So, I've been teaching people to pray for years now, and one question that I hear a lot is: "How do I hear the voice of God?" The first person who asked me this was my daughter Kaleigh. She was six. "Mama, I know that when I pray, I talk to God. But how does He talk to me? I hear Daddy when he talks to me; I hear you when you talk to me; but I don't hear God? Why doesn't he just talk to me like you do?"
Just last week my son, TJ asked the same question. His went like this, "Mom, seems to me that if God made mouths and ears for us to use when we communicate with one another--He'd understand that THAT is the way we hear! Why then, doesn't He just speak to us with His own mouth so that we can hear Him with our own ears?"
My Sunday School answer to everyone--Kaleigh, TJ and all the others who've ever asked me about hearing the voice of God--has been, that most of what God has to say to us He's already said in His Word. We just need to read it; obey it; and as we do that we'll get better at being able to trust that inner "feeling...voice...whisper...whatever it is inside of us that makes us feel like we're hearing a voice other than our own..."
I don't think you can be a follower of Christ without spending time in His Word on a daily basis. How can you follow Him if you don't know where He's leading you?
With that said, I do read the Bible almost every single day. And everytime I open God's Word--He has a WORD for me. But sometimes, when I'm in a faith workout season of my life (such as I am in right now), I begin to hear that inner voice a bit louder. But because I know that my own thoughts can interfere with God's voice I always make whatever it is that I think I've heard from God--bow down to His Word. I ask God to validate the "voice" with Scripture.
This happened to me on October 20. I thought I heard God tell me something that I VERY MUCH wanted to hear. It was a miracle He was going to perform by Thanksgiving Day. In keeping with my own rule, I asked Him to validate His "word" to me by giving me Scripture. God gave me Isaiah 55:11-13 (a passage of Scripture that tells us that God's Word never returns to Him without first accomplishing all that He means for it to accomplish.) I was excited to hear this; since I'd waited for months for God to do this miracle. But the closer I got to Thanksgiving; the more I doubted whether or not I'd heard God's "word" or just validated my own desire.
Only Jesus never had to feel this way. He always heard His Father's voice. And He never doubted if His own desires were playing tricks on Him. His "secret" was that He'd come to a place where He genuinely had "no will of His own." (see John 6:38)
I haven't come to that place. I have a will of my own. I have my own timing and my own limits to my own distress. On Thanksgiving Day I learned that I still have much to learn and more to "die to." My miracle didn't come--not the way I expected it. But, in keeping with His faithfulness, God renewed my strength! (Isaiah 40:31).
He also gave me another "word" on Friday afternoon when I went with Kaleigh to the attic to pull down some decorations. This one was definitely from Him--it was printed on the doorframe that connects TJ's room to the attic. It was put there by the men who did the remodeling for us. I've been in and out of that door at least 100 times and have never seen that "word" before. So--because I know that God hears me everytime I pray; because I know that He collects every tear I shed; and because I believe that He is WITH ME NOW; I KNOW I heard Him this time. The verse above that door said this,
Philippians 1:6 "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
And that "word" from that "voice" is quite enough for me today.
I'm wife to Tom. He pastors Thompson Station Church in Thompson Station, TN. We've been there 22+ years (since January 1989)--the only church we've ever served since graduating from SWBTS. I have two daughters--Mikel (19) and Kaleigh (17), and one son, TJ (15). I also have a granddaughter, Misty (born 2-9-11) and a new son-in-law Austin (20).
I love to write and have 7 books in print. Three are in the Lifeway bookstores. And a new one released by Bethany House June 2011. I'm on staff at TSC and serve as the prayer and women's minister. I enjoy laughing, love "alone" time, and am learning to "be still" so I "will know."