Have you ever been going about your day and heard a thundering, booming voice say, “I am the Lord! Listen to me!” ?
If this isn’t something you’ve thought about or familiar with… its about to get a little spiritual, count this as your only warning.
Something that’s been on my mind this year is how do we know we’ve heard God? What does His voice sound like? How do we know it’s Him? Seems like I hear about it once a week. I’ve had people ask me how to discern and distinguish all of these things. How do we even know what He is saying?
I don’t think there is one simple answer, but the answer I can give is that it all depends on you. There’s usually a emphasis on what your spiritual gifts are from the Holy Spirit.
God knew us before we knew ourselves in our mother’s womb. He certainly knows more about us than even we know. He knows how to get your attention and finds a unique way to communicate to you in a way that you know it’s only Him. He uses the Holy Spirit to do this too.
It’s important to pray and spend time in the Bible to familiarize yourself with God and His Word. This makes it much easier to discern the truth from lies or even your own thoughts when you are familiar with Him. (Kinda like when a hacked account that belongs to your friend sends you a message on Facebook, you’d know if it was them or not.)
From the moment you are saved and ask Jesus into your heart, you invite Him to be with you, to dwell within you. When you are baptized, you receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Might sound weird or intimidating but He’s there. He provides wisdom, guidance, peace…He’s a huge part of your thought life.
People are all different. We prioritize differently, exaggerate differently, we process and internalize information differently.
The way I personally hear from the Lord is through repetitive thoughts or impressions with no root to my individual thought life. It’s a random, out of place, “one of these things is not like the other” type of thoughts. It starts gentle and suggestive unless I delay or procrastinate. If I wait too long to listen He sounds like my angry mother yelling at me to clean my room when I was a child. He doesn’t have a distinctive sound of voice. To me, He sounds like me. I know He is not me though when He speaks because His tone and demeanor are drastically different than my own.
Maybe it’s an INFJ thing, but for me I need time in prayer to just feel out the Holy Spirit and be open to hearing His voice as well. This first happened to me a couple years ago when God started pushing me to get a passport. I wasn’t planning a trip. I didn’t have money to go on a trip if I wanted to. It had no root to my own agenda. The thought would come to me anytime I was in prayer. Didn’t matter if I was praying at the dinner table, in service, or with a friend. He stood out and overpowered whatever prayer being said.
I also experience what can only be explained as physical electrical currents. Usually in specific places. The crown of my head, my cheeks, my left forearm, or my thigh… and it almost feels like chills but the hairs don’t raise up. The currents move in waves downwards. I’ve noticed I typically feel this when I’m reading parts of the Bible that I didn’t completely absorb. He wants me to pay closer attention and read again. Sometimes it happens when there is someone in the room who needs help and I need to be on alert.
The different options for His communication are endless. Some people feel pain for other people and empathy, sometimes He reveals repetitive phrases or numbers, He can feel like a heavy weight, and some people feel super warm (sometimes to the point of sweating). There are truely endless possibilities to how people feel His presence and hear His voice.
If none of these sound familiar to you and you are seeking hearing from God I would recommend practicing His presence. Make room for him by reading the Word, fasting, praying, or worshiping. But, be encouraged that whether you have an personal experience/encounter with Him… He’s always here.
I’d love to hear how some of you guys hear from God and distinguish His voice from your own in the comments! Have a great week!
Photo by Kyle Johnson