So much has been written lately about hearing God, or maybe it just seems like it to me. I grew up in a denomination that was founded in part by a woman with prophetic gifts, yet the ability to hear God for yourself was never discussed. I feel like it had less do with disagreeing with it doctrinally and more about culturally discouraging lay people from doing any thinking for themselves. That’s probably harsh but honestly, that’s the spirit of institutionalism that’s grown like a cancer in organized churches today.
Regardless, there’s plenty of stuff out there that can teach you ways to hear God for yourself. I’ll include a few ideas here, but I don’t want to really pump it up as a thing, because I know how stressful it can be to try to hear God. It gets built up in our minds as this spiritual gift that you either have or don’t have. Like if you can’t hear God you’re a second class Christian. I want to avoid that at all costs.
As vital as it is that you stop having a faith journey based solely on second-hand information if you’re stressing about “hearing” God or “Prophetic” gifting, etc. then you’re missing the whole point of this book.
God is sovereign. He doesn’t pick one person to just never speak to. He doesn’t give or take away based on his opinion of you. He talks to everyone, sinner or saint. He gave dreams to Pharaoh (not a Christian). He wrote on the wall for Nebuchadnezzar (not a Christian).
Jesus, in person, dined with the IRS agents of his day, spoke to prostitutes, spoke to single non-Jewish women (which was taboo). Etc. Okay? God’s not going to single you out to be the one person He doesn’t want to communicate with.
So, ” why don’t I hear him?”
God likes to shake things up. He didn’t make eight billion people and then decide he’s only got one way to speak. He’s infinitely creative and likes to reach out to you in a way that you hear best. In fact, how God likes to communicate with you can speak to how He sees you which can be a big clue to your identity.
I’ll give you a list of things to try but go wild–use them all and anything else you can think of. Let’s start with the least controversial, and move out to the fringe.
- He can speak through scripture. He loves to make verses come alive, but he’ll often have other ways to get you a message.
- He can speak through other people. I’ve almost never had a message from other people or given a message to other people, but I know it happens.
- Sometimes you’ll see something and God will unpack it for you. Like a stop sign or a boulder. I know a man who looks at pictures and then God asks what that picture means to him. He writes down his answer on the back of the picture and later that day God will tell him someone who needs that message.
- It could a vision. I’ve had full-on visions, but not very many. A picture is worth a thousand words and sometimes God likes to fill in the blanks with a picture rather than chat at you all day.
So I don’t get visions that establish my new doctrine to teach others, but maybe someone else does. I tend to get visions that fill in my own understanding. For example, I’ve seen Eve. I’ve seen the most beautiful woman ever, naked, and had zero attraction to her. (That’s a topic for a blog post. Back to this topic.)
- Sometimes God speaks through miracles. I’ve had a sickness vanish when I asked God if He was listening. I tried it again when I had the flu and it didn’t work.
Sometimes place matters: He once told Gideon to “go down into the enemy camp,” to hear a word. Then God gave one of their enemies a dream with the answer.
- Which reminds me, He uses dreams. If you do find that God consistently likes to connect someplace make a practice of going there. I’ve got one friend who hears God best in the bathtub. He’s a grown man, ex-military, not prone to taking full-on baths, but…anyway he takes a lot of baths these days.
For me, it’s driving, or hiking. Or right before I fall asleep, or when I’ve just woken up.
I honed my prophetic talents by attending a “school of prophecy.” There I learned to think about someone and then craft a prayer uniquely for them. It was amazing. I’d start to write someone a blessing and I’d hear God prompt me with information I wouldn’t have known otherwise.
This is a good time to remember that we must align our hearts with God when engaging in a prophecy. God is never condemning and often the first thing you hear about someone is so that you’ll empathize with them, not so you’ll judge them.
As Graham Cooke says, “don’t prophecy the problem. God doesn’t call out our sin, what he sees in us has no sin in it.”
Perhaps the most telling Bible story about hearing God is is when Elijah heard God in a “still, small voice.” Everyone I’ve spoken to about the topic agrees that God is seldom boisterous. The level of electronic interference, distraction, and busyness we allow in our lives these days is insane.
I’ve read recently that cell phones are increasing our stress exponentially. I read it on my cell phone.
So get out into nature, turn your phone off, and just listen.
Journaling. It sounds counter-intuitive, but God likes to look over my shoulder when I’m writing the jumbled thoughts from my brain and then comment in response. Not sure why, but if I have to do handstands to get access to the comfort, encouragement, and wisdom of God I’ll do it.
Oh! One last thing.
This is an inadequate list. I could write all day. You’re free to look up the topic and get other books about it, but honestly, it’s not about what you know.
Don’t worry about your imagination either. God’s reality is so much bigger than your imagination. God will say things that are too good to be true, don’t weed that out. Just practice listening and expecting that God is more likely to communicate with you than your spouse is. Okay? That’s how much He wants to connect!
One last thing. 80% of what God speaks to me isn’t about other people, or his will for the future, or anything from my past. It’s about who I am. He calls me his Cleric. He calls me a righteous man. He calls me strong and wise. So stop stressing and start listening!
P.S. Perhaps the best book I’ve found on the topic of hearing God is, “Hearing God in Conversation,” by Sam Williamson. (http://beliefsoftheheart.com/)
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Expected update 4/19/2018