How do you know if and when God is speaking to you?
Posted on December 31, 2011 by Leighton Flowers, One of Thousands of Christian Coaches on Noomii.
Many say that God speaks to them, but are they really hearing God?
I recently received an email from a student asking how I heard the voice of God and how I was sure it was really Him speaking, so I wanted to address that here…
Growing up going to church and hearing stories of great Christians with great prayer lives lead me to always feel guilty about my prayer life. I would hear about people who would spend hours in prayer and no matter how hard I tried this was never something I could do. This is when I thought of prayer as bowing my head and closing my eyes and talking in a one way conversation. Prayer was boring to say the least, though I would have never admitted it to anyone for fear of appearing “nonspiritual.”
Things have changed recently however. I now understand prayer as an awareness of God’s presence in my life revealing Himself through circumstances, thoughts, writings, creation, other people etc…and my interactions with Him as I experience Him in those moments of revelation. He speaks to me through my thoughts, reflections and circumstances regularly and it is alive and exciting…far from boring.
As I speak with others about this however the objection I hear (and one I have struggled with as well) is, “How do you know its not just you thinking to yourself?” OR “How do you know what you are thinking is really from God and not from another source?”
But consider what God MIGHT say if you asked HIM that very question:
Him: What do you have that I did not create?
Him: Who gave you your mind, your personality, your emotions and who has ultimate oversight over your circumstances?
Me: You, of course…
Him: Who abides in you?
Me: You do!
Him: Where does all good originate?
Me: From you of course.
Him: So, if you have a good thought…a thought that edifies…a thought that encourages…a thought that challenges you to grow…a thought that convicts and restores…a thought that pushes you to help others…a thought that teaches you more about Me and yourself…a thought that is consistent with other revelations of myself in scripture…WHERE do thoughts like these originate? From you or me?
Me: It must be from you! (this is when the light came on for me) You’re scripture teaches that “no one is good, no not one” and “all good things come from You.” If it is good it must be from you, not me.
Now, that being said, you must test the spirit, as scripture teaches you to do, because you don’t want to put words in God’s mouth that he hasn’t actually given you. You may make mistakes when it comes to hearing His voice, but in time and with practice you will be able to better discern His desires from your own. Additionally, the closer you grow to Him the more these two will become one. Delight yourself in Him and I will give you the desires of your heart. The desires of one’s heart who is living in relationship to God are going to be virtually indistinguishable from His desires for you. So, as you are conformed into His image your desires will begin to line up with His, thus your thoughts will likewise line up with His. You will “become one with Him” just as Christ prayed for you in John 17…and as Paul taught, you will grow to have the “mind of Christ.”
I have also learned that God will often confirm what He is teaching you through other believers and through scripture. God teaches us the importance of walking with others on this journey because they can often provide balance and discernment as we seek Father’s heart. On several occasions I have heard what I believe to be God’s voice in my thoughts and later have another believer tell me they have heard very similar guidance thus bringing confirmation with my spirit. The longer I listen and obey the stronger my faith grows and the easier it becomes to hear Him.
I certainly still have much to learn in this regard but I pray this helps some…