In Part 3, I will discuss about the “HOW” factor – How goes God speak to us? If you’ve been asking that you’ve never heard the voice of God, you are definitely wrong. He has spoken to you so many times but you probably weren’t aware that it’s God’s.
HOW – How does God speak to us?
God speaks to us in many ways but often we want a supernatural phenomenon to confirm the voice of God. In the Old Testament, God often spoke audibly and directly to His people. Sometimes He spoke through other means like the burning bush to Moses, or to Mary through angels, or even through an animal like Balaam’s donkey! Of course, we might be spooked if our dog suddenly talks, so thank God that He doesn’t need to speak to us in that way!
So how does He speak to us then nowadays? There are a few ways that He uses but DO NOT take one of these on its own as a sign of God’s voice. Except for point number one, you CANNOT be sure that it is from God’s. You have to pray for it consistently until you have a solid conviction that it is indeed from God.
- God speaks through His Word – reminded by the Holy Spirit
His Word comes from the Bible (through reading it, daily devotional, sermons, seminars, spiritual books, or even songs). The Holy Spirit then reminds us of His Word in our daily lives.
John 14:26 – “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” -ESV
John 16:8 – “And when he (The Helper – the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” -ESV
Whatever voice we’ve heard, if it contradicts with the scriptures, it is NOT from God. Period. God never contradicts Himself and He never made a mistake when He guided the writers to write the Bible! So if you think that God answers your prayers, think again. As such, it is really important for you to know His Word to be able to differentiate this. In every “road intersection” in life, you always have to go back to His Word to get an answer whenever possible.
For example, let’s say we are struggling financially and we then pray about it every day to God. All of a sudden, the phone rings and we are given a job offer with a really good pay! However, it requires you to work on Sunday all day long and you will not have time to go to church as a result. If you are not careful, you might think that this is the voice from God for answering your prayers! If you really know Him well (from His words), you’ll realize that God actually commands you to honor the Sabbath day and there are other verses telling us that God was angry when the Israelites didn’t honor it! He definitely wants you to go to church every week to worship Him, to listen and study His Word, to serve, to encourage one another, and to share the good news to newcomers. Be careful with what you think as God’s answer to your prayer – if it contradicts with the scriptures, it is not God’s.
Have you ever done something and all of a sudden, a verse “magically” appears in your mind? Such as when you got angry and all of a sudden you remember God says to be quick to listen and slow to speak? I have that kind of moment many times. One day, I was just being so lazy to wake up from bed and thought of telling my boss that I was unwell. All of a sudden, the verse from Proverbs 6:9 struck my mind (shouting at me for being lazy and telling me to get up from bed!). Not to mention that “Satan is the father of lies” came after I woke up (when I was literally ironing my shirt and still thinking to lie and took that sick leave!). This is the work of the Holy Spirit and as such, it is crucial for you to be filled with His Word.
He can also speak to you through songs – when you are feeling down or in distress, His Word through the songs strengthen you to get back up (which happened to me quite often too from my “favorite songs in different situations”)
I’m sure God has spoken to you too so many times in this way. Often we focus too much on our current problems and want God’s answer just on that specific problem (such as a hard choice that you have to make a.s.a.p). Where in fact, God wants to speak to us on different matters – things that we need to let go (sins, bad attitudes, etc) or things that He wants us to do before we even come to Him and ask for His guidance.
- God can speak through your thoughts
These are the things that are not directly related to Bible verses. Sometimes you may be given a thought to do something weird all of a sudden (such as talking to a complete stranger, or to call a certain friend to ask how he/she is only to find that he/she is in distress). Or have you ever wondered why you took a decision that didn’t make sense in the past? I still wonder why I decided to study in Melbourne when I certainly never thought of studying abroad – yet He called me in 2002 in Melbourne, so yeah, there was a purpose in that definitely!). Or have you ever thought of a long lost friend all of a sudden when you prayed for someone to be invited to our Christmas celebration? Or perhaps you were being reminded of your own prayer some years before?
