I remember sometime last year we had a 3 week seminar on worship and hearing the voice of God. It was interesting to note that there was more turnout at the seminar on hearing God’s voice. Why is that? Well, it seems to me that there is this innate desire to reconnect to God. Isaiah 43 says that God has called us by our name so we know that God has a voice and who wouldn’t want to hear the voice of their Creator?
The facilitator started out by stating that “hearing God’s voice is His heart.” I thought that there was a grammatical error at first in this statement until it hit me like a ton of bricks. Indeed, if you hear God’s voice, this means that you are connected to His heart. Little me, connected to God’s heart -isn’t that amazing!? No wonder God says in Ezekiel 36:26 “I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.” This new heart is the heart of God and we connect to the heart of God when we too are given His heart and when His Spirit dwells within us. It is an automatic spiritual magnetism of like to like. It does not follow the science of opposites attract where like objects repel each other. When you hear God’s voice, you are becoming one with him and mirroring His heart. In essence, you have the same heart.
She continued that in John 10:27, Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice. and stressed that hearing God’s voice is a must in today’s world and in order to receive supernaturally. She stated that Jesus operated in this necessity to hear God. Just like a disciple, Jesus did not say anything he did not hear from the Father as seen in John 12:49 “For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has instructed me in what to say and how to speak.”
NATURAL AND SPIRIT WORLD
Since God is spirit, the facilitator stated that we needed to distinguish between the natural and spirit world but pointed out that although these two realms are distinct, they co-exist here on earth. In order to operate in the natural world, we use our 5 senses and to operate in the spiritual world, we too must use our 5 spiritual senses. She stressed that knowing how to live in the spirit world involves hearing God’s voice and it was crucial to activate the 5 spiritual senses of spiritual hearing, sight, speech, touch and taste. It is no wonder that Psalms 34:9 exclaims “Taste and see that the Lord is good!”We can only do this with our spiritual taste buds.
The facilitator continued by pointing out that hearing God’s voice involves walking with Jesus since John 10:27 says that my sheep follow me. Thus, to follow is to actively walk with Jesus in the spirit and it necessitates hearing God’s voice in obedience. This is where things get tricky. I sometimes wonder what is worse – not hearing God’s voice at all or hearing God’s voice but not obeying it. As a disciple, we are not only called to hear God’s voice, but also to carry out what we hear as God speaks to us in several ways.
10 WAYS GOD SPEAKS
- Via circumstances: This is one which is most obvious and people often attribute it to the devil where there is an element of discomfort involved. Such discomfort can be seen in the fate of Jonah in Jonah 1:4 where “Yahweh stirred up a storm wind on the sea.”
- Via wise counsel: If in doubt on whom to ask for advice, I often play safe and rely on Scripture especially since my bible tells me that God is Wisdom. In the Catholic bible, there are the Books of Wisdom and of Sirach which I have found to truly complement the Books of Proverbs and of Ecclesiastes which are only found in the non-Catholic bibles.
- Via Peace: The Facilitator explained that when God speaks, there is a sense of peace which settles upon your heart which is distinct from that of the world which is normally associated with a peace brought about from the absence of conflict. However, this peace which God brings is that seen in Paul’s prayer in Colossians 3:15 when he says “May the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts.” She explained that this peace often comes when you are to take a crucial decision and God confirms that decision made.
- Via People/Prophets: This medium of God speaking is perhaps the most manipulated by men. How many people claimed that God spoke through them during the buildup to the Nigerian elections like he did to Nathan in 2Samuel 12 when he was sent to King David to condemn him over his sin concerning Bathsheba. I often find myself being led to rely on the other ways God speaks because of the tendency to abuse this way and to test every spirit as advised 1John 4:1-4.
- Via Dreams and Visions: This is a familiar mode seen in the Old and New Testament as mentioned in Joel 2:28 and as witnessed by Paul in Acts 1:9. The facilitator pointed out an aspect of those who have this gift to hear from God nowadays which I also found strange. She asked why most of the people who claim to hear from God via this medium, mostly have omens. They hardly see good things in their dreams or visions but mostly things to be avoided or people to warn. Perhaps it is due to us living in perilous times but even then, God does reveal good things to us via dreams and visions, doesn’t he?
- Via Thoughts and Impressions: A while back, I was made to understand that I should stop saying “something told me” or “my mind told me” or “I felt like.” I should give honor to God’s voice which is speaking to me. It was strange at first saying “God told me this” or “God told me that” and I would get strange looks when I would say it at times but the truth is indeed that God speaks through our thoughts and impressions and the more we seek Him and tune into His wavelength, the more he speaks through our thoughts and forms our impressions.
