Discerning the Voice of God

Have you ever wondered if you are in alignment with God’s instruction? Have you wondered if that little voice in your head was the devil or God? Have you heard something in your spirit man, then second-guessed whether or not it was God? Or maybe you’ve wondered whether or not you were in God’s will?  

Some of us have even cried out to God in our journey with questions, like, “Where are you? Do you hear me? Do you even care?” 

 Today, I want to give you 9 principles of learning to truly hear the voice of God in your life.  

  1. Don’t be double minded // James 1:5-8 says “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”  Your faith cannot be in your job, relationship status, parents, grandparents, the pastor, or your church, and then expect to be able to sit and hear the voice of God. Your faith must stand in God alone. He knows your heart. He knows when you really desire to please him and really do want wisdom about a matter. God will not withhold good gifts from his children. He wants you to seek him and trust him. He wants to talk to you, so do not be double-minded. Do not be a fair-weather Christian. Do not simply seek God’s voice and attempt to honor him, when it’s convenient or easy. Seek to honor him and obey him, even when you are having to stand against the crowd or even when it means you are going to have to walk out an increased measure of faith. This is especially true, when God is asking obedience of you, when it seems to make no sense in the natural.  

  2. Practice obedience // There are two components of practicing obedience. 

    The first component is in laying down sin. This is going to be obeying what God has said to do in His written word, what he has already laid out long ago. The Bible gives us instruction of what is pleasing to the Lord and what dishonors him. If we don’t lay down sin, it clouds our view. It muddles what we can actually hear. In order to hear clearly, we must remove any barriers of sin in our lives.

    The second component of obedience is in obeying new instruction by the Holy Spirit. This means not only practicing what the Word has told us, but also following the prompting of the Holy Spirit through your own life, when we are asked to do something.   

    There is instruction from the written word of God (known as Logos), e.g. do not commit adultery. Likewise, there is instruction through the Spirit of God (known as a Rhema word), e.g. don’t go to Sarah’s house tonight. Both logos and rhema are the Word of God, but the former is God’s Word recorded in the Bible, while the latter is the Word of God spoken to us at a specific occasion. It gives us specific instruction through the Holy Spirt. We must practice obedience. God knows our heart, so don’t worry about getting it wrong, as long as you are trying. We must follow what both the written word of God and the spoken work of God prompt. 

  3. Practice listening // John 10:27 says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  The more you hear someone’s voice, the more you begin to recognize them. The more time you spend with them, the more you get to know them. Develop space in your life to simply listen. God speaks to those who are willing to listen. Listening is done, when you are not talking. You cannot talk and listen at the same time. In the same way, you cannot hear the voice of God while you are talking. Prayer time should consist of you praying to the Lord – honoring, worshiping, adoring – AND you being quiet and hearing what He drops in your spirit.  

  4. Practice Spiritual disciplines // Prayer. Fasting. Praise. Worship. Tithes and offerings. Church attendance. Read Mark 9:14-29. We are able to hear more clearly from the Lord, as we engage with our spiritual disciplines.  

  5. Test the voice against the Scriptures // God speaks the way He writes. If what you are hearing does not line up with God’s Word, then it is likely a lying spirit, which is a tactic of the enemy to keep you confused. For example, a woman is living with her nonbelieving boyfriend. She says, “Well God told me that I was put into his life to minister to him, to help get him saved.” Yet, we know God’s Word says for us not to be unequally yoked, as well as to not live in sexual sin. This could be an example of her hearing what she wants to hear, instead of truly seeking the Lord.  

  6. Humble yourself // Live a fully surrendered life to the Lord. Live in child-like faith. Do not operate with a religious spirit. Do not think you know everything. Do not think you have arrived on your Christian journey. Do not think you have heard it all. We are all growing. The ways of God are mysterious. God is always moving in new ways. We must humble ourselves before the Lord and lay down all pride, self-righteousness, and piety.  

  7. Pray for increase of the spiritual gifts // Ask the Lord to increase in you a discerning of spirits and wisdom. This will allow you to you to know when a lying spirit or a spirit of fear is present. This will allow you to operate in wisdom, beyond your years, education, or knowledge. This will allow you to know things you couldn’t have known otherwise, but through the gifts of the spirit. The more we use our gifts and sharpen them, the more clearly we’ll discern God’s voice. 

  8. Follow peace // God is a God of order, not chaos. Now, let me be clear. God will speak to you to do things that are uncomfortable. I did not say follow comfort. Peace is in the knowing that even though you don’t understand the instruction or how it will work out or why you’ve been asked to do a certain thing, there is an unexplainable peace in your spirit man.  

  9. Where the Spirit is, the fruits are // Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” This lets us know that when God is speaking, His fruits will flow. There will be peace. There will be kindness. There will be patience.  

If you want some practice with listening to the voice of God, try these simple steps: 

  1. Wait and be still, removing all distractions. 

  2. Listen.  

  3. Be specific about any sin that the Lord reveals. 

  4. Ask for forgiveness. 

  5. Write down what the Lord says.   

Jennifer Maggio is a mom to three, wife to Jeff, and founder of the national nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is author to four books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She was named one of the Top 10 Most Influential People in America by Dr. John Maxwell in 2017 and 2015 and has appeared in hundreds of media venues, including The New York Times, Family Talk Radio with Dr. James Dobson, Joni and Friends, and many others. 

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