Video by Priscilla Shirer

The still small voice called out to Samuel, rousing him from his slumber. At first, the boy stumbled his way to Eli’s quarters half asleep, believing the priest needed him. But Eli had not called out in the night.

Once more the voice beckoned Samuel – and the priest perceived that God was calling the child.

From the burning bush, God commissioned Moses with the divine purpose of liberating the captive Hebrews. As Moses hesitated, unsure of his own abilities, the Lord promised, “I will be with you.”

Emboldened by holy purpose, Moses embarked on his mission with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Centuries later, a band of ragged yet devoted disciples walked dusty roads with their Rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth.

They soaked in His teachings firsthand, hanging on each parable and miracle.

Occasionally even they struggled to understand Him, but Jesus assured them:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

John 10:27 (KJV)

Today still, God calls each of His followers into an intimate relationship, an unfolding adventure guided step by step through the inner witness of the Spirit.

Yet with so many competing voices, how can we rightly hear what God says to us? Scripture offers signposts – tests to detect God’s voice accurately amidst the noise.

Let’s examine these wisdom principles now as we fine-tune our spiritual ears to hear from God.

1. Does it Agree With Scripture?

Studying the Bible

Does the impression you have align with the Bible? God will never contradict Himself. His Word is eternal, unchanging truth.

Isaiah 40:8 (NIV) says:

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

If the inner voice promotes something opposed to clear scriptural teaching, you can be certain it’s not the Holy Spirit.

God cannot lie, and His guidance will never deviate from the Bible.

For example, Scripture clearly states that sex is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman. If you feel an impression to engage in sexual immorality, that enticement isn’t from God.

1 Thessalonians 4:3 says:

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality.”

Or if you sense a nudge to stop tithing and hoard your money, that’s directly counter to God’s Word. The Bible consistently teaches generous giving.

Proverbs 3:9 instructs:

“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.”

Although God can give customized guidance for current situations, He never contradicts the timeless principles in His Word.

Measure every impression against Scripture. If it fails this test, reject it.

2. Does it Make Me More Like Jesus?

Pray With Confidence

The second biblical filter is: Does the nudge make me more Christlike?

God’s agenda is to transform us into the image of Jesus. Any word from the Lord will sanctify us and produce spiritual fruit.

Romans 8:29 (NIV) says:

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”

When Moses spent time in God’s presence, his face radiated glory. Likewise, the more time you spend with God the more you’ll reflect Christ’s character.

Guidance from God will always align with the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Does the impression prompt you to love others more? Does it lead to joy and peace? Or does it stir up anxiety, pride, or disunity?

Pay attention to the emotional impact of the inner voice. The Holy Spirit brings life.

If an impression results in condemnation, agitation, or confusion, it’s evidence of another source – your own fears or the enemy’s accusations.

1 Corinthians 14:33 (NKJV) assures us that:

“God is not the author of confusion but of peace.”

Additionally, wisdom from the Lord will be others-focused, not self-promoting.

James 3:17 (NIV) says:

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere.

Run impressions through this filter. It will help you to identify whose voice you’re heeding.

3. Is it Confirmed by Mature Believers?

Getting wise counsel from trusted believers

The third test asks: Do spiritually mature Christians in my life confirm this guidance?

God notoriously speaks through the Christian community. For important decisions, you need the input of trusted believers who know you well and can discern God’s voice themselves.

In Exodus 18, Moses received wise counsel from his father-in-law, Jethro to delegate leadership.

Likewise, you need humility to accept correction and confirmation from other members of the body of Christ. They can often perceive what you’re blinded to.

Proverbs 11:14 (ESV) says:

“Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is safety.”

God can use a trusted Christian friend to speak truth into your life at just the right time. Their perspective will provide you with an invaluable testing filter for your inner impressions.

Let’s say I sense God calling me to pioneer a new ministry. This seems like inspired guidance, but it could also be based on my ego.

I would test it by sharing my vision with mature believers and church leaders. Their questions and advice help determine if the ministry direction is from God or my ambition.

God created us for community and accountability. Validate your inner promptings by seeking wise counsel.

4. Is it Consistent With How God Made Me?

Waiting to hear from God

Filter number 4 evaluates if the guidance aligns with your God-given identity.

How has the Lord uniquely shaped you? What spiritual gifts and passions has He instilled?

Impressions from God will always be tailored to your specific personality and the calling He’s cultivated in you.

Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV) says:

13 You created my innermost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

God designed you on purpose, for a purpose. Guidance from Him will take advantage of the gifts He’s lovingly woven into your DNA.

Are you artistic? Does the nudge involve utilizing your creative skills? Are you zealous about financial stewardship? Is the impression related to managing money wisely?

What experiences has God allowed in your life that inform your sense of purpose? Does this inner voice build on those experiences to equip you for kingdom work?

Impressions at odds with your divine design likely stem from the expectations of others, not the voice of God. He tailors guidance to how He uniquely crafted you.

1 Corinthians 12:18 (NIV) declares:

“God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.”

Trust that His impressions will align with the way you’re fashioned.

5. Does it Concern My Responsibility?

Seeking Guidance from God

This fifth filter checks: Is this guidance about my life specifically?

God wants to speak to you directly about your situations, not make you the Holy Spirit for someone else.

When God gave marching orders to Joshua, He addressed Joshua. Likewise, God will prompt me regarding my next steps without bypassing others’ free will.

Consider what Mary said when she learned she’d give birth to the Messiah. Luke 1:38 (NIV) records her response:

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

She recognized the message as being for her, not information she now needed to share with someone else.

Too often, Christians wrongly say, “God told me to tell you…” This puts a heavy burden on the hearers to automatically accept it as truth.

We need to be very careful about how we represent promptings from the Lord.

