Have you ever wondered what people mean when they say things like, “God said to me …”, or “I heard God say…”? Maybe you have experienced what you believed was God’s voice speaking to you, but still wondered, “Are these my own thoughts, or is God speaking to me?”
Recognizing God’s voice may seem like a struggle, but when you believe this one truth — God loves to speak to His children — then you can learn “how to recognize” his voice. This is a spiritual ability given to a child of God that is learned through time and consistency.
How to Recognize God’s Voice:
1. God speaks today. That’s the first place we need to start. To believe that God speaks. And when He does, change happens. Change in our thoughts, in our emotions, in our direction. When God speaks, He will choose to be heard primarily through His Word, the soft whisper of the Holy Spirit in our mind and heart, His pastors, and other believers. But when He speaks directly to you and me, we need to understand that He is speaking because of this one simple reason – He still does. He spoke “In the beginning” at creation, as He spoke audibly through angels, prophets and the pre-incarnate of Christ. God still speaks and we’d be wise to not only believe that, but to want His speaking, His voice in our life.
2. God speaks His Scripture. One way to know you are hearing God’s voice, is to align everything with His holy Word. God does not tells us to do something that is not in alignment with Scripture. This is why it’s so important that we read our Bibles! Why we should love and prioritize spending time reading the pages of Scripture, because as we do, we are reading the heart of our God. And when He speaks, He speaks His Word. For example: The other day I was on top of our kitchen counter with a paint roller in my hand, rolling paint onto the back board of our kitchen cabinets. I had just finished spraying paint hinges, cutting in corners of the cabinets with a brush, and just loving it all! So as I squatted down on that counter, I prayed and said, “God, WHY…why do I love this so much? Why do I love all home renovation stuff…painting, caulking, building, renovating, planting, hammering…why do I love this so much?” The words were not out of my mouth, until my Father’s voice brought me to tears. I recognized His voice as He said, “I made you this way. You’ve been fearfully and wonderfully made.” Tears. It was a sweet moment with my Father, and He answered me with His Word. Immediately. And when I heard His voice, it was through the “surfacing of His Word that is in me” that He brought up to my mind and my emotions. That’s the reason for the tears. When God speaks, there will be a response. And He never speaks opposite of His nature. His nature is compassion and I felt His Voice saying that to me, as much as I heard Him.
3. While praying, a thought comes to our mind. Going back to my example in Point #2, while we are in prayer, if a thought or an idea or a definite direction comes to our mind, it’s a good practice to act on it immediately IF it lines up with Scripture. For example: When I was praying one morning, this thought came to mind: “Write notes to all the ladies in your small group.” It was a thought that literally popped into my mind, almost appearing to be a random thought. But, I did just that. And the ladies shared with me personal stories of “why” and “how” their individual notes came to them right when they needed it, or how it confirmed what they had been hearing from the Lord. When we are in prayer, the Holy Spirit speaks God’s word to us in this way at times: a thought that will come to our mind, and usually it’s a thought that will require an action on our part – to obey, to confess, to seek peace in a relationship, to give to someone, to make a call, etc. Now, it’s when a thought comes to my mind that would require much larger commitments, much larger changes in the direction of my life that I will often times wait on God to confirm…..for that thought to either grow stronger in my heart, or for God to repeat His message to me. Which leads to the 4th way we can recognize God’s Voice.
4. God will often times repeat His words. For me, when God’s message or words of direction come to me in 3’s, I have this “agreement” with God that my total obedience will follow. I will no longer question it, but instead get going in what He has affirmed. Even if I’m afraid, I still obey. When I read a verse or Scripture and sense that the Lord is speaking to me, then I hear my pastor preach on the same Scripture or topic, then a friend shares something with me that highlights it again, or I read something in a Christian publication, then I know God is bringing it up again and again and again … giving me plenty of room and chances to hear His Voice, to the point that I will walk forward in faith into what He is saying. If I think I’m hearing from God but am not quite sure, I will ask for such confirmations in my life. His confirmations are a blessing to us! Write in your journal and track His voice through such “repetitions” and you will be able to hear AND see the Voice of God in your life.
5. A desire or passion in us grows stronger and deeper as He waters it with His Voice (His Words.) You recognize it’s God’s Voice when what you are hearing through His Word, through the still small nudgings of His Holy Spirit, and through the repetition of His message causes a real passion and desire in you to only grow stronger and stronger. When God’s voice is recognized, it fuels your enthusiasm to be obedient. It is what Scripture calls zeal. Zeal for the Father’s house consumed Jesus. Why? Because His house was His bride. Jesus also said, “I MUST be about my Father’s business.” Why? Because His life was fueled, fed, and fired up by the Voice of His Father. Same will be true in your life:
You MUST be about a certain task.
You MUST make that call to an estranged friend.
You MUST give to that charity or ministry.
You MUST carry out His adoption plans for your family.
You MUST pursue that mission field.
You MUST write that letter. Write that song. Take THAT step of faith that scares you to death, but you know on the other side is your calling.
As you recognize God’s voice, there WILL be an “idea” first. An idea to DO something. Write it down. Keep praying about it, and keep walking in that direction. IF that idea or that direction was God speaking to you, then it will grow – it will root and grow into a ministry – a calling – a mission – a “must be about” in your own life. Literally, the will of God will be so in your face, that you will nearly believe that God’s speaking to you face-to-face. He never shouts, but He definitely knows how to grow IN US the words He is speaking to us – for our good and His glory! This is why it’s critical that we stay in His word daily.
6. His Voice requires from us, faith. Because Scripture says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” Heb. 11:6, that one verse alone affirms that recognizing God’s voice will position us to walk by faith…to do works that demonstrate our faith. So often when God speaks, it’s not to drastically take us off the path we are on, but to orchestrate circumstances in our life so that our NEXT step demands faith. To invest total trust in Him. It may be a very LARGE next step – moving to a new city or state, adopting another child into our family, saying yes to a calling He has placed in our life with 100% of our devotion and discipline, no more sloppy living, no more complaining or whining. He is pleased when we move forward in faith – and to recognize God’s voice means to understand that His voice will always BUILD our faith in Him. His voice will always require us to make decision and choices so that our trust in Him is growing stronger and stronger. This is where I am in my life – I know the Lord is repeating a message to me. It’s waaaaaay beyond the “idea” stage, but now He is repeating a message to me that will demand a COLOSSAL STEP of faith. He is asking me to put my foot into the Jordan and place my faith in Him parting the waters….the waters that try to keep me doubting if he “really” wants me to step forward. The element of risk is there, yes. But the element of faith is, too! And if I’m going to live, I’m going to live by faith!
How about you? How is God speaking to you? How has this helped you in recognizing His voice over your own, or the voice of the world? I’d love to hear your thoughts…
Have a blessed day y’all!