Learning how to hear God’s voice is the most important thing you can do when trying to find your purpose.
God is the creator of the universe and everything in it which means he created us. If we want to truly know who we are and what we were created to do, then we have to get to know him intimately and that happens when we regularly commune with him. Our God is a god that still speaks. He speaks to us all the time and even created a way to get messages to us when we are sleeping.
I know people often talk about hearing the voice of God but I think that can be misleading and it’s really because of the use of the words “hearing” and “voice.” Those words imply that there is a sound and a lot of the communication God does with us has no audible sound.
Because people are looking to actually hear the audible voice of God, they miss God when he is communicating with them in other ways. God’s voice is expressed in other ways like peace, lack of peace or uneasiness about something, and many other ways.
In this episode about how to hear God’s voice, I’ll be discussing:
- Methods God Uses to Communicate
- Things that can hinder your ability to hear from God
- Tips for listening for God
Alright, let’s get into the content.
I think a great place to start when trying to understand how to hear God ‘s voiceclearly is to understand how we, as humans, are made. We have three major components: body, soul, and spirit.
Let’s start with the outermost layer, which is the body. Your body is the physical, tangible part of you that you can see with your eyes. It’s what houses your vital organs like your brain and heart. It also houses your blood, skin, and bones.
Now, let’s explore one layer deeper into our makeup and look at the soul. Your soul is invisible. It makes up your personality. If you have ever wondered why you are the way you are. Why do you prefer certain things over others? This is it. Some things about you are a part of how God made you when He created you. Your soul has 4 sub-components: your mind, your conscience, your will, and your emotions. Here’s a little about each one, starting with the mind.
- Mind. You use your mind to perceive things and to think. It is your processor.
- Conscience. Your conscience is the part of you that is aware. You often use your conscience to evaluate and assess the morality and appropriateness of your actions. It’s your measuring tool for what’s right and what’s wrong.
- Will. Your will is what you use for decision making. In other words, your will is what you use to exercise power over your emotions and your actions.
- Emotions. Your emotions are what allow you to feel.
Your spirit is the other invisible portion of you. It has been best described as the essence of who you are. This is the part of you that deeply craves connection with a higher power.
“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” – Blaise Pascal
Your spirit is how you connect with God and it’s how you hear from God because God is a spirit. When you accept Christ into your life the Spirit of God, what we also call the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost, comes to live on the inside of you.
The Holy Spirit speaks directly to your human spirit. When your human spirit is strong and tapped into the Holy Spirit you are able to 1) hear God, and 2) operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit more efficiently.
In essence, when you are trying to hear God’s voice, the Holy Spirit within you is where you start.
Ways to Hear God's Voice
God communicates with us in ways that can fit into two categories: naturally and supernaturally. There are multiple methods of communication in each of these categories but in this episode, I’ll be discussing three.
1. Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit will stir up our internal convictions about decisions we need to make.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t have his own agenda. He speaks the mind of God and the will of God. He prompts us inside in many different ways. Here are some:
- Words in our spirit. Sometimes you can hear actual words. Others actually see words flash across their vision.
- Peace/Lack of Peace. We have a right to peace. Jesus was punished for our peace. Peace or a lack of peace about something is one way the Holy Spirit can lead us.
- Inspired divine thought. These are thoughts that bypass our brain. It could be that you need to apologize even when you think you are right. An inspired divine thought is what led me to start The Purpose Collective as a ministry. I knew it was from God because I wasn’t even thinking about anything related to purpose or teaching around the time.
Here’s what that can look like:
You may feel this burden to do something. By burden, I mean duty or responsibility. For example, you may feel a responsibility to help victims of human trafficking. You don’t quite understand why, especially since you’ve never been a victim of human trafficking or any crime committed by someone else against you. Nevertheless, you feel this duty to do something about it and it won’t go away.
This is how God can speak to us through the Holy Spirit. If this happens to you, then what you want to do is slow all the way down, spend some quiet time with God, and ask God to help you understand how He is trying to guide you in this area.
2. The Word of God
If you want to hear God’s voice and you want to hear from him fast, binge his written word in the Bible. The inerrant, authoritative word of God is living and breathing and it is one of God’s primary ways of communicating with us.
For You have magnified Your word above all Your name. Psalms 138:2
The word of God is what is holding this entire world together and God speaks to us through it. He reveals himself and his nature through the bible.
Quick bible reading tips:
- Pray before you read the Bible. The bible was written by inspiration of the holy spirit. Pray and ask him to reveal to you what God is communicating to you through the text. This is so important. Believers receive revelation through the word because we have the spirit of the author in us to help us. That’s why people who are not Christians struggle to believe the bible. They see foolishness when they read the words on the pages.
- Take your time. Bible reading plans are cool but they sometimes promote you reading through the Bible quickly without internalizing and meditating on what you are reading, and meditation is important. Meditating on the word allows you to learn and internalize what you are reading and it activates your faith in that text. It allows you to really start visualizing how the word speaks to you and applies to you specifically.
- Listen. As you are reading, you want to first figure out what the scripture is revealing about Jesus and then you want to evaluate whether you receive a Rhema word from the text. A rhema word is when God communicates personally to us, through the Holy Spirit. You will know it because it will almost be like the words leaped off of the page to you. It could be a scripture you have heard a hundred times, but when you heard it this time, it spoke directly to you or to your situation.
This is an area where people tend to fall on one of two extremes. They either place a lot of emphasis and weight on what people say or they discount how people can be a messenger of God.
A lot of people tend to discount a message because of the messenger. What I mean is, God speaks through people and sometimes the people he uses are not people that you may want to receive the message from because of one reason or another.
