And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
C. Austin Miles
Principle #1. In order to hear God, you must first expect for God to speak to you.
- God may already be speaking to you. But if you don’t expect Him to speak, it is likely you won’t hear Him. There are some who read the Bible like they were reading a history book, nothing more. And, then they say that it is boring.
- One of the main ways God speaks to us today is through the Bible.
Hebrews 4:12. For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
2 Corinthians 3:6. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
John 5:39–40. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
- You must read the Bible, expecting the Holy Spirit to take the words written there and apply them to your heart.
Principle #2. In order to hear the voice of God well, we have to be available and willing to receive what He has to say to us.
- When we have something important to tell someone, we usually wait until the moment we think they will be ready to listen and receive what we have to tell them. God doesn’t reveal His secrets to a hardened heart.
Ephesians 4:18. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
1 Samuel 3:1–11. The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. Again the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” And the LORD said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle.”
- Samuel had never heard God speak before, so he didn’t know how to recognize His voice. But when he said, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening,” he was able to perceive the message God wanted to give him.
Principle #3. If we want to hear the voice of God in our life, we must first obey the revelation of God we have already received.
- Jesus said: He who is faithful in the little, I will put over much.
1 Corinthians 2:14. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Matthew 25:21. ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
Luke 16:10–12. Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
- If you are not hearing God in your life, is it perhaps because you haven’t followed through with something He already told you in the past?
- 1 Samuel 3:1 says, “In those days, the Word of God was rare.” Why? Was it because God didn’t have anything to say? No. He had some very important things to say that He couldn’t say until someone like Samuel came on the scene. The reason the Word of God was scarce was due to the disobedience of the people.
Principle #4. In order to hear the voice of God well, we need to learn to recognize the voice of God and distinguish it from other voices.
- The fact is there are many voices out there competing for our attention. And, if we’re not careful, we might confuse God’s voice with another voice that is not His.
1 John 4:1–3. Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
- The truth is, even though we should expect God to speak to us, we should not go looking for mystical experiences. There are some people who get confused and think that, since they have had a spiritual experience, it is from God.
1 Kings 19:11–13. The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
- We may well have been tempted to think that the wind, the earthquake, or the fire were God’s voice. But Elijah had enough experience with God to recognize and discern His true voice.
Hebrews 5:11–14 (ESV). About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
- Some people are unable to discern between good and evil, between God’s voice and other voices. Even though they may have been Christians for years, they still haven’t developed the ability to hear and understand the voice of God. But v. 14 tells us the way we come to be able to do it. By practice. We need to spend time in the Word, in prayer, listening to God, testing out whether what we thought was the voice of God ended up being so or not, learning from our experiences with God.
Principle #5. The word of God is personal for us, and therefore, we shouldn’t let others tell us God’s word for us without testing it out first.
1 Kings 13:1–26 (NLT). At the Lord’s command, a man of God from Judah went to Bethel, arriving there just as Jeroboam was approaching the altar to burn incense. Then at the Lord’s command, he shouted, “O altar, altar! This is what the Lord says: A child named Josiah will be born into the dynasty of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests from the pagan shrines who come here to burn incense, and human bones will be burned on you.” That same day the man of God gave a sign to prove his message. He said, “The Lord has promised to give this sign: This altar will split apart, and its ashes will be poured out on the ground.” When King Jeroboam heard the man of God speaking against the altar at Bethel, he pointed at him and shouted, “Seize that man!” But instantly the king’s hand became paralyzed in that position, and he couldn’t pull it back. At the same time a wide crack appeared in the altar, and the ashes poured out, just as the man of God had predicted in his message from the Lord. The king cried out to the man of God, “Please ask the Lord your God to restore my hand again!” So the man of God prayed to the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored and he could move it again.
Then the king said to the man of God, “Come to the palace with me and have something to eat, and I will give you a gift.” But the man of God said to the king, “Even if you gave me half of everything you own, I would not go with you. I would not eat or drink anything in this place. For the Lord gave me this command: ‘You must not eat or drink anything while you are there, and do not return to Judah by the same way you came.’” So he left Bethel and went home another way.
As it happened, there was an old prophet living in Bethel, and his sons came home and told him what the man of God had done in Bethel that day. They also told their father what the man had said to the king. The old prophet asked them, “Which way did he go?” So they showed their father which road the man of God had taken. “Quick, saddle the donkey,” the old man said. So they saddled the donkey for him, and he mounted it. Then he rode after the man of God and found him sitting under a great tree. The old prophet asked him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” ”Yes, I am,” he replied. Then he said to the man of God, “Come home with me and eat some food.” “No, I cannot,” he replied. “I am not allowed to eat or drink anything here in this place. For the Lord gave me this command: ‘You must not eat or drink anything while you are there, and do not return to Judah by the same way you came.’” But the old prophet answered, “I am a prophet, too, just as you are. And an angel gave me this command from the Lord: ‘Bring him home with you so he can have something to eat and drink.’” But the old man was lying to him. So they went back together, and the man of God ate and drank at the prophet’s home.
Then while they were sitting at the table, a command from the Lord came to the old prophet. He cried out to the man of God from Judah, “This is what the Lord says: You have defied the word of the Lord and have disobeyed the command the Lord your God gave you. You came back to this place and ate and drank where he told you not to eat or drink. Because of this, your body will not be buried in the grave of your ancestors.”
After the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the old prophet saddled his own donkey for him, and the man of God started off again. But as he was traveling along, a lion came out and killed him. His body lay there on the road, with the donkey and the lion standing beside it. People who passed by saw the body lying in the road and the lion standing beside it, and they went and reported it in Bethel, where the old prophet lived. When the prophet heard the report, he said, “It is the man of God who disobeyed the Lord’s command. The Lord has fulfilled his word by causing the lion to attack and kill him.”
- Sometimes we need the advice of others.
Proverbs 24:6 (KJV). For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.
- We should pay attention when others teach us or preach the Word of God. And, the Bible says we should not despise prophecy. But we should never substitute the word or counsel of someone else for God’s personal and direct word in our own life. When we do this, we are missing the whole purpose of God’s communication in our life. He wants to have intimate communion with us. He doesn’t just want to communicate with us by way of third parties. And, if you always have to go to others so they can tell you God’s will, you are going to be more vulnerable to the deception of the enemy.
Principle #6. You hear God’s voice one day at a time.
- There are those who want to know God’s will for the future. And, they come to God as if He were some sort of guru or fortune teller, thinking He is going to reveal His will for all their life.
Proverbs 27:1. Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.
- That is, it is not generally God’s will for us to know the future. And, God is not so interested in revealing the future to us as He is in having a relationship of love with us. He wants to be our friend. Now, it is true that, in every step of the way, He is there to be our guide. And, He will tell us, at the time we need to know, whether we should go “to the right or to the left.” But much more important than knowing the will of God for our life is knowing God Himself. And, that’s the main reason He speaks to us.
Revelation 3:20 (NLT). “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.