How Does God Speak?
In the post How to Hear from God I shared the five steps I followed when I first learned how to hear from God. This affirmed some people, encouraged a few more, and frustrated others. I won’t assert that hearing from God is normative or required.
Doing so would only cause division in the church that Jesus started—and we already have way too much disagreement. What I will say is many people who don’t think they hear from God, actually, do. (If that’s you, carefully consider #4).
Here are some ways people hear from God:
I’ve not experienced this. I know only a few who have, and if they did, it’s not often or only happened once. God can speak in audible words, just as he did in the Bible. (See “God Speaks Through Audible Words.”)
These are words implanted in our minds by God. This is my primary experience (followed by the next two items). Sometimes it’s instructions to do something, in other instances it’s words to say, and it can be private communication. This happens in the Bible as well. (See “God Speaks Through Inaudible Words.”)
God can communicate to us through images and scenes. It may happen in our waking hours or when asleep. Sometimes these vignettes carry obvious meaning and other times their vague or obscure nature requires interpretation. The writings of Daniel, Ezekiel, and John all exemplify this. (See “God Speaks Through Visions.”)
God can also direct us through our thoughts, a kind of a sixth sense, a knowing. People may say, “I just felt I needed to do this.” Other verbs that uncover this type of godly communication include: prompted, urged, and compelled. People may say, “I can’t explain it, but it simply seemed like the right thing” or “I somehow knew what to say.” Examples of this are also in the Bible. Many people experience this type of awareness, but they may not even know God is behind it.
In all cases, we need to exercise caution. First, not all supernatural communication comes from God; be discerning. Second, use the Bible as a benchmark to guide and clarify. Third, seek the counsel of other godly people to confirm or refute any unclear communication.
One way or another, God can speak to us. For some, this is often; for others, infrequent. But when he does communicate, let’s make sure we’re ready to listen.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.