I remember earlier this year when a prophet was rebuking Beyonce, a lot of people didn’t want to receive what she was saying even though what she was saying was true and verifiable because Beyonce does not hide her worship of other gods. Now, a lot of that was satanic deception. Those people have scales over their eyes where Beyonce is concerned, so they literally found every excuse to not listen to the prophet.
They wanted to discount her message because she wrote erotic novels back before she accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior. It makes no sense to criticize someone for sinning or engaging in sin when they weren’t Christians who knew or believed in the idea of sin.
They also wanted to discount her message because of her delivery which from a spiritual perspective doesn’t make sense because rebuke is a sharp criticism. It’s meant to cut.
The Bible says...
“rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.” Titus 1:13 ESV. Scripture also says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love,” Proverbs 27:5 ESV. It goes on even further to say, “It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:5 ESV.
People also tend to reject messages from people who behave contrary to how they think a messenger from God should behave. They may engage in sinful activities or they might be rough around the edges.
The problem with that is God will use whoever and whatever to get a message to you. He used a donkey, he used a prostitute…
We must be able to hear God’s voice when he is speaking, no matter the messenger.
Supernatural vs. Spectacular
A lot of times we can miss the supernatural things in our life like being about to hear God’s voice because we’re expecting them to come in a spectacular way. I remember someone I know was going through something. I had been praying for them during my quiet time and one day I had this prompting about what the root of that person’s issue could be and God led me to a solution. The next time we spoke, I pitched the issue and solution to them and I remember towards the end of the conversation they said something about how they had been praying for God to give them some direction in that area but that they hadn’t heard anything.
After hearing that, I was flabbergasted, because here I was—someone who had been praying for them about the area they needed guidance in. After I prayed, I had a prompting, likely from the Holy Spirit, of what the cause and solution to their problem could likely be. This person knows I hear from God clearly but because they were likely expecting God to respond in some kind of a spectacular way, they initially discounted the fact that God was likely communicating directly to them through me.
I said all of that to say, don’t dismiss the message because of the messenger. God speaks through people and He often uses those who are willing to listen and obey.
Hindrances to Hearing God
Let’s explore some things that may change your ability to hear God’s voice. I want to preface this by saying this list of hindrances is not exhaustive. They are what I see most often though.
- Busyness. It’s hard to hear God when we are overly busy. Some of us are wayyy too busy doing good things but not the right things. When our minds are focused on completing tasks, we tend to miss the subtle promptings from God.
- Substances. Substances alter our normal brain functioning. The enemy has some people thinking they function better on drugs which is a lie from the pits of hell, but that line of thinking is what keeps people indulging in addictive drugs.
- Idolatry. Idolatry is idol worship. Idols are any person, place, thing, or thought that you look to as your source. Idols misrepresent and diminish the glory of God. The true living God. Some people idolize their jobs, their kids, their appearance, their status in the community.
- Demonic strongholds. Strongholds are destructive patterns of thought that lead people astray and hold them hostage to sinful, harmful, and addictive behavior. Strongholds are established over time and they are fortified by resistance. Demonic strongholds are designed by the enemy to keep people from getting free. It’s demonic oppression. When a stronghold is operating in your life like fear, bondage, heaviness, it’s hard to hear from God, especially in that area where the stronghold is operating.
Tips for listening
1. Study the real, not the counterfeit.
When you want to know or assess the authenticity of something you have to spend time with it, studying it. I have a friend who owns a really popular sneaker store in Atlanta. One day we were out at dinner and one of his employees called. She had purchased a pair of designer sneakers for resale, I think they were some retro Jordans. She sent him a picture and he immediately knew that the shoes she purchased were not authentic Jordan’s. They were fake. When he finished the call I asked him how he knew the shoes were fake and he simply said, I know what to look for because I’ve studied the real shoes so much that I can spot a fake.
That’s how well we should know God and his nature. We should be able to spot the enemy the moment he rears his ugly head.
A man approached me...
A couple of months ago, a man approached me trying to convince me that I needed to study other religions because knowing what else is out there would help me develop a stronger belief in and relationship with God. That sounded like utter foolishness to me. God tells us in his word to come close to him and he will come close to us. God also says that if we need wisdom, we can ask him for it. So if we desire to grow closer to God, the answer is to get closer to him and ask him to help us understand him. Nowhere does it say in scripture that we should explore other religions.
2. Evaluate the Voice
There are many voices speaking to us so we not only need to hear God’s voice, we also need to be able to distinguish his voice from other voices.
One of my pastors mentioned some questions to ask when you have heard or discerned something in your spirit and you believe it may be God. I’m going to share them with you.
- How is the voice dealing with you? The first question to ask is “How is the voice dealing with you?” Is it aggressive? Is it peaceful?
- What is the voice saying? God’s voice will never contradict scripture. Is it building you up? Does it tear you down saying things like “you’re worthless,” “no one loves you,” or “give up.” These are not things that God would say to you because God is always leading us towards peace and hope.
- Where is this voice leading you? Where is it taking you, not just physically and geographically but mentally as well. Any voice that is trying to lead you to destruction, quitting, death and anything else detrimental to your well-being, is not the voice of the Lord.
A lot of people approach fasting as a way to get God to do something which is interesting because we can’t make God do anything. What fasting does facilitate is our ability to silence the noise and hear clearly from God. When we put our flesh under submission, we can hear the things being spoken to our spirit by the Holy Spirit. This is an excellent way to hear God’s voice.
If you enjoyed this episode about how to hear God’s voice, then you may also enjoy the episode of the show about the fear of success and how it hinders purpose or this episode detailing what to expect when operating in your purpose.
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