How to Hear God – A Brief Tutorial

Hearing God happens in many ways. I’ve learned that God will try to reach us in any way that we are available, which makes the possibilities virtually unending, but I’ll give a few practical examples that I have discovered which will help you in your personal life, in prayer ministry or for any situation. God wants to talk to us and show us His will for every situation.

When we start, we wonder what voice we’re hearing. There are three possibilities: God’s voice, Satan’s voice and the voice of our own soul or mind. When I feel chatter in my head, I tell my soul to be quiet and bind any voice but the One True God. I’ve gained faith in what I’m hearing by asking for confirmation. You’ll see some ways on that below. That built my confidence.

Here are a few ways we might hear God. There are unlimited ways God is speaking, but these are a few practical tools I rely on:

1) Seeing pictures in my mind – Much like Jeremiah, when he saw a picture of an almond tree, we can see a picture in our thoughts, either behind our eyes, in our mind, or even in front of us. Some people see pictures or scenes physically. I rarely do, if ever. Once you see a picture or a word, don’t assume that is all God has to say. Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” Ask another question until you understand. If you don’t hear anything, change your question, or ask “What do you want me to know?”

2) “Be still and know that I am God” – Clear your mind. Relax. Ask God a question. Here’s one of my favorite practice questions, because there is no anxiety attached to it. It’s harder to learn to hear when we are anxious about the answer. Say this aloud and then silently wait for thoughts or pictures to come. It may help to close your eyes.

“God, if you could meet me somewhere, where would it be?” You may see a picture or hear a word.

Then ask, “Why there Lord?” Allow the story to unfold in your head in thoughts or words. It could be one sentence or you could see a scene. Sometimes people have a memory of an event that was significant.

3) “Train your senses to discern.” Your physical senses can alert you to what is happening in the spirit realm. You may feel a breeze, smell something good or something foul, feel cold all of a sudden or feel a pain in your body that indicates someone else has pain you should pray for.

4) DreamsJoel 2:28-29 says that in the last days the Spirit will be poured out all flesh. You can expect to get dreams from God; ask if you’d like them. I write them all down. I don’t understand all of them at first, but I’ve found through testing and years of tracking, that they have power to confirm God’s direction. If you are faithful to regard what you receive and evaluate them, I think God says, “Aha, they are listening” and gives more, as in the parable of the talents. There are common symbolisms, but sometimes God speaks a symbol language we personally understand. Always pray for God’s interpretation before relying on others.

5) Music, other people, repetition of words or phrases-  When you hear something repeated a few times or see it a few times, it’s good to inquire about it in prayer.

6) Discernment – a general feeling of “ick”, joy or warmth. You may feel angry when someone comes in the room, or depressed when you sit down by someone. That is how we sense what other people have. It doesn’t mean we have an anger problem, although you could have anger toward that person and you need to forgive them for something. That’s another story. However, if you don’t know the person, you probably don’t have an issue, you could be picking up on what is in the atmosphere around you.

7) Audible sounds – you may hear sounds in your head, like they are behind you or just sense the idea of a sound, if that makes any sense. You can hear in your mind, but it sort of sounds like it’s in your ears. No one else hears it, usually.

8) Emotions – You can ask God questions and he can answer by moving your emotions. For example, “God, how do you feel about this?” or “Show me how that person feels.” You could feel sadness, joy or a weight of depression. These are very useful in prayer ministry. We “bear each other’s burdens” in this way and then can sense the heart of God for them.

9) Scripture – This seems the most obvious, but there are different ways to have God speak through scripture. Daily study is always good, but sometimes I’ll ask God what I need to know and I’ll hear a reference in my head to turn to. You may also hear a certain reference or topic repeated in conversations or sermons that you just read. God is going to highlight what you need to know as you read or watch for his confirmation.

