what a blessing this can be in your life.