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) Dreams – Joel 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.
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.