I have often been asked about hearing the voice of God. Christians want to know if God actually speaks to them and, if he does, how can you recognize his voice? How do you know if it is God speaking to you and not some other voice? In John 10, Jesus referred to his followers as his sheep and to himself as the Shepherd. Here is what he said about believers, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name … and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”
God Speaks to Every Believer
According to Jesus, he speaks to his sheep. It is not a strange or unusual event, but he does it regularly and in the normal course of life. Shepherds spoke to their sheep and led them every day. It was not a strange thing but a normal thing. You can be confident that God has spoken to you and that he does so regularly.
Believers Can Recognize God’s Voice
According to the words of Jesus, we can recognize the voice of God. When we recognize his voice, it should always lead to obeying and following Jesus. How do you know that God is speaking to you and not the devil or your own selfish sinful nature? God will never contradict his Word. For example, some people have told me that God was “speaking to them about leaving their spouse.” Their logic was that they were unhappy, God wants them to be happy, and, therefore, God must be leading them to get a divorce and marry someone else. That is not the voice of God but the voice of the enemy.
Sometimes we feel God speaking to us and we try to ignore it because we don’t want to do what he is leading us to do. That never works out well.
The Ways God Speaks to Us
Many people think that if God speaks, then it must be weird. We often equate it with an audible voice. I have never heard the audible voice of God. He can certainly do that if he chooses, but I think that is probably rare. There are many ways he speaks. Here are a few ways:
The most common way He speaks is through the Bible. That is God’s written Word to us, and it is the revealed will of God.
He speaks to us through hearing the Bible taught. Have you ever heard a preacher or teacher sharing the Word of God and it suddenly took ahold of your spirit? It was like a light came on in your soul. You had an “aha” moment. You had a new revelation or were convicted in your heart that you needed to change something in your life. That is God speaking.
The Holy Spirit speaks to us. When you got saved, the Holy Spirit spoke to you and drew you to faith in the Father. The Holy Spirit guides you and directs you toward the right decision by speaking to you in your spirit. He convicts us of our sin, shows us the righteousness of Jesus and the Father. The Bible says in different place that a “still, small voice” spoke. That is the Holy Spirit.
God can speak through visions and dreams. Kim and I both have experienced God speaking to us in this way. One must be careful to make sure that God is speaking though, because sometimes we may have just had a bad dream because we ate too much pizza.
God will often use other believers to speak into your life. That is why church and small group are important.
God speaks to us when we pray.
You Can Get Better at Hearing God Speak
I have learned to get better at hearing God’s voice. I do this by praying and asking God to speak to me when I read the Bible. I ask God to help me hear from his Word at church. I make a practice of stilling my soul and listening during my devotional times. Sometimes we don’t recognize God speaking to us because we are so busy and there is too much noise in our life.
Listening to the voice of Jesus is a critical component of our relationship to God. He does speak. He definitely speaks to you, but you must listen. When you ask God to speak and you practice listening, then you can be confident that he will speak to you in a way that you can follow him.