As a writer, I often obsess trying to find the perfect word. When God wanted to communicate His thoughts and feelings for you and me, He didn't grab a thesaurus; He spoke all that He felt with one perfect word—Jesus. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). Later, in John's first epistle, He wrote, "The word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one" (1 John 2:14b).
The good news is that God still speaks. He designed you and me for relationship, and communication is a big part of a thriving relationship. But how? How does God speak, and how can we know we've heard His voice?
What am I seeing in the Scriptures? The primary way God communicates with us is through the Bible. Paul wrote to Timothy, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness," (2 Tim. 3:16).One of the most powerful ways to hear God's voice is in your daily Bible reading. As you read, look for patterns and write them down. Often you will find that God is speaking. For example, during a season where I was asking God for guidance, I kept reading verses that said things like, "I will go before you and make the crooked places straight" (Isa. 45:2a). And, "To Him who led his people through the wilderness; for His mercy endures forever" (Ps. 136:16). My heart was reassured that God was leading and leveling the path before me. I could trust His love.
What do I sense the Holy Spirit is saying? As the early believers worshipped and fasted, the Holy Spirit spoke that they were to set apart Barnabas and Saul as missionaries (Acts 13:2). It is my conviction that we hear the Spirit of God most clearly when we are worshipping. As we praise God, He brings our spirit into perfect union with His Spirit, and it becomes easier to hear His voice. When you are worshipping or fasting, pause and consider what is the Spirit speaking to me?
What are my mentors or close friends saying? The wise writer of Proverbs tells us that "victory is won through many advisers" (Prov. 11:14, NIV). Often when Steve and I have been wrestling with a big decision, we have consulted those who know us best. Close friends and mentors have agreed to pray with us, seek God's face and then speak into our decision. Over the years, that guidance has stood us well. Life is complicated, and often there are huge decisions where you want to be sure you've heard God correctly. Practice leaning into your community as you seek to hear God's voice. Discernment on a particular issue will often come to a group as each one seeks the Lord's face.
Have I had any dreams lately where God might be speaking? Just as God spoke to Joseph in a dream instructing him to flee to Egypt with Mary and baby Jesus, God still speaks in dreams today (Matt. 2:13). Steve and I have seen this not only in our own lives, but also in countless times overseas where God seems to be speaking more today through dreams than previously, especially in the Islamic world. We have met so many believers who had practiced Islam but then became Jesus followers when God spoke to them in a dream and introduced Himself as "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6b).
What is the way of faith? When God speaks, He usually calls us to take a risk and grow deeper in our faith. In my own life, I can't remember any time when God spoke to me and told me to play it safe. Perhaps others have had those experiences, but usually for me, God speaks and invites me to take a bold step of faith. Here's the thing about bold faith: It involves risk. When I'm trying to determine if I heard the voice of God correctly, I ask myself, "What is the way of faith?" If it involves faith, I can almost guarantee that God is speaking!
Part of the promise of Christmas is that as the incarnate Word, God still speaks, and we can hear His voice. During this Christmas season, take a few moments of quiet and simply listen. Practice these five questions and write down what you think God might be saying.
Becky Harling, an author, certified speaker, leadership coach and trainer with the John Maxwell Team, is an energetic and motivational international speaker inspiring audiences to overcome their greatest life challenges and reach their full God-given potential. Her most recent book is How to Listen So People Will Talk. Her husband, Steve Harling, is the president of Reach Beyond, a nonprofit organization seeking to be the voice and hands of Jesus around the world.
This article originally appeared at beckyharling.com.
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