Sep 19, 2008

Random Question - How Do You Recognize When God Speaks?

Random Question

Happy Friday! It's time for our Random Question. I have to be honest, this is a question I pulled from Priscilla Shirer's book, Discerning the Voice of God". It's an excellent book and discusses an excellent topic. So on with our question.

How do you recognize when God speaks to you? Can you tell us about a specific time when you heard Him?

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

If I'm going to be transparent here, then I have to admit that I have, more than once, questioned my ability to hear God. How do I know that it is Him and not my own desires? That is kind of ironic to me too since I was an agnostic in my teens. I just didn't know if there was a God, but I did know that if there was that He would be more than capable of telling me, so I asked Him... several times. One day as I was having a conversation with a friend, seemingly out of the blue I heard God say "I Am Real." Not audibly, but most definetly I heard it in my heart. I was so amazed by it that I looked at my friend and said "God just talked to me!"

I think it's interesting that even though I had never heard God speak before, I knew without a doubt that He spoke to me then. I've thought about this a number of times since then also because many times I have been unsure if I am hearing Him or not. There have also been times that I have been sure He spoke to me but then as things did not appear to occur as I had expected, I questioned if I had really heard Him to begin with.

I have found that He speaks differently in varying circumstances and people. While there have been a number of times when He has spoken loud and clear to my heart like that first time, most often I find I'm not exactly sure that He's speaking to me until I take that step into obedient faith. At those times His voice is more like a pressing or a pulling into a situation that doesn't let up until I have moved into the situation.

At times I hear His voice when I am reading the Bible or a devotional, and something jumps out at me. One time I had been praying about a strong concern I had over someones conduct toward me and a website that I was trying to access was having trouble opening properly. All of a sudden in large bold type popped up the words "Leave Him To Me". The words Hit Me and I knew that was God speaking to me.

So how about you? How do you recognize when God speaks?



Joyfulsister said...

Hi Edie,

For me I had to learn to be still, even after prayer to be able to listen to him speak to my heart. I used to be so busy, and have so much noise, and distractions, and wonder why I could not seem to hear him speak. And I know that whenever he does speak to my heart, whether he tells me to do, or say something, it's always consistant and lines up with his word, because he will not go against his own word. And it is uplifting, it edifies, it's encouraging, and the Lord is glorified. He speaks to me through others, even a litle child especially when they share what God has put upon their hearts and it becomes such a confirmation on what I've been praying about.
The enemy, the world, and even people can play head games with us, and at times can cause confusion or leave us confused.. But when God speaks he is not the author of confusion, when he speaks there is a peace that passes all understanding. The bible says that we have hidden his word in
our hearts, and who is the word, the word is God.
I love this post, thanks for allowing to share how he speaks to each of us in his own special way.

HUgz Lorie

Angela said...

Edie, I love this! I have heard God speak one time semi-audibly, as I was falling asleep. He told me to Go to Richmond and I said what? and he said Go to Richmond! So I went! It might sound nuts, but I pray in my car alot, and I always see liscense plates that seem to answer me.."hehshrd" "redmd1" "sijsus" "gdwrkng" "nkdb4hm" and it always correlates to either what I've been praying or what I am dealing with. It is pretty cool.

Edie said...

Lorie - I have found the distractions difficult to get past at times too. Thanks for your beautiful thoughts.

Angela - I Love that He speaks to you through license plates.

Amanda B. said...

Oh Girl!! This is exactly the struggle and lessons I have been learning. When I finished my study by Beth Moore, "Living Beyond Yourslf" last month and had learned so much about being filled with the HOly Spirit, my church offered two new studies: Beth Moore's "Breaking Free" and Priscilla Shirer's "He speaks to me". I wanted to do another Beth study, but for some reason I felt that God wanted me to take a break from her so I chose the Priscilla study. Well, let me tell you 6 weeks later I know EXACTLY why I needed this study. I very much was struggling with discerning God's voice from my own, the enemy's, other people in my life, etc. Well, God, through this study, through several very hard circumstances in my marriage and my mind, and through a dear sister (Sunny @ a damsel no longer in distress) and especially through His word began to teach me how to discern Him from others. Like Lorie, one thing was to be still and BE QUIET!!!! The biggest thing He taught me (and is continuing to show me) is that He is a God of order and there is a definite order to hearing HIs voice.

1. Seek HIM First
2. Seek my Husband's advice second
3. With my husband's approval, if he doesn't have a definite answer, seek the advice of Godly counsel
4. Then get to work ministering and wait (quietly) for Him to answer. And if I get impatient for the answer...go back to number 1!!! Don't go back to number 2 or number 3 unless number 1 tells me to!!!

And absolutely don't follow you heart!! Don't follow the circumstances!! Don't follow what "seems right"!! Follow the Word and the order God gives you because there is a way that "seems right" to me, but often, the end thereof is DEATH!!

I am overjoyed that God has been teaching me this...and I am humbled and forced to slow down and be quiet now every time I think I am hearing Him!! The enemy is so clever to line up my feelings and circumstances (and sometimes even twist the Word) to make things seem that they are God, but now if I follow this order and WAIT, WAIT, WAIT, and BE QUIET, BE STILL, AND KNOW THAT HE IS GOD, He has been faithful to answer over and over!!

