Some years ago, I worked as a bank teller. When I was first hired, I was concerned as to whether or not I would be able to spot a counterfeit bill if presented with it. The banking procedure manual covered multiple topics, but mostly gave instructions about the day-to-day description of my job. When I still felt unsure about recognizing counterfeit money, I asked my boss about it.
“Don’t worry,” she replied. “When you work with the real thing long enough and you’ll be able to tell the fake right away.”
Sure enough, someone handed me a counterfeit $20 bill one day. At the time, I had been handling money on a daily basis for about two years…long enough to know that while it looked like the real thing, it felt “off”. The paper quality wasn’t the same and when I held it up to the light, I could see the ink was slightly different. My boss had been right. I was able to identify it immediately.
The same principles apply when we talk about recognizing God’s voice:
In order to hear God on a consistent basis, you must first have asked Him into your heart as Lord and Savior.
The Bible tells us that God hears the voices of His children when they call out to Him in prayer and He answers them.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Rev.3:20
“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all of your heart.” Jer. 29:12-13
While God speaks to us in different ways and through different means (nature, music, circumstances, other believers), He primarily speaks today through His written Word, the Bible.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim.3:16-17
I get it. Life is crazy busy. We’ve got kids and spouses and jobs and commitments that compete for our time.
But there’s no getting around it. We must choose to spend time in God’s Word and in prayer (conversation with God) in order to get to know Him. His Word is, by far, the primary way in which He has chosen to speak to us. Just as spending time listening and interacting with our friends and loved ones teaches us who they really are, spending time with God teaches us His character and voice.
God won’t compete for our time…or with the loud world we live in. He wants us to be so attuned to His voice, that when He speaks, we recognize it.
When you sense a “prompting” in your heart or mind, always compare what you are hearing to the Scriptures. God will never go against His Word.
Because we wrestle with our sin nature, we are also capable of being led astray by our own thoughts and feelings, and assign them to God.
“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Cor.11:3
Satan also tries to impersonate God, laying a foundation of lies in our minds if we let him. Once again, check everything against Scripture, even if it “sounds reasonable”.
Mark 3:24-26 “”If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished!”
Since God’s Word (His manual for living) doesn’t cover every situation, it’s important that we recognize His voice (the Holy Spirit), and then obey.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
One of the key points in this scripture is that the sheep hear and follow.
If we hear God telling us, either through His Word or through some other means, to do something, we need to be obedient. Remember, God truly desires to have an intimate relationship with us, and we don’t want to jeopardize the flow of communication by our unwillingness to obey.
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither is His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” Is. 59:1-2
When you begin to focus on and understand the overall purpose for your life and become familiar with His character, God’s voice takes on a clarity that isn’t easily mimicked by any other source.
“Call to Me and I will answer you and I will show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jer. 33:3
“He will call upon Me and I will answer him…” Ps. 91:15a
God has a beautiful purpose for your life. One that involves learning to depend on Him in every situation, through His Word and by listening to His voice.
What has been helpful for you in recognizing God’s voice? Do you have a favorite book that has helped you understand how to recognize His voice? If so, would you please share it with the rest of us in the comment section? I’d love to hear from you!