Countless times through the ages, the question has been asked, “How can we recognize the voice of God?” Many times in Scripture we read of God speaking to people audibly, and often they did not recognize it as God at first. (Gideon and Samuel come to mind!) So what are we to think about this?
- To hear God’s voice we must be one of His children.
Jesus said, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow Me.” (John 10:27) Those who hear the voice of God are those who belong to Him, that is, those who have been saved by His grace through faith in the Lord Jesus.
- God primarily speaks to us through His Word.
We have something that none of the Biblical characters had, that is the Word of God. When we have a question about an issue, topic or decision that we face, we should see what the Bible has to say about it. God will never lead us in a way that is contrary to His Word.
We hear God’s voice through quiet reflection on His Word. The more time we spend intimately with God in His Word, the easier it will be to recognize His leading and direction in our lives. We should be so familiar with the principles taught in the Word of God that when someone speaks error to us it will be clear that this is not of God.
- Analyze your impressions.
If you feel after a time in prayer and reading God’s Word that you have an impression of God’s will for a certain direction or decision, analyze that impression by asking the following questions:
- Is this impression confusing or vague? God will not confuse us or send mixed messages.
- Does this impression go against God’s Word? If so, it is not from God.
- Would acting on this impression lead me to sin? If so, it is not from God.
- Know when to ask for help.
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. A man finds joy in giving an apt reply — and how good is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:22-23)
Seeking counsel from a Christian friend or family member is a wise step. God does not want us to fail. The more we study the Word, pray and listen to counsel, the more we will be able to recognize His voice of direction. Certainly God could speak with an audible voice if He would choose to, but the reality is that He does not choose to very often, especially where guidance through His Word is available.