10) Still small voice- We’ve all heard this one, but who knows what is sounds like? It sounds like your own voice. It is like and echo in your head when you ask a question. It could be a thought, a comment, or a warning. Sometimes is is a brief idea of something that could happen. I’ve learned to trust most of the seemingly wacko thoughts that fly though my mind as God speaking what could be, and I ask God whether I should believe for that thing to happen. Sometimes they are not good, and I pray for those situations and ask for God’s intervention. I assume I hear God’s voice, because Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice. A stranger’s voice they will not follow.”

11) Nature –  God communicates to some through the nature as well. The heaven’s and the earth declare the glory of God. They tell of what he is like. He speaks to us through our connection to it, through inter-relationships and discovery of wonder. The greatest gift is to know the nature of God. Yesterday, we took a trip to the zoo. We heard a fierce sound and people were running to it. It was the lion roaring continuously. People flocked to it in awe. Jesus is called the “Lion of Judah”. I observed the lion and let God show me why. Ask God a question when you are in the garden, in the park and notice the small things.

Learning more:

1) Read or watch videos detailed testimonies. Watch them on youtube if you have access. You will see how other people operate in listening discerning and acting.

2) Test out what you are hearing. When praying for someone, ask God what is going on. You may get an impression in one of the ways above. Ask the person if it checks out or means anything to them. I often tell people, “I’m practicing hearing God and discerning his voice, so forgive me if I’m wrong, but ….”

3) Act on what you hear in faith. This could be in any moment of the day. An intuitional practice of this would be to try something called a treasure hunt. These are GREAT practice. Ask God to help you find someone he wants to reach. This is fun with a partner. Ask where you should go, who you should look for, what their needs or situation might be, etc. Write these words or pictures down on a piece of paper. Also ask what God might want to say to them. Then, follow the Leader.  If you don’t have time to ask for a location, you can do this when you go anywhere you need to go.

There are people everywhere that are waiting for an encounter with God.  We are nervous about speaking but people are hungry for direction. How many times have you cried out for an answer and wanted to hear clearly. Did you ever guess that you could be that clear answer for someone else just by using these skills? Trust me, you will be blessed, overjoyed and overwhelmed when you begin to see the response you get! People are really moved and shocked when someone approaches them and says God was seeking them out today and you have a list of clues that fit their description or say just the right thing they’ve been waiting to hear. Just noticing them and stopping to talk can be all they need.  I’ve heard several times, “I was just praying yesterday (or this morning) for God to answer this question and here you are!”  Perhaps they said that morning,  “God, do you notice me at all?”

Their heavenly Father is looking for workers to send out to find them, like lost sheep. He wants them home and cared for. He wants to speak to you. We are the body and made to work together; one hears for another when we struggle to hear for ourselves.

Passing on Spiritual Gifts: Laying on of Hands and Mentoring

There is nothing like being in the company of a lot of people who are abandoned to God’s purposes, or who at least are trying to be. We need the whole body of Christ! Even in our local churches, we don’t always see the complete body and all the gifts of the Spirit are not shared. God promises that those who are hungry will be filled and instructs us to seek in order to find.

I was reminded of Paul and Timothy. Paul imparted gifts and then mentored his followers in the use of those gifts. Those new in their walk had leaders passing on the practices of the faith, not just through laying on of hands, but also in instruction. Every ask questions like, “How exactly do you pray for the sick to get them healed?” or “What does the voice of God sound like if we are, indeed, all sheep and are supposed to be hearing his voice.” I had all those questions and more!

Paul wanted the apostolic teaching and imparting of gifts to continue generationally, just as Jesus did. That is why we have all of these Epistles. They don’t make much sense if you haven’t received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit yet. We don’t all have it from the moment of conversion, as some churches teach. It doesn’t come at confirmation, although it could. It doesn’t come at Baptism, although it could, and it doesn’t come from being the best at Bible studies. I spent most of my life reading the Epistles as history, but when I was imparted by the laying on of hands with a Baptism of Fire, those letters were my life! It was scary. It was wild. I was freaked out! It was like the advice included me.  Jesus was actually teaching ME how to heal the sick, like I was sitting with them. I felt fellowship with the early disciples and understood that we shared a common mission with the same directions. It was a big calling and God had imparted the power to do it, but I was still freaked out.

