A question for starters

Confession: I’m stalling. I know what I have to write about and it feels big to me, so I’m checking my husband’s facebook account, researching a few song lyrics, twiddling with a draft, and writing on other topics.

This is silly.

So I have a question for you. How do you know when God speaks to you?

I am assuming (though not certain) that you do not have Mount Sinai experiences of fire, earthquake, and a thundering voice.

And I’m curious. Does God speak to you? How do you know?

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9 years ago

Sometimes He speaks to me when I am thinking of something else. I know it must be Him, because it so peaceful and, and, and so resolved. It’s such a solution. A clear path ahead.

9 years ago

I don’t KNOW if God speaks to me. My faith has been rocky for more years than I want to admit.
I think He does, though. He speaks to me through sunsets and sunrises and yellow fields of canola. He speaks to me through people who love me. And through tears. And even sometimes mud and darkness. I hope this is a prelude to a post on How to Know if God is Speaking to You.

Jo Yoder
9 years ago

Often I don’t recognize His voice for what it is, until after the fact. An hour or day or week later, I’ll look back and say, “Oh, wow, how did I not realize it was Him? Because that thought/urge/impulse definitely was not my own, and I can see now that it was His hand guiding me, His voice prompting me.”
But in that moment?—I’m with Luci. Full of doubt and fear and questions. It’s a wonder my Father doesn’t slap my upside the head.

Janelle Glick
9 years ago

Interesting that you post this now, when I am pondering why I am so skeptical about pursuing the discipline of personal meditation as a listening for God’s voice. I worry that I will not discern his voice correctly… being raised in a faith tradition where community is important, I am now wondering if I can trust God enough to listen to him as an individual, in silence, just He and I. But I am also excited about His grace and his promises of revival. I’m looking forward to your next post. (hint, hint)

9 years ago

Seems like it’s a little different every time: like a dear friend whose voice is unmistakable, whether they call, text, email, leave you a Post-it note, send a hand-written letter, and walk up behind you and say “Guess who?” Well….sometimes I do mistake His voice for a while, but He seems to correct me before it’s too late. (A wise friend told me that hearing is voice is like learning a foreign language). And He does seem to like to keep me guessing: not fixated on one particular method of communication.

Sometimes He’s silent when I feel desperate to hear from Him (though sometimes silence itself, I’ve learned, can be a communication. Like “Carry on; you’re doing fine.” or “Stand by,” because He wants our intense attention). But I think that *in the end* His communications have a certain inevitability about them, much like the close to a favorite book. And I keep coming back to the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. “Weren’t our hearts burning within us?” Even when our emotions and mind are confused, our hearts often seem to know His voice. It may take a while for the knowing to dawn on us, yet it’s there all the time.

9 years ago

Oh dear. That’s awfully long. But it was a great question, Shari!

9 years ago

This is a journey I have been on over the last year–learning to hear God’s voice. I know God speaks to me. One clue that it’s God is what Heidi said, it’s an interruption to your thoughts and often different than something you’d come up with on your own. I think hearing God’s voice takes practice–the more I ask Him things and actually listen for Him, the more I hear Him. I’ve found Jack Deere’s book Surprised by the Voice of God to be very helpful, as well as contact with people who are very experienced at hearing God’s voice. I’m praying for the day when this essential skill will be taught in our Mennonite churches!

9 years ago

Super question, sis! Been pondering similar things lately, especially after reading a review in Christianity Today on “Jesus Calling,” a devotional book by Sarah Young. I’m wondering if you’ve heard of it? I have it and use and really like it. I also can understand some of the criticism against it.

