People often ask me, "So how do you hear the voice of God? Does He speak to you audibly?" Well no, not necessarily. In fact, I have only heard Him speak to me audibly once. For the most part, He speaks as a still small voice in my heart. He speaks to me through His word, in pictures, visions, and of course, dreams. What I have discovered over the years is how creative God is. He will use just about anything, anyone, and any method to speak to those who are listening.
God's simple desire is connection with us.
It has been since the beginning of time. I love the quote by Leif Hetland; "The gospel is the story of a father who lost his kids in the garden and paid the highest price to get them back". In Genesis, it says Adam walked with God in the cool of the day. The second Adam, Jesus, modeled relationship again by saying "I only do what I see my father doing". (John 5:19)
Being "close" with God seems to be the blueprint and original purpose we were created for. He didn't want servants or slaves, He wanted friends and family.
Let me take you back to the beginning of my journey. To be honest, as a child I felt worthless to God. Like why would He want me, let alone want to talk to me? I grew up in a Christian home, but I felt like it was more about rules and guidelines than unconditional love and genuine connection. I use to think God was mean. I felt like I had to do so much to keep my salvation and He was just waiting for me to slip up so He could condemn me for it. This mindset ruled my life. I remember being so fearful every time there was an opportunity to come down the front for prayer at Church. Part of me wanted and needed to go up, but I always expected that if God had anything to say to me, it would be to reveal how much I didn't measure up.
I didn't realise it at the time but the filter in which I viewed God was severely flawed.
My relationship with my stepfather was rooted in a lot of fear, and our dysfunctional home dynamic had created a warped lens that I saw God through and was unable to break free. What I didn't know was that in the middle of that situation God desperately wanted to speak to me, even more than I wanted to hear Him, I just didn't know it yet.
As far as I can remember, I was ten years old the first time I heard God's voice for myself. One night after a big family argument broke out my heart was a wreck. Feeling so broken I ran downstairs, and I began silently yelling at God like He was in front me. I told Him that He had let me down time and time again and I let Him have it. I told Him every time I felt abandoned by Him. I fell in a heap crying, until the moment something in the room changed. The atmosphere shifted, and I felt an invisible blanket of God's Presence rest on me heavily. I could actually feel the weight of it, which I know now to be the Glory of God. Then I heard these words, whether internally or audibly I still don't know, but they were louder and more real than life. "Nate it is going to be ok". Instantly I was at peace. For many years every time, I would feel overwhelmed I would run downstairs and do the same thing until I would feel His presence and hear His voice.
So how can you hear God for yourself? Here are 4 keys that will point you in the right direction.
1. INVITE HIM INTO YOUR DAILY LIFE
Invite Him into a daily dialogue, and over time you will begin to recognise His gentle whispers. The more time you spend with a person, the more familiar their voice becomes right?! If my wife calls me on the phone, I immediately recognize her voice. I don't pick up the phone, hear her talk and say, "sorry who's this?" I know my wife, and the more we welcome God into our regular everyday life the more he will speak, and the more we will hear.
One place God regularly began speaking to me was in my workplace. I would be sitting at my desk and I would hear specific information about a co-worker. At first, I didn't know what to do with it and I didn't want to be that crazy Christian guy (you know what I'm saying). I wanted to be able to share my heart, without seeing weird or odd. So I came up with the idea to email encouragement to people and slip in what I was seeing and sensing without it seeming religious. The first email I sent was to this hulk of a guy. On the exterior, he was tough and serious, yet I could tell he was soft and sensitive underneath the persona. An hour after I sent the email he walked to my desk with tears running down his cheeks. After a while, people started expecting them and I had the opportunity to share about Jesus openly and pray for them. I saw many healings, as well as regular dream interpretation! How cool is that. God wants us to know Him and be a tune to Him. He's not limited to Sundays in Church. He wants to speak and move in our ordinary, everyday lives!
2. MAKE SPACE FOR AN ENCOUNTER
Years ago I decided that TV and other things weren't going to have the best of me anymore. I was going to purposefully make space in my world for an encounter and began to position myself to hear God speak to me. I decided that I would set time nightly to chase after Him. Now, of course, every persons life is different and we all have our own commitments and responsibilities. The point isn't trying to pin point a magic formula, that point is prioritising the presence of God. Find a time and space to give God your undivided attention. Maybe you drive to work? Maybe you're a parent and can only get quiet time at night. Maybe you're a student and can get up 30 minutes earlier in the morning. Just do what you gotta do. There will always be things vying for your attention, but if you want to hear Him, you've gotta make room in your life to hear from Him.
"If you set your sail, it is impossible for the Holy Spirit not to come"
"Call to Me, and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand)"- Jeremiah 33:3
3. OPEN THE WORD
So often we are desperate for God to speak to us but we forget, He already has! Through His word. Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.The Bible is divine revelation. Gods own words to us. So pick it up! Open it, listen to it. God will always speak to you through His word.
4. PAUSE, PRAY, LISTEN, JOURNAL
This may be a super practical key, but you will hear His voice when you simply stop and listen. Take time regular to pause and be still before Him. As you tune your ear to things of the spirit you will begin to hear things, and as you do write them down. I often get mental images or an impression as I spend time with God. I make sure to write and record them so I can mediate and chew them over.
You might be thinking like I once did, "Why would God want to speak to me?" I'll tell you why. Because you are valuable to Him. You aren't invisible to Him and He wants you to feel so known and adored by him because that is exactly who you are. I pray today that you would begin to hear His voice above every other noise in your life. That His voice of affirmation and love would silence every other frequency and wreck your heart in a good way.
God never intended for us to be people that know the kingdom, but have never been acquainted with the King.
Right now why don't you say "Lord I truly want to know you and hear your voice!". I pray you will never be the same again.