One of my chief pursuits in life is learning how to hear God’s voice–and helping you do the same. I just experienced two beautiful examples over the past couple days that I’d like to share today.
My girls and I were talking about how to hear God on our drive home from a work weekend. I emphasized that God speaks through his Word; it’s hard to know it’s God if you don’t know what you’re listening for. That is why Scripture is referred to as the Living Word.; it’s one of the ways God speaks to us. Fast forward two days and this morning I opened my daily devotional and guess what the topic was? Hearing God’s voice! In part it read:
We long for God to speak to us in a way that is clear; however, most of the time he does not speak out loud. Rather, he speaks through the Word, in a quiet whisper, through a friend’s loving encouragement or in our thoughts.Imagine Heaven Devotional, John and Kathy Burke
I took a photo and sent it to my girls. It’s not the first time I’ve done that recently.
Yesterday a dear friend was preparing for a difficult personal meeting in which she would be required to speak truth to power; she was understandably nervous. The plan was for me to be there by her side, but that plan changed unexpectedly. So I committed to pray over the meeting. As I began to do so this verse came to mind:
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.Psalm 34: 18
I sent her the verse before the meeting began. And while she was in it, I read the entirety of Psalm 34 and was astounded by how timely and relevant its verses were to her circumstances. She has been hard-pressed and unheard for nearly a decade, yet she is still standing. In Psalm 34 David writes promises like these that speak directly to her heart:
“Let the afflicted hear and rejoice.”
“Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”
“This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.”
“Taste and see that the LORD is good.”
“Seek peace and pursue it.”
“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.”
Beautiful. Amazing. Divine.
This is how God speaks to me.
By coincidence. So often when I speak to my children about God, my next devotional will put a fine point on the discussion. Many days this summer I snapped a photo of the text and sent it to them saying, “Can you believe this is what I read today?”
Through Scripture. I also have learned to pay close attention when Bible verses pop into my head, especially when I am praying for someone else. I Google them to see where they are in the Bible, and then I meditate over them. They often contain the truth God wants me to hear about a situation that transcends the specific circumstances I’m praying about.
I think it’s worth noting that in both of these examples it seems that I hear God most clearly when my focus is on loving others rather than myself. When we are lifting up others in prayer, perhaps that simple act also invites God to sanctify our hearts to become more Christlike.
The other reason, I believe, is that we tend to get bogged down in our own troubles, and are less able to hear God clearly through our emotional stew. When we are watching another’s story, rather than living it ourselves, it’s that much easier to see God at work.
Finally, what I’ve learned about hearing God is that you simply can’t hear him, and be confident in his voice, without knowing his Word. That’s why he gave it to us.
Why not take a moment right now? Sit quietly and invite the LORD who loves you to bring a verse to mind. He is always speaking wisdom, truth and love over us. It is a joyful pursuit to learn how to hear him.
The Spirit shows what is true and will come and guide you into the full truth. The Spirit doesn’t speak on his own. He will tell you only what he has heard from me, and he will let you know what is going to happen.John 16:13
Ask me, and I will tell you things that you don’t know and can’t find out.Jeremiah 33:3
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3: 16-17
Speak Lord, your servant is listening.1 Samuel 3:10