I’m super sensitive, so sometimes I make the mistake of thinking I heard something God said and later discovering it really didn’t line up. So, I’m not an expert on this, but a couple of things:
1. Seems like when God wants to say something to me, He brings it to me a couple of times within a short time frame. It may be a verse put in front of me twice or a thought and a verse that line up. Even then I don’t always know exactly what He’s trying to say through it. For example, this morning I came across the verse in James about being quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. It came up twice in two totally different devotionals. A double (or triple) reference to something in a short time frame always snaps me to attention. Sometimes I know immediately why He sent them my way and other times I’m not sure. But I think it’s important to open myself up to what He may be saying in those situations. (There may not always be a reason either. I’m simply saying that those are indicators that make me pay more attention)
2. Kind of along with my first point…if I sense God may be leading me some direction or saying something to me, but I’m unsure, I will sometimes ‘strike a deal’ with Him (this is typically in relation to weightier matters) And I’ll say: “Ok, God, I think You may be saying this, but I really need more confirmation than what You’re currently giving.” This gives me peace, because I’m acknowledging my willingness to hear while at the same time reckoning with my over-sensitivity. God HAS confirmed things in the past through this approach, though I’m not saying it’s applicable to every situation.
3. If ‘God’s voice’ comes to me despite the odds, it’s usually fairly convincing. So…I’ve discovered that when I’m low physically, my thoughts are naturally usually dark. If there are moments of ‘light’–a revelation, an insight, encouragement–I feel the presence of God. He is the Father of light and truth.

And now that I’ve thoroughly taken up my space and a half. 🙂 Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

Uncle Jim
9 years ago

I find that when he speaks to me about something that I want, it is more difficult to discern, than when He asks me to do something that I do not want to do. Sometimes a thought enters my mind on something I am not thinking about at the time, and I am learning that it is usually Him speaking. A wonderful experience when you know it is Him speaking!

9 years ago

Sometimes I hear Him, as others have said, when a thought/idea/answer drops into my thoughts unexpectedly. I usually try to test it, to be sure it is from God, by thinking it through further or by time.

Sometimes I have asked Him for a passage of Scripture that I can apply or hang onto during a season or at a time of decision. It’s come in slightly different ways, but each time, there was an answering passage.

Isn’t it amazing that the Creator of the whole universe wants to talk with us?!

Eagerly awaiting what you have to say about this.

Marlene Stoltzfus
9 years ago

You know, I’ve gotten pretty disillusioned with subjective, God speaks to me (individual) approach; its been fraught with my own hype, small-piece focus, and ignorance in the past. I rely much more heavily on general revelation: who is God, what is he like, and what matters to him?; and, how do I become like him? I pay attention to what Scripture, other people, natural laws, and theology have to say. I believe this informs a great deal of my living, as stated in a sermon question recently: what choices would Jesus make if he was living your life? There are times I feel the specific, situational promptings (inner words, if you will), but they seem to be part of the much larger network of knowing God.

I realize that this risks putting God at a more distant place. I am slowly opening myself to a return of the more subjective (personal?) input. But I so badly want to give him the large strokes with which to reveal himself, things larger than trying to make him answer only my life and problems.

9 years ago

It’s hard for me to describe, but I know when it’s Him generally . . . and if I don’t, I will keep taking to Him until it He makes it clear to me. But usually I know–it’s just different than if it’s my own thoughts . . . like a soft, audible voice in my head that is not my own. Hard to describe. I knew it was His voice when I was praying and asking Him where to take Katya for medical treatment after we would get her home, and every time I prayed, His voice said to me, “Ben Carson.” And when I would argue with Him, and say, “But God, we are a simple, poor family from Ohio–how would we ever get into the most famous Pediatric Neurosurgeon in the world?!” God would answer me so patiently, but exactly the same way, “Ben Carson.” He did that to me again and again . . . no matter my argument. And then after Katya had her surgery and she came through smashingly and I was praising God in her room a day or two afterwards and thanking Him for how He “showed off”, His voice said to me quietly, “But Satan is not done trying yet.” And I said, “What, God?!” because it just came out of the blue, and His voice said it to me again, “But Satan is not done trying yet.” So when Katya nearly died twice after that, I was so grateful God had warned me. And because I believe God is a specific God, the word, “Trying” gave me great hope. . . . those are just a few examples of how I have seen God speak to me. Sometimes it’s just by a very strong and sudden impression–like that I need to go stop at the thrift store when I am in town when I had no plans to before–and lo and behold, there is an item that is just what I have been needing for our family . . . that has happened enough times that I try to listen pretty hard to that too.

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