In John 21, Jesus told Peter about his eventual martyrdom. Peter immediately asked about John‘s future.

Jesus essentially responded, “Mind your own business.”

The plan God has for others isn’t your concern. Listen for how He is directing your path.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) sums it up:

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

The impressions God gives will be specific to your situation and stewardship. Be wary of guidance that tries to control or speak for someone else.

6. Is it Convicting or Condemning?

Search the scriptures to confirm God's will for your life

One of the enemy’s most deceptive tactics is to attack your identity in Christ.

Condemning voices can cripple you with shame about who you are. In contrast, God will convict you with grace.

Conviction says, “You made a mistake. Let’s fix it.”

Condemnation says, “You’re a failure. You’ll never get this right.”

Do you hear the difference? Conviction brings constructive correction. It targets a specific action or attitude to adjust.

Condemnation on the other hand launches a broad attack on your self-worth and standing with God.

John 16:8 tells us the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin and unrighteousness. His conviction prompts repentance, not despair. It reveals the areas you need to grow.

The devil, on the other hand, wants you locked in perpetual guilt. He amplifies feelings of unworthiness.

Revelation 12:10 (ESV) states that:

“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.”

So when an impression produces shame or hopelessness, it’s not God’s voice.

The Holy Spirit speaks gently and truthfully to reveal where you’ve veered from the righteous path. He always reveals the way back.

Romans 8:1 (ESV) promises:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

When God speaks to correct you, you will feel His unconditional love – not harsh judgment.

By training your ears by reading and meditating on Scripture, you’ll learn to distinguish God’s convicting voice from Satan’s condemning accusations.

7. Do I Sense God’s Peace About It?

Depending On The Holy Spirit Every Day

The final litmus test for discerning God’s voice is to ask: Do I have God’s peace about this guidance?

Inner promptings from the Lord are characterized by a deep sense of peace in your spirit.

Colossians 3:15 (ESV) advises:

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.”

When you hear a clear word from God, even if it requires sacrifice or hardship, you’ll sense the comfort of the Holy Spirit regarding the right path. He’ll remove anxious striving and confusion.

In contrast, impressions fueled by fear, doubt, or selfishness will feel restless and anxious. Peace flees when you allow these impressions to drive you.

You’ll experience the sweet presence and assurance from God when you align with His heart. He guides us gently as a good shepherd.

Psalm 23:2-3 (NIV) paints this picture of God’s voice:

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul.”

What impressions currently fill you with stress and uncertainty? Those aren’t from God.

He leads us in righteousness and peace. As you submit fully to Him, you’ll detect His soothing peace.

Key Takeaways on Hearing God’s Voice

  • God speaks, and learning to recognize His voice is essential for walking with Him. Don’t be afraid to prayerfully test the impressions you get against Scripture.
  • The Holy Spirit convicts you of specific sins so you can repent and change. Condemnation that leaves you feeling worthless comes from the enemy.
  • Sharing with other believers will help you to discern God’s voice accurately. Their perspective will provide invaluable insight.
  • Impressions from God will align with the personality, gifts, and experiences He’s given you.
  • Focus on hearing God’s guidance for your life. Be cautious about receiving or seeking messages for someone else.
  • God’s instructions bring peace and clarity, not anxiety or unrest. Seek His quiet, gentle voice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How can I hear God?

A. To hear God, you must cultivate a listening ear and a receptive heart. This involves spending time in prayer, meditation, and studying the scriptures.

By developing a close relationship with God, you can learn to hear His voice more clearly and develop a deeper understanding of God’s will for your life.

Q. Is it possible to develop a conversational relationship with God?

A. Yes, developing a conversational relationship with God is not only possible but essential for spiritual growth. This entails listening to God and actively seeking His direction in daily life.

Being close to God means communicating with Him intentionally and regularly, allowing Him to speak into various aspects of your life.

Q. What does it mean to hear from God?

A. Hearing from God involves being attentive to His voice and discerning His guidance, often through prayer, scripture, and meditation.

This process enables you to recognize when God speaks to you, helping you to navigate life in alignment with His will.

Q. How can I recognize His voice more clearly and develop a deeper understanding of it?

A. Recognizing His voice requires a deliberate effort to listen to Him and understand His ways.

By being attuned to scripture and seeking spiritual discernment, you can develop the ability to hear God more clearly and interpret His messages accurately.

Q. Is the ability to speak to us a gift from God?

A. Yes, the ability to speak to us is indeed a gift from God. Through the Holy Spirit, God communicates with His people, guiding and directing their paths.

The still small voice of God is a powerful source of inspiration and wisdom.

Q. How can one discern the voice of God amidst the noise of life?

A. Discerning the voice of God requires intentional listening and contemplation. You must want to hear Him.

Seek to discern God’s messages in the midst of everyday experiences, through prayer, meditation, and seeking quiet moments to be receptive to His promptings.

Q. Why is building a personal relationship with God important?

A. Building a personal relationship with God is essential as it fosters a deep and intimate relationship with our Creator.

This personal relationship allows you to experience the transformative power of God’s love, grace, and guidance in your life.

Q. How can I recognize His voice in the midst of life’s challenges?

A. Recognizing His voice amidst life’s challenges involves a continuous pursuit of spiritual discernment and seeking God’s wisdom through prayer, meditation, and studying the Bible.

By intentionally seeking to tune into God’s voice, you can find guidance and strength to navigate difficult circumstances.

Q. Can reading the Bible help in developing an understanding of God’s voice?

A. Absolutely! Reading the Bible is a fundamental way to deepen your understanding of God’s character and communication style.

The Word of God serves as a foundational source for understanding God’s principles, teachings, and the various ways God speaks to humanity, offering timeless wisdom and insight.

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