Anybody Know How to Hear God?

Say there was a character who decided he was going to hear a definitive word from God or be damned trying.   He saunters along in the jazzy rain, barely noticing the rain noodling in through the holes in his jeans, too lost in an imminently practical and frustrating question: how to hear from God?

He reads the Bible.  Read Isaiah 16 just this morning.  He reads, considers, cogitates, grunts.  His mother tells him that’s it.  That’s the message, clear as if God had vocal folds and yelled sound waves at you.  What more do you want or need?  Get about the business of obedience.  Take out the trash.

He’s read Dallas Willard’s Hearing God.  That was good, but he didn’t hear anything afterwards.  He’s practiced the presence of God like Brother Lawrence, washing pans, scraping dried tomato sauce and cheese off fork tines, praying.   He’s even had a bizarre dream or two, which some of the spiritually sensitive assure him are the Spirit’s way of warning him lest he go the way of the lukewarm.  He has feelings that strike him from the blue, intuitions of possible futures.   He has hunches, follows them, and when a good thing comes as a result, he thinks, maybe that was a God thing.

Does a thought from God have a different texture in the mind than a thought from the self, he wonders?  A different marker that can be discerned?   Seems like thoughts should have different tastes, like foods in the mouth, depending on where they come from, our character friend thinks.   That way he’d know when it was the Holy Spirit speaking, and when it was indigestion.

He sits in church and muses over what must be happening in the minds of the people as the preacher wails away up there, the collective spiritual mind messaging that goes on among a gathered community of people on any given day.  Dreams, intuitions of direction, prophetic hints, messages of conviction beyond question…all arriving with astonishing force and variety via the red-faced energy coming from the pulpit.  Explosions of Spirit-induced thought intervening, divinedirection leaping across synapses in unexpected and sometimes diverse directions.

How in the world to hear from God, he wonders, addressing his latte morning after morning.   Finally, he gives up, heads to his next appointment, hoping today might be the days of days, when he finally figures it out.

If he takes you to lunch and asks you to teach him to hear from God, what do you tell him?

You tell what you heard from God, obviously…

10 Comments

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  1. maybe its not just with your ears, but with your eyes and your touch, your feeling. I talk to God as my friend, me Father everyday, its just like a relationship with any other person, but He is sorta in your head, but also all around you. He is in everything and can talk through anything. Just pray that He will open your ears and eyes so you can hear Him, see Him, feel Him. He is here, you just have to look.

  2. Maybe another way to think about this would be to ask. How does Satan talk to you? I’m sure most of us have had the opportunity to hear from Satan as well as God. (You know those thoughts that are just not right.) By finding characteristics to identify Satan’s voice we could then “reverse engineer” and define Gods characteristics, which move us closer to knowing when God is talking to us. (because now we have define somewhat all three, Gods, Ours, & Satan’s, different voices talking to us in some way) Fundamentally, we have to accept the only voice we will hear is our own, but because we have a symbiotic relationship with God as we became a believer, an his in dwelling spirit resides and lives in us, at best we are only going to be able to reach a confidence level of some amount, that the thoughts/ideas/conversation we have are Gods vs ours. Generally though if God is speaking to us I feel the statement/idea/thought will be accompanied with an overwhelmingly sense of confidence/righteousness and well-being that we will be fully settled into acceptance and able to define at least some of the things Gods is saying to us.

  3. Trying to tell someone what the voice of God sounds like is similar to trying to tell someone what it feels like to be in love. We desperately want it to be black and white, but one of the things that makes it so special is that it isn’t.

    I think this is why we so often communicate both via stories and examples… so that others may better recognize it when they experience it.

    We are such victims of the age of reason and the scientific method… it’s amazing we even believe in love anymore…

  4. I hear from God every time Truth is spoken to me in Love by one of His children; that is, if my heart is tuned to listen.

  5. For me it is visual. I see words written down, like messages on small scraps of paper. They are usually very brief. Sometimes it’s foggy at first, but if I get my own piece of paper and a pen and try to recreate what I saw or dreamed I can figure it out. Here are some…
    “make,”
    “woman,”
    “listen do you hear it? It’s the sound of your life.”
    “snags are beautiful”

    …then once there was a voice that woke me up out of a half-sleep, “drink water, or you will die.”

    Sometimes people say things that strike me in a different way, a more stand out type of way and I feel that they are conduits.

    Sometimes I think that the Spirit speaks through fortune cookies! I know, you’re thinking, “how hokey” but hey, God is God, how are we to limit the ways he wants to speak? I’ve had some eerily appropriate fortunes…

    Jeff, when I first saw the title of this post I thought you were going to play your fictional character in a visual blog!

  6. …I realized I forgot to mention one of the craziest ways I hear from God lately. Sometimes I find things on the ground!

  7. Thanks for all the thoughts. Joana, I love the kinds of things you’ve got going here. Reminds me of the stuff of soul of the next post.

    Gerald, I love the “victims of reason and of the scientific method.” But of course, hearing from God can come through those channels as well, yes?

    Wayne, I’m not as sure about the feeling of confidence and assurance when it comes to hearing God, the kind of affirmation you refer to at the end of your post. So often, it’s more uncertain for me.

    • Uncertainty abounds in “hearing from God” for me as well. When there is certainty, it usually comes in the form of a revelation about what He’s been doing in lives already and we see the fruit of it.

      For example, after being gone from the church for 35 years, I had a conversation with my new pastor (over eight years ago now) he said, “He’s been faithful to you hasn’t he.” Those words made it very clear that the Lord had been keeping me all that time, just waiting for the right time to bring me home. There is no doubt that the pastor’s words were actually a “word from God.”

  8. wonder if his question is not so much “how do I hear from God” – but rather “how do I know what I heard is from God?” I confess for me – there is some guess work involved. God speaks deeper than words – like Joana – sometimes I find things on the ground and wonder — did God put that there, and should I pick it up? Or did he put it there for someone else? Either way what helps me most is to fall on his goodness and kindness remembering that even if pick up something intended for someone else perhaps it’s because so I’ll be able to give it to the.

  9. I’ve “heard” the story of the Prodigal Son all my life. I sang with gusto, “God is calling the prodigal, come, without delay… ” I identified with God. I’m calling those prodigals out there. Then one day I heard the call, and realized I am the prodigal, but I was afraid to come home because of what my elder brother might say or do. Then I realized I am the elder brother, also–not God. Jesus said, “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

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