- Via Nature: This is an aspect that is easy to understand especially if you have experienced the breath-taking nature of the mountains or the serenity of the waters. God’s greatness can be unmistakably felt in nature if we are to soak it all in as done by the Psalmists and the nature loving Saint Francis. When we truly reflect upon the fact that God created all things, we cannot but help feel a sense of awe and reverence which is owed to the God of All Creation.
- Via the Supernatural: Since God is spirit, it only makes sense that he would speak to us through the supernatural such as through the burning bush to Moses in Exodus 3:1-4 and with Gideon concerning the fleece and the dew. Perhaps the most striking example of this to me is in Numbers 22:28 when God speaks makes a donkey speak to Balaam and then opens his eyes to see the angel. I mean the donkey actually spoke – I have no idea how I would react to such.
- Via Scripture: This way of communication by God is the most reliable one for me for the simple reason that God does not contradict His Word so if some communication is not certain for me, I dig into the Holy Bible for clarity or confirmation. Then there is the aspect of guidance it gives through rhema where the verses of Scripture come alive for you and it is God speaking directly at you – utterly amazing! The more we read Scripture, the more we assert what is said in John 6:63 that His Word “is Spirit and Life” and in Jeremiah 23:29 that His Word is like “fire, like the hammer that shatters a rock” and in Hebrews 4:12 that His Word “is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword.“
- Via a Still Small Voice/ Whisper: For those who naturally have an introvert nature, it may be easier to connect to God in this way. This means of communication is what moves me to wake up at dawn or stay up at night to talk and listen to God. It is what moves people to take retreats to the monastery or to remote places where they can simply be silent and drown out all the noise and distraction. There was a reason that God spoke to Elijah in a whisper in 1Kings 19:13 and I believe that it His preferred way of communicating. For those who have never attended an adoration service in a Catholic church, I strongly recommend it – the silence is deafening and then you hear His voice which breaks through, beckoning to your spirit.
The facilitator outlined these 10 ways and emphasized that God is always speaking but it is up to us to learn how to listen. The question is whether we are willing and ready to listen. She pointed out that being in love with Jesus comes from hearing and not simply obeying the rules laid down. Obedience comes from hearing and God is particular about obedience as seen in the fate of Saul in 1Samuel 15:22 where it was stated that “obedience is better than sacrifice” and in Jeremiah 7:13 where God complains that “You have done all this and have not listened when I repeatedly warned you; neither have you answered when I called you.”
She stressed that the more you hear God’s voice, the more you know it is His voice and your faith increases as Romans 10:17 testifies that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ.” It is this faith which makes you certain and the Word tangible and denies anyone from taking what you have heard away from you since you heard it directly.
HOW DO YOU LISTEN TO GOD / TRAFFIC LIGHTS
The speaker explained that as John 4:24 says “God is Spirit” and so the key to listening to God is via the connection with our own spirit. The knowledge also that God is love according to 1John 4:8, means that when God speaks, He will not contradict love which is who He is.
She pointed out that we must enter into a deepness of knowing God like Abraham who knew it was God’s voice instructing him to sacrifice his son. Indeed, when we hear, we must obey immediately and this is where it gets difficult. She stressed that our conscience is not a voice of God although God can speak to the conscience. She stated that God is never complicated and speaks simply and that success means doing the things that you hear from God. She urged us to be good stewards of God’s word and to obey God’s voice personally first and be steadfast and active since like a football player, all eyes are on you, those of your team mates and your opponents.
God signals his communication to us in 3 ways and she likened our reaction to the way God communicates to our reaction to traffic lights. Red signifies God telling us to stop doing something that is not good such as sin. God tells us to stop since we are made for good and doing such bad things would only hurt us. God knows that we will not have joy in our hearts if we do not do His Will and he shows us the red light to prevent our downfall.
God also uses the green light which can be likened to us feeling at peace and lighthearted when we align with God’s will and obey. The green light prompts us to action as we find ourselves saying “I have to, I have to, I have to” just like that footballer who has to take that ball (word) and score a goal (proclaim God’s word). She pointed out that those who do God’s will have a pleasant aura about them, look young and are fulfilled.
The amber or yellow light is perhaps the most sensitive one for me, as it can indicate a variety of things. It could be God telling you to wait or to get ready or even to slow down depending on the circumstances and we really need to invoke God’s Spirit in order to determine what exactly God is saying to us.
She ended the session by stressing that we do not have the capacity to hear God except by His Spirit and that we must activate our hearts to hear Him. She cautioned that God’s voice is not chaotic nor threatening and stated that God will most likely speak to you according to your personality, be it the way you talk and understand things. When I think about all the voices which exist in our world, I am so grateful that my Creator has deigned me worthy to hear His own voice. Considering that He only means good for all of us and longs to reconnect to us, we must all make a concerted effort to tune into God’s frequency and walk with Him in Spirit, for when we do so, we shall experience that peace which surpasses all understanding.