How to Hear God’s Voice and Not Be Institutionalized
“Pastor, God told me you should . . .”
So, has anyone ever said to you that God spoke to them? I guess it’s an occupational hazard for me. Over the last several years it’s not been an uncommon experience. It seems that at least on a monthly basis I have someone, quite emphatically, tell what God has said to them. Most of the time I don’t take it very seriously. On occasion I get a little worried for the person. Especially if what they heard God say was particularly unusual, or outright weird. And you would be amazed how often God apparently says something really weird to people.
I guess these experiences, and the ones I’ve witnessed from the larger culture, have made me a little skeptical. I might be a little predisposed to not believe them because of the abuses I’ve seen. I need to set that skepticism aside. Because God really does speak to people today. God has even spoken to me. And, God is speaking to you! God continues to speak to His people, regularly. So, how do we hear God’s voice and not be institutionalized? How do we listen well for the voice of God and not be concerned for our mental health? Here are three of the means through which we hear God’s voice. There are others, but I regularly come back to these three.
- Through the Scripture! This is the primary place of hearing from God. It is also the most overlooked in my experience. People seem to want some sort of mystical experience. Their own burning bush. And they neglect regular reading and study of God’s Word. Reading and study of the Scripture can keep us from mishearing the voice of God. God will never tell us something contrary to the written Word. Never. So when you’re wondering if something you’re thinking about is from God, or something you’re being told is from God, then ask, ‘Is this consistent with the Scripture.” If it isn’t consistent with the Scripture then it isn’t from God. Read your Bible! This is where God speaks to us most clearly!
- Through Worship! I find that when I’m in the midst of worship, when I’m truly focused in worship, thoughts will ‘pop’ into my mind. For a long time I would dismiss those thoughts as nothing more than distractions. I thought that if I was in the midst of worship then I needed to force those thoughts out of my mind so I could focus more on God. What a mistake! When we focus on God in worship we should expect to hear from God as well. Granted, we should be a little discerning as those thoughts just might be a distraction, but they could be from God. So pay attention. Maybe write them down in a notebook or smartphone app so you can consider them later. That actually leads to the third means.
- Through Godly Counsel! This is huge! Really, seeking Godly counsel is huge. It can change your relationship with Jesus and your Christian walk more quickly than anything else. It will equip you to hear and trust the voice of God. Seek out the most mature and trusted Christian you know. It might be a pastor, or Bible teacher, or friend, or family member. I don’t know who it will be for you. But there is someone you can trust that is deeply pursuing God for themselves. They can help you discern the voice of God in your life. Set up a time with them to run through what you think God might be saying to you. Maybe take your little notebook with you and share it with them. If you’re off base they’ll gently let you know. And if you are truly hearing the voice of God you’ll have someone to celebrate with.
So, there they are, three means of hearing God. I know there are others. God has spoken to me through other means. But these three seem to be the most regular means of hearing God’s voice in my life. How have you heard God? How do you discern the voice of God in your life? Do you have an experience of hearing God you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it!
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Grace and Peace, Rich