Hearing from God
In many places around the world, prayer is considered a one-way conversation. When we think about prayer, we often first think about speaking, asking, enquiring, petitioning, or complaining to God. Less often when we think about prayer, do we think about listening.
Prayer involves both sharing and listening! Prayer is relational.
Can we really hear God’s voice?
The Bible is full of expressions and experiences in which God Spoke. A few of those examples include;
- Adam – Genesis 2:16-17
- Cain – Genesis 4:6
- Noah – Genesis 6:12-13
- Moses – Exodus 3:4-5, Exodus 20:2-17
- Joshua – Joshua 1:1-9
- Samuel – 1 Samuel 3:10
- David – 1 Samuel 23:2
- Solomon – 1 Kings 3:5-15
- Saul – Acts 9:3-4
- Peter – Acts 10:13–15
We consider the Bible as the written Word of God and Jesus to be the visible expression of God’s Word.
In the original language of the New Testament, Greek, there were two different words used to communicate God’s “Word.” The first is “logos” which is normally used to refer to the written Word of God or scripture. The second is “rhema” which is usually associated with a fresh Holy Spirit revealed in the moment. Sometimes God uses scripture (logos), nature, another person, or even His Spirit within us to communicate these “rhema” words that touch our minds and emotions in a fresh way.
Both Jesus and Paul encouraged us to believe that God speaks to us in the present to give and sustain life!
Matthew 4:4 is the account of the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness. When he was tempted to turn stones into bread, Jesus answered:
“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every (rhema) word that comes from the mouth of God.“
Jesus makes it clear that we depend on God’s Rhema in the same way that we need daily physical food.
Paul also communicates this truth to the Hebrew Christians, Hebrews 1:1-3:
In the past spoke to our ancestors through the prophets many times and in various ways, but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful (rhema) word.
The primary way to hear from God is by spending time in God’s written (logos) word and by doing so the Holy Spirit encourages our heart with a fresh life-giving (rhema) word specific for that day and season of our life.
All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
If we want to hear God’s “Rhema” to us, it is important that we:
- Believe He desires to speak to us.
- Give time and energy to listening in prayer.
What are some of the ways God speaks?
God speaks in a variety of ways. Some of the ways people hear from God are:
- Small voice
- Knowing – an impression or sense
- Bible passage or reference
- Picture or vision
- Feeling, emotion or senses (smell, taste, pain, heat, pressure…)
- Audible voice
- Thoughts or mental pictures
- Through others
Don’t dismiss a thought or picture in unbelief. God uses many unusual ways of communicating. Just think of ways He communicated in scripture! Many times the more unusual the word or picture, the more you know it wasn’t something you would have thought up!
Obstacles to hearing God’s voice
“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.”
– Mark 4:3-7
In the above passage, there are three categories of obstacles that are identified that hinder our ability to receive the seed of God’s Word.
- No soil. Obstacles where God’s Word cannot be heard.
- Theology – God does not speak today.
- Unconfessed sin.
- Anger or Rebellion toward God.
- Rocky soil. Obstacles where God’s Word cannot take root.
- Doubt – Why would God speak to me?
- Fear – Afraid of what God might say. Will I have to do something difficult?
- Distracted – Too busy to take the time or make the space to listen.
- Compromised soil. Obstacles where God’s Word takes root but is choked off.
- Circumstances – Difficult or confusing experiences.
- Others – The voices of others become louder than the voice of God
I am the Good Shepherd, and I know [without any doubt those who are] My own and My own know Me [and have a deep, personal relationship with Me]— even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father—and I lay down My [very own] life [sacrificing it] for the benefit of the sheep. I have other sheep [beside these] that are not of this fold. I must bring those also, and they will listen to My voice and pay attention to My call, and they will become [f]one flock with one Shepherd.
– John 10:14-16
Do you want to hear from God? Do you need his guidance in your life today? God still speaks and wants to speak to you today. Read God’s Word and allow his words to comfort you, guide you, and instruct your life.
Global Disciples Canada is a Christian mission organization that trains local leaders living near least-reached communities to multiply disciples for Christ. One-third of our world hasn’t heard the Good News of Jesus. Yet. Global Disciples refers to these as “least-reached” people, and fewer than 10% of all missionaries work among these groups. We live in a time where many of these people are within reach of a local church. Through our simple and effective training and coaching strategy, believers share the Gospel in their own nations and cultures. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” and we’re committed to doing just that. If you are looking for a Christian mission organization to partner with to become a better disciple and help make disciples, connect with us today!
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