By Rachel Olsen
Do you find wondering why others seem to have a direct line to God? Do you desire to hear God speak to your heart? I am confident He has specific things He'd like to say to us from time to time (John 10:2-5). So how can we begin hearing God's voice, and be assured that we're hearing Him correctly?
First, let's check our motives. Our motives for wanting to hear directly from God may be a clue as to why we aren't hearing Him much. Do we want a direct word because we are unwilling to stop and read the scriptures for guidance? Will we not seek wise counsel from others because we wish to appear to "have it all together?" Do we think hearing directly from God would validate us as an extra-spiritual person? We learn in James 4:3 that wrong motives can shut down the exchange between us and God. Our desire to hear from Him should flow out of our love for Him and a desire to please Him in all we do.
Next let's check our execution. Are we obeying what we have already heard from God? Imagine your son or spouse asking you, "What do you want me to do today?" You reply, "Mow the lawn." They walk away, thrilled that you answered them, but they do not mow the lawn. This scenario repeats day in and day out. Would you bother giving them additional directions to plant a flower bed when the lawn is knee-deep and still growing? Our obedience keeps the conversation flowing between God and us.
With our motives and performance examined, bible study is a great place to begin listening for God's voice. During your bible study time ask God to lead you to scriptures relevant to your life. Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth as you read. Mull a passage of scripture over in your mind, waiting for God's Spirit to bring you fresh revelation as you do.
Regular reading of the Bible enables us to more intuitively understand how God operates and what He expects of His people. This familiarity with Him and His principals will increase our ability to hear Him and to discern if something is "of Him" or not when we hear it. Always compare what you believe may be a word from God with the scriptures, as God will not contradict himself.
In addition to grounding ourselves in the scriptures, we need to develop an active ear. By the end of winter I long for spring. I'll open my windows in the morning and listen for the sound of song birds returning from their Southern wintering spot. After a couple weeks of this ritual, the bird's chirping are pushed to the background as my focus centers back on my muffins or my work. While they're still singing within earshot, it doesn't really register because I'm not listening with focused attention anymore.
Hearing God requires that we go about our days actively listening for His voice. Too often we send up a prayer requesting God to speak to us about a given situation and when it doesn't come instantly, we loose faith and carry on with life obliviously. To hear His voice we must attune our heart to His, and remain so, with an expectation to hear from Him. We want God's voice to break through our busy, self-absorbed lives but God's voice is still and small - it requires right motives, quiet practice and expectant patience to hear. However, as the late evangelist Charles Finney assures us, "The inner ear of the soul can hear his whispers."