Thanks for asking this. I am also learning that sometimes God teaches me things to keep to myself and sometimes they are to share. Just this morning I asked HIm if I should share this and said I only would if someone asked. So thanks for asking!! I don't always read your blog every day so I know that God lead me here to share!! Thanks for participating in His work in my life today!!

Sue J said...

Can you imagine what it must have been like to have been Moses and seen that bush and heard His voice?! And he was forever changed.

However He speaks to us, we should be in awe that we hear His voice at all. (He's working on my humility, even as I type!)

You have a powerful forum here, Edie!

Edie said...

Amanda - It always thrills me to discover when God uses something I say or do to speak to another persons heart.

Sue J - I always love your thoughts. I have a feeling that you and I could have some Great discussions!

Pinkshoelady said...

I loved this question!
I have missed stopping by but I am beginning to get back to normal or at least able to sit for more than 30 minutes at a time.

I know it's God when It seems off the wall or cracks me up.

God uses a sense of humor with me that is totally His own.

For example: I was praying about my looks as a young single girl in my 20's. I was not happy that I was too skinny (Yes, this was a long time ago), flat chested, had curly hair when every one elses was smooth and straight, and just plain unhappy about being single. It had to be my looks I thought at the time. When out of the blue and between my tears I hear these words, "Pamela, you are a geode!"

A geode is a rock! A real outside in the mud kind of rock!

I laughed hard! I may be blogging about this story next week so stop by.

I love you and have missed you so expect to see more of me around again!

The Patterson 5 said...

Once again a very thought provoking question. You keep us using our brains and hearts!

As a little girl I always thought that I would just hear His voice one day like Samuel did. That has not happened....yet!

Thanks for sharing your answer- I too have pray about my will verses His will but find the best place to search for answers in His Word!

Have a SUPER weekend!

Mrs P

Irritable Mother said...

First of all, regarding the grasshopper, "If he were smart, he'd start praying, too." LOL LOL
I'll be sharing that comment with Joshua. *grin*
As for knowing when God speaks - it's hard for me to say how I know. It seems sometimes He arranges circumstances so perfectly I simply cannot deny that it's Him.
For example, last week I was driving to the fitness studio to work out. As I drove I was praying about my desire to go certain places to speak. And as I turned the corner I could see a train crossing the road. Being short on time I allowed myself a sigh, and hoped I wouldn't be delayed too long. And I continued praying about these churches at which I would like to speak.
Then, just as I was arriving at the train crossing, there was the end of the train. The bars went up and I drove on - never even coming to a complete stop.
It was as if God were saying, Karen, I will remove the barriers. I will make the way for you to go and speak at exactly the places I want you to go. Trust Me, darling. I have it all under control.
Some may call it coincidence. I don't believe it! I was praying, and God spoke to my heart through the circumstances.

Regina said...

One time I was watching the 700 Club, or something like that (not really sure). I was about 11 or 12 years old, and I was sitting in front of the tv (crying), while the pastor was interceding for viewers who had either called in prayer request or mailed in prayer requests. I really don’t remember why I was crying except that my parents had divorced within the previous year or so, and I struggled with loneliness a lot. Anyway, the pastor was praying, and all of a sudden I heard him say, “Lord, I feel that there is a young girl watching this show right now and she’s crying . . . she has beautiful blue eyes. Lord, I don’t know what is wrong with her, but you do.” Well, I was shocked, he was talking about me, I was crying and I have blue eyes. I looked up through my tears and moved toward the tv AND he prayed for me.
Every time I think about that time in my life I know without a shadow of a doubt that God has his hand on my life and He speaks.

Another time I was feeling very burdened about a friend who was lost. I had never had such a burden before and I felt that God was leading me to fast and pray for her. I had never fasted and prayed either. This burden became very heavy during a church service one day and afterward I decided to go and talk with a woman who I knew was grounded in her faith. All I did was tell her that I had a heavy burden for this person and asked her if she would pray with me. When we finished praying she looked up at me and asked if I would like to begin a fast and continue to pray. She said that we could read through the book of 1st Corinthians (one chapter at a time) and fast during our lunch break on Tuesdays. I just cried right there. How did she know that I felt like I needed to fast? I had not told her. I know God was speaking.

Then . . . one time God spoke using MY own voice. Out loud! I was witnessing to a teenager in our youth group and she was giving me all of these excuses why she was going to wait to be baptized. I was trying to explain to her that this is a first “act of obedience” to God after being saved. And I made this statement to her . . . “You can’t wait until everything is perfect in your life before you decide to obey God.” Well you have to know that God had been dealing with me for some time about my finances. My husband and I had a lot of debt, and at the time I was not tithing. We were trying to dig ourselves out and THEN tithe. Well . . . God said, “Regina you can’t wait until everything is perfect in your life before you decide to obey Me!!”