Ephesians 4:13 “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

As parents, we teach our children how to use tools, like a spoon, a pencil and a computer, but Paul taught his spiritual son, Timothy, how to use the greatest tool of all, Holy Spirit. He sent him to difficult places knowing that he had trained him to be mature. Our goal as parents and as members of the Body of Christ, is to help people reach “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”.  Can you picture what that looks like? I know how Jesus walked; He did what He SAW the Father doing, so he saw into God’s heart, then He did miracles that reflected God’s will. He was the visible image of the invisible God and he said we are to grow up into that fullness!

I homeschool my kids and one year when planning time came, I was frustrated about the regular stuff that the world said we should fill our kids with. I wanted to do my best as a parent, so I asked God what I was to focus on over all. He said clearly, “Teach them to connect with My Spirit.” It was the most important parenting advice I’d ever received. Kids are born with spiritual availability until we talk them out of it out of ignorance. The church can actually kill childlike faith by bringing kids into the “real world” of logic and reason. They are naturally supernatural and have the greatest thing, child-like faith. They don’t doubt that they hear God. They just do. They see angels and point at things in the sky as babies. Who knew? I didn’t, until recently. I also lay hands on my children as they are ready to receive and when they are sick. Holy Spirit Band-Aids are free, since Jesus paid for them at the cross.

There is power given through the laying on of hands. Paul received an impartation from God himself and shared it with others. He said he longed to meet with people in person so he could share the gifts he received via laying on of hands. He was the picture of “freely you have received, freely give”. This didn’t just mean share our blessings. The church is called to some really mountain moving action. Here’s the text from Matthew from the mouth of Jesus himself.

Matthew 10:7-8 “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”

This is a command of Jesus and it is most certainly included when Jesus also told his disciples to go and make more disciples, teaching them to observe ALL that He commanded them. He also promised to be with them and the future disciples always, unto the end of the age. (Matthew 28:16-20) Sometimes we identify with the pre-Pentecost identity of the disciples, but we should be identifying with the POST-Pentecost life they led. This is the inheritance we have as the body of Christ himself.

I have learned so much from the gifted disciples God has brought me to this year. A Todd White video jumped out at me one day and showed me that God is still doing just what I suspected He should be doing, miracles! My son, moved by the Holy Spirit, said, “Mom, we have to see that guy!” Holy Spirit’s amazing timing placed a conference in my region 3 weeks later where I got to spend 3 days learning what it meant to be a daughter of God in a Kingdom that had power to manifest itself. God would use me because I was in His family. It took courage. It was humbling but I started to step out in faith, ready to fail and ready to see a miracle. Why? Because someone taught me that I could.

This is what Jesus commanded us. Go and teach them to do what I commanded you. Jesus is saying that the disciples received the power to do as Jesus did for them and they were to share it. In the church today, we sometimes feel boastful if we speak of our gifts, but others need to know what we have so we can impart them to the hungry. The laying on of hands isn’t just for ordaining leaders, it is also in the context of passing on spiritual gifts. Then, those who pass them on, show us how to use them.

There are some really good resources to teach you how to use the gifts of the Spirit. I started reading some things by Bethel Church in Redding. When you search in Google on Bill Johnson, you find all kinds of negative, slanderous warnings by “discerning” Christians. Some fear that the gifts manifesting today are counterfeit gifts. I had to learn more and I needed a mentor, so I looked at both sides and prayed. One day, I had two screens up. One was from a well known site that is decidedly non-charismatic in nature. It talked about the known heretics of the faith today. The other was about Bill Johnson and his five generations in family ministry, now six. I saw the fruit of the work and the amazing transformation of the people who had a capacity to love the unlovely and to actually bring help to them through the Holy Spirit’s power. That’s what Jesus did, wasn’t it? That is what that command was all about. Go and do likewise to the end of the age – until I come back. God grabbed my attention with this question. He asked me, “What fruit to you see on each of these two screens?” On one, I saw fear, condemnation and lack of power. On the other, flourishing ministry by a humble man who soaked and meditated on the Word daily and who was willing to look nutty for God if it drew Him closer to the heart of the Father.