- God can speak through other people, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ
After David sinned, God spoke to him through Nathan, the prophet (2 Samuel 12). There are times when God speaks to you through other Christians but again, you need to be careful as this does not always the case and as such, it’s important to go back to prayer and have that conviction that it is from God’s.God spoke to me once about one of my ministries as a webmaster (at ebcmelbourne.org). I always wrote a sermon summary every Sunday and uploaded it to our website. About a year after, I got “burnt out” because I realized there weren’t many who read the sermon summaries so I was thinking to quit that ministry altogether (why should I bother with the tedious work if it’s for nothing?). I struggled and brought it to prayer for about 2 weeks.
God spoke to me through 2 people: a stranger (through our guestbook) and an ex-member of our church who had gone back overseas.
This stranger, named Edwin Maxmillian, wrote:
(14.07.2003) – “I was so confused when my friend asked me to preach on his son b’day…. and finaly i found this website… it help me a lots to find topics”
It hit me hard. As if this was not enough as a confirmation, there was an email coming to our mailing list not long after from an alumnus. She wanted to thank whoever updated our website with the sermon notes as she had been blessed by it. I was almost in tears as I realized that it is God who truly spoke to me. All these times, I wanted to see results and also appreciation from others when I served Him. I was ashamed because God had to take these steps to remind me of what it means for truly serving Him. After this, my philosophy changed and I promised to be glad in serving Him even if I couldn’t see any obvious results or even when no one seemed to appreciate. Even if it’s just one person who got blessed from my ministry to God, it is enough. I hope you have this same mentality too and do not need God to remind you like He did to me.
There are many other experiences where I got reminded by God through my closest friends, my pastor at church, or even from someone in a restaurant, but I’ll tell you some other time :)
- God can speak through events or things that happen around us
He can speak through things that are happening in your life right now. He can even speak through “unimaginable” things like when you are watching a cartoon movie, a TV commercial, or by reading someone else’s Facebook status. He is creative!Sometimes He speaks by “closing the door” when we make a wrong choice. Remember Jonah? He didn’t want to go to Nineveh but God made a storm came, made the lot fell to Jonah, and sent a whale. This is an extreme example, perhaps (as Jonah knew exactly what God wanted and tried to run away), but it can happen to us too. Again, be careful in this. If you take this literally, you may think that God does not want you to work because you always fail when you try to apply for jobs! Remember that He spoke in the Bible that you shouldn’t eat if you don’t work. Again, pray hard.
I believe when God has a big plan for us, He will tell and direct us to that plan no matter what happens. We’ll then end up on a place where God wants us to be all along. Don’t waste it and listen to Him well!
- God can speak through a sense of peace
When a choice you make (or you are going to make) does not seem to bring peace (or there is this uneasy feeling that you cannot describe), then there is a possibility that it’s not what God wants you to do. This can give a false sense of security though, so pray for it, again.It is amazing that when you really know what God’s will is, you will never be scared even when things aren’t going well in life.
It is important to be sensitive all the time so that we can hear His voice for often God’s voice is just a gentle whisper.
1 Kings 19:11 -13 – 11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Our hardened heart, being too busy with our own activities and struggles, playing too much games, or when you don’t spend enough quality time with God can kill our sensitiveness in listening to God’s whisper. Things then go downhill fast. We struggle a lot because we weren’t following Him (He knew what would happen when we took a choice that we thought was good). Your ministry will get harder to cope and you always have this feeling that you are “burnt out”. Ask Him. He has blessed you with specific gifts. If you know what your calling is, you will not get burnt out (exhausted, yes – but not burnt out as you are always be filled with joy for doing what you were called to do)!
Stay tuned for Part 4 – What if we’re still unsure it’s God’s voice? And what if we’ve been praying for so long yet we feel that God is silent? What should we do then? Why is this happening?