I know for sure that these three events were direct communication between God and me. But for the most part in this life I do struggle with knowing for sure sometimes, especially when I have to make a decision about something (like a job, or to move, etc.). At those times I just have to trust that He has all of my days in His hands. God does speak to me through His word. And His word is very clear about a lot of things and I do not have to question if it is Him speaking.

Thanks for asking that question today. I enjoyed reading everyone’s responses and sharing my own. He is a good God and worthy of all praise!

Kathryn said...

Edie, what a powerful (and important!) question. In the past, I have struggled and wondered, "Is this God's voice? Is this the enemy trying to distract me? Is this my own bright idea?"

I have learned to be still, to be quiet, and to seek Him in His Word, where He speaks to me the most clearly. Many times, He places impressions upon my heart, sometimes He speaks to me through dreams, sometimes He speaks to me through others, and once, He spoke to me through a license plate, too! (Angela, so glad to know I'm not the only one!)

The common denominator, however, is that regardless of how He gets my attention, the communication is always confirmed by His Word.

Weekend blessings, Edie!

My ADHD Me said...

Hi Edie. I did the Random Question. I can't remember how to do Mr Linky. I can't remember if my name is MyADHDMe or Monkey's Are Funny? I don't know what a URL is.

Chatty Kelly said...

I linked ADHD-Jo for her. Just part of my sisterly duties. :D
I'll be linking myself tomorrow.

See you then!

My ADHD Me said...

You won!! You realize that now I have to go back and try again.
I had given it up. Now I'll need to try again. But just once...

JesusRulzMe said...

Hi Edie!

Thank you for visiting me at Cafe Chat and your kind comment on my blog!

I'm really looking forward to getting to know you better as well, and just realized we don't live too far from another as we are both in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area! How cool is that?

I LOVE this question and will be sure to try to join you next week!

One of the ways I discern if it's God speaking to me, is I research Scripture to see if what I'm hearing is in God's nature as He reveals Himself to us in His word (Jeremiah 33:3 & 1 Cor. 2:8-13)

Your sister & neighbor,

My ADHD Me said...

Hi Edie. This morning, when I was trying to read your post, I kept getting interrupted (mom, what's for breakfast, dog barking, monkeys running around etc).
I finally gave up and came back when I had a few moments of quiet time.

I just finished reading it. Awesome.

Do you ever get the feeling that you and I are the type that need to be knocked over the head sometimes for someone to get our attention?

Edie said...

Sunny - It's nice to meet you. Looking forward to getting to know you.

ADHD-Jo - First) tsk tsk tsk, I KNEW you were the competitive type. :)
"Do you ever get the feeling that you and I are the type that need to be knocked over the head sometimes for someone to get our attention?" Yes! I've learned to ask God to do just that if it's necessary and just this morning I woke up with a terrible headache. ;)

Chel's Leaving a Legacy said...

Well, I have one, but I'm gonna have to post it on my blog this week (I will start working on it tonight, but I know I won't have time to finish).

I would take up the rest of the space you have alloted for comments if I tell it here. :-)

Great question!

Chatty Kelly said...

Okay, I'm in. Everyone can come visit now.

Nancie said...

Hi Edie, thank God that He speaks to us through His Words and providence. My quiet time each morning and evening are most precious to me as I pray and read God's Words. I am often convicted of my sins, find comfort and direction through God's Words and also know His love more and more through this time. I am also thankful to the ways God uses His people to encourage me and admonish me when I need to be instructed or corrected. God also uses various providence in many wonderful ways to let me know that He cares. It is so wonderful to belong to a God that cares and communicates with us! Thanks for sharing with us. Take care and may God continue to bless and guide you as you serve Him in your various callings!

Truth4thejourney said...

I have to listen, that's the hardest part! I seem to talk to God a lot. Learning to just be quiet and in His presence, that's a work in progress for me.

God has spoken to me and through others. I've heard a still small voice, had doors open, and even dreamed dreams. He is unique and will speak to us in many different ways. He won't be boxed in. ;)

Beverlydru said...

Hi Edie,
This is my first visit. I came over to see you through Kelly and My ADHD Me. I love your question and I think it is an essential one in our walk with God. It's Monday... so I'm a little slow to post about it but I am fascinated by your blog and will be back!

My ADHD Me said...

El Shaddai, the first time I heard that song was at my son's 5th grade talent show. I was mesmorized. I had no idea what it meant but could tell from a few of the words that it was a Christian song.
The girl that sang it was a very shy 5th grader. She walked out on the stage, picked up the microphone, stood straight and looked out at the audience but you could tell she was singing to God, even at that age, there was just no doubt. And with VERY little piano accompaniment, she sang it in a quiet yet very powerful voice. The entire auditorium was completely silent.
I have just loved that song ever since that day.
(I noticed it on your play list and then again on CK's blog)

Kathie said...

God usually uses His Word to speak to me. He gets my attention by convicting my heart of my transgression and then as I turn to Him, He brings scripture to my mind. Other times He will lead me to do somthing...most recently He "asked" me to speak at my nephews funeral and as I prayed about it, He helped me put thoughts together and then gave me a calm spirit to speak! Amazing. Totally not me. Kath