Bethel Church in Redding has a site called http://www.ibethel.tv. It’s awesome. I finally found a place where people shared how to hear God’s voice with specifics. I learned that God speaks words of knowledge, sometimes by giving us a sympathy pain in our body! It’s not written in the Bible, but sure enough, I’ve gotten a pain in my body when I’ve passed someone in a store. Because I’d been taught that that could be God speaking to me, I have stopped to ask people if they have that same pain (assuming I don’t regularly have pain in that area of my body, of course.) Right there, God has healed them of all pain as I’ve prayed. The more amazing witness is that I asked them something I could never otherwise know without revelation from God.

If you’d like to read more about what a life that looks more like the Acts church. There is much to read and watch.

Useful links:

Global Awakening has books, schools, and conferences by incredible teachers. http://globalawakeningstore.com/Books/ There are also full ministry manuals that will teach you how to use the gifts we already have via the Holy Spirit.

Here are a couple of my favorites:
1) “Essential Guide to Healing” by Randy Clark and Bill Johnson. This catapulted my understanding of HOW to heal the sick, not just ask God to help.

2) “There is More” by Randy Clark. This is all about passing down impartation of gifts and power of that practice. It also talks about the fallacies of cessationist teaching, meaning the belief that the gifts ceased or happen at God’s sovereign will. Many of us grow up with misinformation. http://globalawakeningstore.com/There-Is-More.html

Come to me and I’ll make you new.

God keeps drawing me to Colossians 3. Verse 10 says that when we are in Christ we “have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”

Putting something on means you don’t look like the old thing anymore, you change your appearance. Praise God. God also gives us renewed knowledge that is like His knowledge. This is why Paul said, “But we have the mind of Christ.” Don’t underestimate what you know. God has the answers and he lives in you. If Jesus lives in you, ask Jesus today out loud today and be simple. Listen to the answer you hear. If Jesus doesn’t live in you yet, if you’ve “heard” about Jesus, but really don’t have an intimate relationship yet with your creator, your Dad in heaven, there is so much more. God’s blessings are for his children. Sometimes we judge God because he isn’t blessing us when we are not even in the family. He has shown that he’s willing to give everything to find you, to give you new understanding, miraculous protection, divine favor, gifts that continue his work of healing and knowing what is on his mind. Surrender to him and you gain more than what the world can give you. You gain the creator of the universe at your access any time. He shifts what is unseen and calls things into being that are not. He is over all, in all and works wonders through his kids. Come and lay your life down. It’s not a game, it’s not church on Sunday, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done. Today is a new day. Open yourself to Jesus and he will fill you. He doesn’t force his way in, he is wants your love freely but works through any crack you will give him. The more you give him, the more he works in you. Open yourselves up to what he can do.

If you want this freedom, this blessing and favor, this amazing way of living, pray with me. Say, “Lord I want all that you have. I submit my every thought to you, my heart, my life. Take my mind and transform it. Give me your thoughts. Fill me with your Spirit as I eagerly desire the greater gifts. Cleanse me through and through. I renounce all that I was to be all that you want me to be. Now that I’m in your kingdom, I thank you for favor, that I’m one of your favorites, your kids. Your face gives me joy, it makes my heart sing. Show me how to worship. Show me how to pray. Just let me soul sing to you and let me please you in every way. Then, I’ll overflow onto others wherever I go. No power of darkness will stop me. No religious spirit will make me think less of you. I am free. Fill me with knowledge you have for me. Recreate how I think and let me walk in your shoes. I receive the gift of faith to understand all that you are.”