"What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up (1 Corinthians 14:26)."
This verse implies that all of us believers can know the voice of Jesus and we all can learn how to hear God consistently.
Ways God speaks
The most common way that God speaks is through his written word. He also speaks in person by appearing – which took place in both Revelation and the book of Acts. Angels have been a medium used to communicate God's messages.
God has also spoken to different audiences using a clear audible voice – in Deuteronomy to the whole nation of Israel, and in Exodus to Moses through the burning bush. Other examples include God speaking to Samuel as a voice only he could hear. This was a common occurrence since the prophets of the Old Testament said, 'The word of the Lord came to me saying...'
Sometimes God speaks in sentence fragments. In these situations, the fragment is clear but the meaning may not be. One of the beauties of the Bible is that it shows our prophets are human and also need help in discerning God's messages. God's impressions can guide in a form of knowledge, or as a prompting to action, or even the ability to see something in, or on, a person that you can see through physical eyes.
God also uses nature to speak – as a revelation of his nature, or a revelation of his wisdom. And God speaks through dreams, visions and trances.
Recognising God's voice
Discerning the voice of God is to distinguish it from the other voices we may hear. Our own voice will speak to us, other people can also speak to us and this can be good, neutral or wrong.
Finally, the Devil can also make himself heard.
There are ways to help us recognize his voice. In John chapter 10 verse 35, we learn that God will not ever contradict his written word. Further, God's voice has a consistent character. The outward fruit of God's voice is always good. As Jesus taught in Matthew chapter 7, we can recognize people (and words) of God because of the good fruit.
God's voice is also different to our own voice. These tests only work with practice and in an environment of friendship with the Lord.
The People who Hear
God speaks to people who make themselves available to him.
- Set aside a daily time to meet with God – refer to Psalm chapter 5 verse 3 and Mark chapter 1 verse 35.
- Be confident God will speak to you – refer to Psalm chapter 38 verse 15 and James chapter 1 verses 5 to 8.
- Remember we are meeting with a person, not trying to accomplish a task.
- Learn the Language of the Holy Spirit – refer to Job chapter 33 verse 14.
God speaks to people willing to do his will
In John chapter 7 verses 16–17, it says, "My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone is willing to do his will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from myself."
Sometimes God will also reveal messages in parts, where the second/later part is revealed after we have been obedient to the first part/message.
God speaks to humble people
In Numbers chapter 12 verses 6–8, God spoke to Moses face to face. No one in the Old Testament heard the voice of God as well as did Moses. According to Numbers chapter 12 verse 3, he was the humblest person on earth.
The characteristic of humility is ultimately a heart condition which positions us in relation to God so that we are open to hearing from him. Our hearts are thus tender and full of love, grace and mercy. Part of Christianity's humility that aligns well to hearing from God is that we also recognize the need for the Holy Spirit to be in our lives, helping us to pursue him.
Humility is acquired through pain, being with humble people and is also a life-long process. Our life experience, particularly where we have endured pain, shapes us and God refines us through these purifying 'fires' to perfect our character.
Putting it into practice
So, in your small/life groups of safe environments with people you trust, you can practise hearing from God together. The first few times will feel awkward, but with practice the discipline will become a skill.
- Start easy – with a focal point being selecting a specific Bible verse to encourage someone else.
- Seek God for direction in who and how to pray for one another.
- Write down or even draw what God reveals to you and share it with the person receiving it.
- Debrief in a positive and constructive way; sometimes a message may not be clear to the messenger but makes sense for the person receiving it.
Be courageous and take a risk to look foolish for God.