Does God really talk to us? Can we really hear God's voice? We often doubt if we are hearing from God until we learn to recognize the ways God speaks to us. In "How to Hear from God," Karen Wolff of Christian-Books-For-Women.com takes a humorous and practical look at how to listen for, and hear God's voice.
How to Hear from GodWouldn't it be great if God decided to use billboards to talk to us? Just think, we could drive down the road and God would simply choose one of a zillion billboards to get our attention. There we'd be with a mapped out message straight from God. Pretty cool, huh?
I've often thought that method would certainly work for me! On the other hand, he could use something more subtle. Like a gentle rap on the side of the head whenever we veer off the course. Yup, there's a thought. God smacking people whenever they don't listen. I'm afraid we'd all be walking around in a daze from all that rapping "activity."
Hearing from God is a learned skill.
Of course, you could be one of the lucky ones like Moses, who was walking up the mountain, minding his own business, when he stumbled upon the burning bush. Most of us don't have those kinds of encounters so we find ourselves looking for skills to help us hear from God.
How Can I Tell if God is Talking to Me?Here are some common ways God talks to us:
In order to actually "hear" from God, we have to know some things about God's character. We have to develop an understanding of who God is, and the way he does things. Fortunately for us, all that information is available in the Bible. The Book goes into a lot of detail about how you can expect God to react, what kinds of expectations he has for us, and most specifically, how he expects us to treat other people. It's actually a pretty good book, given its age.
Many times God will use other people to try to get through to us. It's possible for God to use anyone at any time, but I find more messages coming from people who are practicing Christians than non-practicing ones.
Sometimes the only way God can teach us something is to allow circumstances in our life to lead us to and through the very thing we need to discover. One of my favorite authors, Joyce Meyer, says, "There's no such thing as a drive-through break-through."
The Still Small Voice
Most of the time God uses a tiny voice inside us to let us know when we're not on the right path. Some people call it "the voice of peace." Whenever we're contemplating something and we don't have peace about it, it's a very good idea to stop and carefully look at the options. There's a reason you don't feel peace about it.
The Actual Voice
Sometimes we're able to "hear" something in our spirit that sounds to us like an actual audible voice. Or all of a sudden, you just know you heard something. Pay attention to those occasions because it is very likely God trying to tell you something.
When God Talks, Shut Up and ListenLet me give you an example. A couple years ago I signed up to become a hospital visitor for my church. When I first saw the notice in our church bulletin, I immediately felt that I should respond. But, I let it pass. Over the next couple of weeks, the thought occurred to me off and on so I said to myself, "If I see the notice in the bulletin this coming Sunday, I'll sign up."
Of course, it was in there. But this time when I saw it, there was no getting away from it. I finally had to say, "Okay, okay God, I'm going!"
So there I was doing hospital visits for the first time. I was nervous, but I prayed a lot before I went, and I was doing okay. But on my way to the second hospital, I prayed again that God would use me to represent Him to all the sick people, giving comfort, etc.
Right in front of the hospital was a crosswalk with a traffic light. As I stood at the corner I kept praying, starting to cross, even though the light was red. I mean, I was in a hurry trying to get to all those sick people!
Right in the middle of the street I heard, "So you want to represent Me, and you can't even make it across the street without breaking the law?"
I was so shocked by this, I said the most spiritual thing I could think of, "Oops."
God uses lots of things to talk to us. But actually hearing from God isn't so much a matter of if he's talking, but rather, whether we're listening.
Karen Wolff, a contributing writer for About.com, is host to a Christian Web site for women. As founder of Christian-Books-for-Women.com, she wants to provide Christian women with a place to find practical information, tips, and help with a variety of issues they face every day. For more information visit Karen's Bio Page.