5 Ways to Better Hear God Speak to You
We wonder why we cannot hear God speak and ask, “How do I hear God’s voice.” Sometimes, the problem may be in the question.
Humanity is engrained with the need to calculate risk and we hone that skill over a lifetime of experiences. Think of a three-year-old who thinks they can do a backflip from the couch to the coffee table. Compare that to an elderly person who looks for a handrail to climb a small set of stairs. An example is my two-year-old, Charlie. He follows his older brother everywhere and thought he could easily make the “big boy slide” at the playground. I mean, if JP can do it, surely Charlie can do it better, right? My wife and I only caught a glimpse of the toddler shaped rocket flying off the slide.
Charlie can now be seen on slides of all sizes, fearless to approach any of these death-defying feats; with both hands and feet spread apart like a spider monkey to slow his descent. Obviously, he learned from his experience that he can slow himself with his feet and hands to tackle any slide without risking momentary flight. So if we are so capable of learning, why would we need to hear God speak to us?
Relying on Ourselves
One of the hardest things for all of us, as humans, is to push away that natural instinct to rely on our experiences and follow God through faith; especially when we cannot see what is in store. We question his existence, his voice, our abilities, what others will think; any Earthly thing possible to talk ourselves out of the mission God has in store for us. How can we know for sure if this is God’s voice speaking to us to accomplish his will or our own internal thoughts? Kind of a loaded question, right? Every situation is different, and God knows you, your limitations, and your abilities better than you or I ever could. But I can say, from a lifetime of both following and questioning that voice, there are ways to tell that God is speaking to you. Once you know, you will be more receptive to hear God speak.
Through Praise, Worship, and Study
Do you feel led while in the presence of God or his Word? The most pronounced I have heard God’s voice is during prayer, worship, sermons, and studying God’s Word (the Holy Bible). God calls ministers and music leaders for a reason! They create an environment that opens up the clarity of God’s presence, and in that time, I am most receptive to his voice and most led to his will.
God also uses the Bible and our individual prayer time to speak to us and lay things on our heart. I may be the only one, perhaps, but have you ever read a bible verse that just spoke to your current struggle? That is why I study every day. If my ears are closed to God’s voice, then I will use my eyes to read his words. Either way, I give God the opportunity to speak to me and lead me.
Hearing A Still Small Voice
If you are feeling led or hearing a small and still voice speak, is it telling you things that align with God’s word and his mission for mankind? This is an important one for anyone who believes they hear a faint voice, almost inaudible, like God is speaking directly into your temporal lobe without ever touching your ear canal. First of all, pray on it. That is the safest answer for every situation; pray.
Example from my life
Let me use an example of how God has spoken to me and see if we can figure this one out together. God whispers to Jon, “you will write a book,” in the middle of a powerful sermon at a previous church years ago. The words were low, but clear as a bell, my hair stood straight up, and I felt a euphoric tingling throughout my body and just stood in that moment even after the voice had left. Was that God? Is there a way that could align with his word? Well, depends.
I doubt I could write one of those books with Fabio on the cover and put a checkmark next to God’s will complete. But then again, I could write a book on being a successful photographer of faith which could be read by other photographers who are discouraged and considering art that is against their values and morals. Keeping Christians encouraged does sound like God’s will, but there is only one way to know for sure, to the Bible!
1 Thessalonians 5:11 "therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."
So, for me, writing a book to encourage other Christian photographers is in line with God’s will. At least that is what Paul told the church of Thessalonica. This is not a guarantee that God’s plan involves a photography book, but it does show that, along with my experience of feeling God’s presence, this may have been God calling on me. Believe me, if this is God’s plan for my life, this one instance will only make me more receptive to his additional guidance. And one day I will write the book he wants me to write. His plan will be perfect, and he will never contradict himself.
The “You Just Know” Ways of God
You can feel it in your soul. God is limitless and his ways are unfathomable. He can speak to you through other people, writing, music, silence, inner thoughts, an audible voice, dreams, signs, you name it. It is about your receptiveness to him that will ultimately let you know if he is speaking to you. But is it something that you have carried and remembered for years, and it just never seems to go away; God is very patient.
Recently, my wife reminded me out of nowhere as I was discussing ideas for our company, “you know, that would make a great book.” I got chills up my spine. That small still voice I heard was almost 8 years ago and God was still speaking to me, reminding me that he has a duty for me to perform. But for you, if every time you walk into a bookstore (in this case) and you feel a tug in your soul… Friend, that is the Holy Spirit, and he is telling you to remember that God has a plan for you.
The best way to better understand what God is telling you is to build a relationship. God is my Heavenly Father, and when I pray to him, I speak to him just like he deserves. I tell him about my day, my thoughts, my love for him, my appreciation, etc. I have no secrets from God, so I can talk about anything with him. But as I get closer and my heart opens to him more, I can feel his presence more.
Sometimes he uses his presence to tell my I am on the right track. But it is just like my wife in a way. After almost 12 years of marriage, it’s like I just know she is right behind me trying to pop up and scare me. I just know how her body feels when she enters a room, and that has taken a long time to learn. But now, I can tell her footsteps, her smells, when she is smiling. I don’t have to see it, because I know somehow.
I would love to hear about your experiences of God speaking to you! And let me know if I can share your story with others!
Just remember that when God calls you, it is his victory. Give him the glory and he will use your talents again and again to save the lost, heal the sick, and feed the hungry. He is an amazing God, and although we do not always understand his plan, we know he is perfect, sinless, and unconditionally loving. I do not question his intentions because I trust his perfection and love. I hear his call and I just move, I call it walking “faith forward.”
This article is also available as a podcast! For a deeper study to build your relationship with God, try our recently published devotional. Immersion: An Inspirational Christian Photography Collection takes you deeper in study by pairing fine art photography with inspired devotionals!