The title of this resource will undoubtedly bring forth mixed emotions from most of us- joy, indifference, hope, doubt, and even longing. Even now as I am writing my heart knows the weight of this topic. My prayer as we read through this together is that you will know God’s Presence is with you as you read. May your heart be willing to pause and listen to God’s voice as He speaks to you in the unique way He designed you to listen. If you experience resistance, friction, or cringing to what you have read, pray that you would receive this as an invitation to have more conversations with God about what you are reading and reconcile with His Word.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
The first time I heard God’s voice I was ten years old. I didn’t know then that it was God’s voice but in reflecting on the experience as an adult I am as sure as any finite human can be that it was His voice. It wasn’t loud. It wasn’t audible. It was stated in plain language and less than 4 words. I can only describe it as a thought that had weight and led to an action. The action was to love another that was deeply hurting and God’s Love gave life. I share this example because although I wasn’t reading the Bible at the same time I heard His voice I very much had been listening, learning, reading, and experiencing scripture in my life. In my childhood that looked like Sunday evenings riding the “Joy Bus” to Sunday school with friends in my neighborhood. Singing hymns of “Amazing Grace” and “ I have the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy- down in my Heart.” I was also listening to scripture in Sunday school shared via the felt board with all the biblical characters in their bright primary colors. Engaging with each character my friends and I took turns holding the character in our fingers, moving each character on the board, adding and removing new characters. As we listened to the story and engaged with the felt characters we became part of the story. While I don’t recall a bible in my home as a child I do recall the bible on my Grandmother’s coffee table. Most Sundays my brother, sister, and I would go to her home for lunch and I would spend time at her coffee table turning the pages of her bible reading scripture. I’m just a bit older now and am still learning how to listen to God and hear His voice through His Word. Sometimes that looks like scripture that comes to heart and mind when praying, other times it is reading the bible and having the scripture come to life as I read, and often it is reading with Jesus and asking him questions and pausing to listen to His response.
When we read through the Gospels we notice that Jesus asked those He met really good questions. He already knew the answers but He wanted to know the condition of their heart. Answers before questions don’t create the space for us to lean in and listen to the Holy Spirit.
Below are questions I myself have asked and have heard others ask as well. May we come together as life-long learners now and encourage one another as we explore how to hear God’s voice in the bible.
Am I (smart, holy, good, disciplined …add any other qualifier you choose) to hear God’s voice through His Word?
You were created in the Image of God. ( Genesis 1:27) Who are you? Ask God to bring to heart and mind how He sees you. Write down what you hear from God.
For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life ( John 3:16) God loves us SO much. He gave us His only son Jesus. Toss the qualifiers AND the false narratives.
Then He opened their minds to understand the scriptures. ( Luke 24:45)
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to remembrance all that I have said to you. ( John 14:26) Invite the Holy Spirit into your time as you read scripture and ask for guidance. What is the Holy Spirit wanting you to know?
How do I know I am hearing God’s voice?
Deep breath friends. This question must be answered if we are to proceed further so let’s just rip the band-aid off quick. You won’t know with 100% certainty. We are created in God’s Image but we are not God. We are finite. God is infinite. “The infallibility of the messenger and the message does not guarantee the infallibility of our reception. Humility is always in order. (Dallas Willard) God is perfect, God’s message is perfect, but we as His children always have room to grow. When you are listening to God’s voice when reading scripture pause and be still. Reflect on what thoughts, words, and images are coming to heart and mind. What bears witness to the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22? Does it speak in the tone of 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8?
How do we hear God’s voice when reading His Word?
All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. ( 2 Timothy 3:16). Practice. Make spending time with God in His Word and the space for hearing His voice a priority and a rhythm of your life. Ask God if your “doing” with God comes from your place of “being” with God.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) Consider the posture of your body, your breathing, where is your mind being drawn. Invite the Holy Spirit to lead you through the text. Who is present? Where are they? What is happening? What do you see? What do you smell? What do you touch? Hold this before God in gratitude. Consider writing a brief prayer and reciting out loud.
Lastly, God knows you friend. He knows how to communicate with you and He knows how you listen. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. ( Psalm 139:13)
When you call me by my name no other creature turns its face toward You in the entire universe.
When I call You by Your name, You do not confuse my accent with any other creature in the entire universe.
-Benjamin Gonzalez Buelta