What Are the Ways We Hear From God?
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:37)
When I was reading this verse in different translations, it struck me that some versions of the Bible use “hear” and some use “listen.” Those words hold very different meanings to me. Hearing is an act of taking in sounds with those two holes on the sides of our head. Listening is something we consciously choose to do. Listening requires a focused concentration in order for our brains to process the sounds we hear. I’m not saying one translation is right and the other is wrong. I simply wanted to point out the subtle difference because what I’m about to tell you may affect your hearing and your listening skills.
The King of kings is constantly talking to us all the time.
He is reaching out in so many creative ways to guide us, teach us, correct us and love us. All too often, we can miss out on a deeper understanding of His plan simply because we aren’t listening.
We do hear Him though, don’t we? In the loving wisdom from a friend, a sermon on Sunday, the lyrics of a song, a rainbow in the sky, dreams in the middle of the night, treasured miracles, the quiet stirring of our soul… He is communicating with us.
It can be an audible experience too. (Just so you know, that is definitely not something God reserves for the most holy of holy people.) I remember sitting alone on a bench as an exhausted youth leader at camp and out of nowhere, I hear the words, “You are doing great. I love you.” I spun around so fast I almost fell off the bench! I was looking for the owner of the voice that had just spoken into the depths of my heart, only to find I was still very much alone in the middle of a campground. It was God showing up in a a loving gesture to let me know He was there. He speaks to us in the most creative ways to get our attention, just ask Moses about his burning bush moment (Exodus 3).
I think we need to pause for a second to take in the fact that the Creator of this complicated universe wants to have an ongoing conversation with us? Take that in, it’s such a breathtaking thought.
So, how do we hear from God and what happens when we listen?
The best way I can suggest to hear from God is to turn down the noise. It’s tough to turn down the constant agenda-pushing, comparison-inducing, information-overloading noise of our culture but, we really need to pursue quiet.
Information is everywhere and it’s constantly coming at us. We can silence the noise by intentionally sitting down with God. This might require you to schedule a time in your planner; be sure you keep that appointment, I promise it will be the best conversation you have all day! God will meet you in the stillness of your time together, he is wanting to tell you some remarkable secrets (Jeremiah 33:3).
I want to share some tips for creating space to have an intentional time with God:
1) Erase all distractions.
Turn your phone completely off (not just silenced). Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. Set a timer if you are concerned about your timeframe. Ask people to give you a few minutes.
2) Find a space where you will not be interrupted.
A place that is safe for you to cry, sing, talk out loud or be still. You never know what the Holy Spirit will do when you give him some space. I’ve been known to climb in my car parked in the garage or I’ve locked myself in the bathroom, true story.
3) Have a pen and notepad with you.
Having a notepad nearby will allow you to jot down the interruptions happening in your head. Like the pile of dishes in the sink, switching the laundry, the errands you need to run, the pile of papers on your desk… write these things down and forget about them for a few minutes.
4) Be still.
This may be tough for some of us but, this is where our time with God gets really good. I have heard it put this way, “Silence is external, stillness is internal.” We have to slow the beating of our hearts, clear our minds of the worldly clutter so that we can listen intently for God’s voice.
5) Be aware. (Hebrews 2:1)
When we sit with the Lord, we need to pay attention, ask God to protect that time together and then listen closely. Focus on every thought. He will never contradict His promises, He speaks with compassion, gentleness and love. He may show up with pictures or a song because remember, God is creative. If you are unclear about something, ask Him to clarify or provide confirmation. This is also a good time to keep your journal close. Write down anything the Lord speaks to your heart, it may not make sense at the time so, it’s good to have a reference.
What happens when we LISTEN to God?
Let’s take a look at the very last part of John 10:27, “… they follow me.” If we say we are followers of Christ, then we need to know where to go! God will lead us into the perfect plan and purpose for our lives when we listen to Him.
When we know which end is up, we have confidence to move forward. When we listen to God, we discover the who, what, where and when of our purpose.
“I have told you these things so that in Me, you may have peace in this world. You will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
God desires for us to be full of joy (checkout John 15:11). It can be really difficult to have pure joy without abiding in God’s love.
Dear friends, we were created to be in an abundant relationship with our King. He loves us so profoundly that our earthly hearts can have trouble understanding. Let’s practice pursuing God in the same way that He relentlessly pursues us by listening for Him intently. The more you lean in and listen, you will begin to hear Him throughout your day.
What are you hearing from God today and how are you listening?
Carrie married her first kiss and together they have three beautiful children living in the suburbs of Portlandia. She is the founder and designer of The Codex Planner, which was designed to provide believers with more time to focus on God’s plan during the day and to foster a more intentional relationship with Him.