By Janet Thompson, Crosswalk.com
I wouldn’t be married to my husband today or be in ministry if I hadn’t recognized the voice of God and listened to him speaking to me! While the Lord has many ways of speaking to his people, I’ve had the amazing experience of hearing him speak to me loud and clear. It’s my testimony.
After being a single mom for seventeen years, I surrendered my dating life to the Lord and prayed for God to bring a godly man into my life. Several months later, I met Dave in a small group at church. We dated for a few months and then I broke up with him. He convinced me to go to church with him and I suggested we go to a Greg Laurie Harvest Crusade after church. I heard God speaking to my heart when Pastor Laurie asked if we were ready to die. I wasn’t.
I rededicated my life to the Lord that night. As Dave and I sat in the car talking until the parking lot was empty, I distinctly heard the Lord say, “You asked for this godly man. I gave him to you. Now rededicate yourself to this relationship too.” Dave and I married five months later and will celebrate our thirtieth anniversary this year.
After our wedding, I sensed the Lord calling me into ministry, but I didn’t know where, so I started seminary and asked everyone I knew to pray for me. Seeking an answer from God, I attended a Women in Ministry Leadership Conference where I heard God say, “Feed my sheep.” I asked, “What sheep, where, and what will I feed them when I find them?” I heard again, “Feed my sheep.” I again recognized God’s voice and said, “Okay.” I began taking steps to start the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, which continues to be a vibrant ministry twenty-seven years later!
Let’s look at some of the signs God is speaking to you too.
“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Luke 8:8
How Does God Speak to Us Today?
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27
In The Believer’s Code, O.S. Hawkins writes, “We who are Christ’s sheep know His voice, and of course we follow Him: He is our shepherd. We have a God who speaks to us. Do you hear His voice speaking to your heart through his Word and by his Spirit even right now? God’s voice is recognizable to His sheep. Ask Him to help you hear it.”
Jesus talks to every Christian in a way that will get his or her attention. It might not be a clear voice, which I’ve only heard several times, although I pray every morning, “I declare myself—spirit, mind, emotions, body, will—totally open to your voice and totally available to do your will alone.” Then I look for signs God is speaking to me throughout my day.
God is multi-dimensional and uses all our senses to reach us. The Bible is referred to as “God’s Word” so what better place for him to speak to us, but we have to be reading our Bible to receive his counsel through the Scriptures. We’ve all had the experience of reading a verse that we’ve read many times and then suddenly it jumps out at us in an “aha” moment speaking directly to our current situation.
God also speaks through sermons, books, songs, blogs, podcasts, speakers, radio, mentoring, fellowship with other believers, social media, and yes, even movies and television to inspire and convey a message to our hearts. The key to hearing God is anticipating him to speak and listening when he does. I always have a notepad near me because I never know when God is trying to give me a message, sometimes in the most unlikely places like watching the news!
4 Signs God Is Speaking to You
In the midst of mundane life routines, God will show up in various ways to confirm that yes it is him speaking to you. Answering your requests. Giving you new ideas. Even initiating an action he wants you to take. I often experience this when I’m thinking of a new book or article topic. Suddenly, I see that topic everywhere in the news, in conversations, or my preacher preaching on it. I know God is telling me to write about it.
In my “Feed my sheep” testimony in the opening of this article, the following morning after I heard God speaking to me, the conference speaker taught on John 21:15-17 where Jesus told Peter if you love me, “Feed my sheep.” I practically jumped out of my chair as I saw the speaker’s topic was shepherding women in your church. There was no denying God was speaking to me and confirming that he expected me to do something I didn’t feel equipped to accomplish.
God will speak and confirm what he wants you to do if you’re seeking him in your daily activities and ambitions.
Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8
We encounter God during times of worship, prayer, and praise as we sense his presence and his voice. When we glorify God, we can hear him more clearly as our heart, mind, soul, and spirit communes with him.
