5 Tips for Hearing God's Voice
I still remember when I realized that prayer was more than talking to God, but also listening to what He had to say to me. Since then, more and more of my “prayer time” has been spent in silence, trying to tune in to what God is trying to say to me. The results have been tremendous and fulfilling.
Are you wanting to be a better listener to God? Here are a five tips from the childhood story of the prophet Samuel, (found in 1 Samuel chapter 3), that have been a great help to me.
1. Believe that God wants to speak to you. The Bible is clear on this, God wants to have a relationship with you! And the key to any good relationship is communication. When God first speaks to Samuel he is just a boy. He doesn’t become an important figure until later. In fact, one could make the argument that Samuel becomes great because he developed the habit of tuning into God’s voice. You may think that you are not important, but God loves to speak to ordinary people.
2. Find a time and place to listen for God’s voice. Busyness and noise have grown significantly over the last decade or two, making it increasingly difficult to hear God’s still and quiet voice. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Samuel heard God’s voice when he was in a place devoted to meeting with God (the tabernacle near the Ark of the Covenant) and at a time when the hustle and bustle of the day had passed (in the evening). Richard Foster suggests in his book, Celebration of Disciplines, that we dedicate a place for our meetings with God. It could be a chair, or a spare room, or a park, or a place of worship that is dedicate to our conversations with God. I have also found it helpful to schedule regular time with God. I put other appointments on my calendar, so that I won’t forget. Why not schedule my time with God?
3. Learn to recognize God’s voice. Just as an infant must learn to recognize his/her parent’s voice, so too we have to learn what God’s voice sounds like to us. Even though Samuel literally grew up in the “House of the Lord”, and was raised by the High Priest of Israel, Samuel did not recognize God’s voice at first. Some people I know hear God very clearly through the Scripture. Others hear Him best through nature, service, silence, art, music, godly counsel, etc. Learning the way God speaks to you, may take some experimenting. That is why the next step is so important.
4. Verify what you think God is saying to you. Many of us have heard someone say, “God told me ____________” and you knew it wasn’t God. You don’t want to be one of those people. So how do we know if what we are hearing is truly from God. Samuel heard something that must have seemed pretty crazy to him. Fortunately, his mentor forced Samuel into a verification process. Here is the process I use when trying to determine if what I am hearing is from God. First, I examine whether what I am hearing lines up with the teaching of the Bible. Second, I submit it to those who are mature in the faith for confirmation. Third, I evaluate whether it lines up with “what” and “how” God has spoken to me in the past. And fourth, like Gideon in the Old Testament, I will sometimes ask for a sign or a tangible confirmation from God that what I think I am hearing is correct.
5. Follow through on what you hear. Nothing will cause God to give you the silent treatment more than failing to follow through on what He has already revealed to you. God speaks to Samuel because Samuel was willing to respond to God’s voice. He didn’t speak to Eli, the High Priest, because Eli had stopped listening to God.
Sure, listening to God is not always easy, but it is always worth it. When you hear what God has to say to you, (or about you), your self-esteem will go through the roof! When you hear what God wants you to do, you will find a challenging and fulfilling purpose for your life. So why not give it a try?