Hearing From God

We often say that we will pray until we receive an answer. How do you discern the voice of God and distinguish it from your own human reasoning?
First, there is no formula for hearing from God. He oftentimes uses the wise counsel of pastors, family members, and others to broadcast His will to us. Naturally, we know that God speaks to us through scripture. He speaks to us through circumstances. He speaks to us through the desires of our hearts. He speaks to us through our thoughts. He speaks to us through open doors. There are many ways God can speak to us, I would not presume to know all of His ways. They are not always straightforward or glaringly conspicuous, which is why we can and should scrutinize everything we believe we hear from from the Lord (1 John 4:1). How we scrutinize a word from the Lord is by analyzing it with scripture, praying for wisdom, and waiting on the Lord. Waiting on the Lord is a time you spend gaining knowledge of Him though His Word and asking Him what He requires of you. It's a time where you consider your motives for doing something. It's a time for making sure your desire is to bring glory to God. It's a time you spend making sure you're going to do it or buy it or watch it "for the Lord." It's a time you ask God for wisdom through prayer and believing that He will give you the wisdom you need to proceed (Proverbs 2:6, Daniel 2:21, James 1:5).

Obviously, God is not going to ask us to do something immoral. That's Satan's doing and the doing of his many demons. But, there are many choices we face that have no moral component to them such as: should I go to college, should I marry this Christian or that Christian, should I buy that expensive couch, should I get involved in this ministry, etc. If we pray and ask God to guide our footsteps and give us the wisdom to live out His will for our lives, I believe God will be faithful to guide and protect us in our decisions. It's a good place to discuss being in God's word. Read scripture and pray devoutly. This is paramount to being in the will of God. Also, be willing to wait on the Lord. Sometimes, God takes a while to show us His will. In these times, we need to be faithful with the responsibilities God has given us.

A word of caution: God put the desire in my heart, so it must be from God. Jeremiah says the heart is desperately wicked, and only God can know it (Jeremiah 17:9). While it is true that God can put a desire in your heart, don't believe every desire of your heart is from God (1 John 4:1). We will have copious amounts of open doors in our lives. That doesn't mean we should scamper through each of them with little or no discernment. Not everything is a sign from God. Just because something happened doesn't mean it's a sign.

Finally, don't be afraid to test the waters. Jesus told us to "ask, seek, and knock." (Matthew 7:7) The verbs are in the present tense which literally mean to keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking. Let me offer a practical application of this. Let’s say you just lost your job. You "ask" God to provide for you financially by giving you a new job. Then, you need to "seek" out a new job so you research jobs in your area and find some that you are qualified for. Then you "knock" by making contact with them and interviewing for the jobs.

God almost always works in our lives and speaks to us supernaturally in very natural ways through very natural means. God made everything that is natural (Genesis 1). So, why wouldn't he speak to us through natural means? God sometimes speaks to us through supernatural means such as audible voices. However, that is the exception, not the rule. Personally, I believe God could speak to us that way, although I have never experienced an audible voice. Most often, it is by means of things which are natural.