When we’re going through hardship or dealing with extreme adversity, we tend to feel a desire to pray intensely and talk to God. We’re more alert to his response. When we’re seeking answers to major decisions or life circumstances, we’re focused on hearing from him and so we seek his face with persistence and intent and he does not disappoint.
And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father. Gal. 4:6 NLT
Photo Credit: Unsplash/John Price
3. Visible Circumstances
When you see events in your life that could only be God, he is trying to get your attention. He is speaking to you in ways you can’t deny. The Holy Spirit is opening doors of opportunity and closing others. Situations and people come into your life and you know without a doubt that God is the one orchestrating the circumstances. It’s no coincidence; it’s God telling and visibly showing you that he cares and will direct and guide your life if you listen and let him.
He may be directing you beyond your own interests and needs and showing you how he wants you to represent him in a culture that desperately needs Jesus. It’s not always about us when he speaks; it’s often about using us to fulfill his purpose and plans in the world.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Ps. 32:8
Maybe you’ve been hesitant to say or do something you sense God wants you to do. You’ve avoided the issue, tried to put it out of your mind, and then suddenly you know that you must take action, and you take it. That courage did not come from your own initiation. God spoke to and through you and you could not be silent. He prompted you and gave you the words to speak that could only be from him at just the right time with the clarity of his voice that calms and assures us he’s right beside us.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut. 31:6
How to Be Sure You Hear God When He Speaks
In my “Feed my sheep” testimony, I mentioned that I heard, listened, and followed. Each is an important element in continuing to hear from God.
Be Responsive— God wants his children to be receptive and responsive. When we hear God, we have a responsibility to obey and not place him amongst many other options. It’s an amazing privilege to converse with the Lord, but it’s also a tremendous commitment. He will let you know if you’re on the right path.
But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins. Luke 6:49 NLT
Expect God to Speak—when we pray and ask God for wisdom or for a request, we must believe, anticipate, and expect him to answer. It might not be in our timing, but he always answers in a way we will recognize.
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:6
Continuously Pray and Praise—When we pray, we will hear from God but a vital requirement to hearing from him again is to be persistent and acknowledge his voice even when it’s not what we want to hear or in our timeframe. We praise him for answering and guiding our life in the way he knows it should go even when we’d rather go another direction.
“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9 NLT
Peace—We must learn to discern God’s voice from all the other noise and options. One way to determine if we’re in God’s will and are hearing him speak clearly is when we have peace in our spirit. The turmoil and unrest disappear when we rely on the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts. God never wants us overanalyzing, worrying, or second-guessing. When he speaks, there is clarity and peace.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
Trust the Holy Spirit
I don’t know about you, but I often argue with the Holy Spirit. A thought will come into my mind that I’m not sure I want to do or am even capable of doing so I discard it. Or maybe it’s as simple as thinking I should call someone but I dismiss the thought because I have so many things to do and then I find out later the person was in a needy situation. I realize I was arguing with the Holy Spirit who was only trying to show signs of God speaking to me and prompt me to put everything aside and make the phone call. When I do follow my heart, I am reassured by the other person’s grateful response that I was indeed hearing from God.
Chris Tiegreen writes in his devotional, Hearing His Voice, “If the voice leads you toward spiritual fruitfulness, it’s probably God speak. If it doesn’t—if it leads to fear, guilt, doubt, anxiety, exasperation, and the sort of attitude that doesn’t fit the Kingdom—it isn’t God, it’s a voice from another source, a counterfeit bearing bad fruit. Knowing the difference will sharpen our hearing and keep our hearts and minds at peace.”
I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. Ps. 34:4
“Be still, and know that I am God! Ps. 46:10 NLT
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/PhotoAlto/EricAudras
Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 20 books. Her passion is to mentor other women in sharing their life experiences and God’s faithfulness. Janet’s new release is Everyday Brave: Living Courageously As a Woman of Faith available at Amazon, Christianbook.com, Barnes and Noble, and signed at author’s website. She is also the author of Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness; Forsaken God? Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources. Janet is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Visit Janet and sign up for her weekly blog and free online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com. Join Janet on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.