How does God speak to us? It seems like we often hear that a key to faith is hearing God’s voice and then doing what He says. This is all well and good when “the voice” of God we hear is through Scripture. In fact, we could spend a lifetime simply trying to do what He says in His Word. But this same Word also holds out another promise to us- that God is a God who continues to speak. He has something to say about our personal situations and the individual experiences we all have from day to day. So, in the rush of life, how exactly does God speak to us? Someone asked me this very question a few weeks ago. I thought for a bit about how I personally attempt to listen to God. Like many others, I try to take some time each day to be quiet before God, in a prayerful place to listen to what God might have to say. As I pondered this approach, however, it occurred to me that very rarely if ever have I heard God in that moment!
Now that seems kind of strange, doesn’t it? I believe in a God who is speaking and who wants to speak to me, yet when I actually go to listen, I must honestly admit that I rarely hear anything. Perhaps you are encouraged by this! Maybe you have grown weary of this kind of listening because it feels like wasted time where very odd and random things pop into your mind. Be at ease,-you are not alone!
But back to the question at hand- how do we hear God speak? I am not trying to create precedence here or say this is the right way, but I want to share my experience because you may find similarities. What I have found is that when I am setting aside time to hear from God, though I rarely hear from Him in that moment, I very often hear from Him in that season. In other words, when I am being consistent in this posture of listening, I will find that at other times in my day, a voice or a thought will suddenly pop up and somehow in my soul I just know it is God’s voice. An answer to a question. A new perspective. A lyric from a song I haven’t thought of in ages. A verse in Scripture I haven’t read in months. But there it is. To me, I feel like God has to catch me off guard in these moments.
The more I think about it, the more this makes sense to me. When I sit and pray, “God, I want to hear your voice,” whether I realize it or not, I have many presuppositions in that moment. I have ideas of what God should or shouldn’t say. I have ideas of what He will say and how He will say it. I put up all these filters that make actually hearing His voice in that moment difficult if not impossible. But in doing this, I believe that I am somehow aligning my heart with His. I am opening up a portion of my soul and making it more ready to receive. And at just the right moment, God speaks. When I am not even aware of Him, He is aware of me and of my need to hear His voice. And so He speaks.
So though I rarely hear God “in the moment”, I will continue to be one who listens. And when He catches me off guard and speaks just what I need to hear, I will be grateful that He spoke in His way, and His time.
We have a speaking God. May we be a listening people!