Not Sure If You’re Hearing from God? The Key to Being Able to Discern God’s Voice

When you’re walking through hard times it’s important to know how to hear the voice of God.

I needed answers.

I wasn’t used to hearing from God but I knew that if I was going to continue to grow during my trials I needed to have my ears tuned to that still small voice. There were times that I thought I heard Him speak to me, but honestly, I wasn’t sure.

In the past, there were times that I was sure I heard from the Lord, but I was wrong.

Looking back, I realize that I wasn’t taking the time to actually hear. I was depending on other people to hear for me. I learned the hard way how dangerous that is.

Several bad relationships had led me to a place where I really didn’t trust myself. It happens with abuse victims. You are controlled for so long and you are told that you are crazy for so long that you eventually start to believe it. I mean, when church leaders and half a congregation all have such nice things to say about a person it must be God speaking, right?

I was wrong. But as I began to heal and grow, I was determined to learn to hear from God. I knew that He wanted to talk to me so I decided that I needed to learn how to listen.

Today, we’re going to talk about how you can be sure that what you’re hearing in your quiet time and as you’re going through your day meditating on the word is actually God and not yourself, your own thoughts, your own wishes, or another voice.

First, I want to say that when it comes to hearing from God, it is a journey. Much like your journey to consistent quiet times. Your ability to hear clearly from God and be sure that it’s him will grow as you keep at it.

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You can see in scripture that there are kind of three voices that can speak to you: the voice of God, your own thoughts, wishes, and desires, and the voice of the enemy. He is speaking and trying to tempt God’s people all the time. 

You have these three voices that you can hear and need to be able to distinguish from each other. God’s voice from our voice, God’s voice from the enemy’s voice, our voice from the enemy’s voice. It’s really important. It’s always best to look at scripture to see what you can glean as far as principles and practical tips when it comes to hearing from God.

A key passage for this is John 10:27, “My sheep listen or hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me.”  This is Jesus speaking, telling the parable of the good shepherd who leaves the 99 to go find the one. In the middle of all of that, he says “my sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me.”

This really helps us understand the foundation of hearing from God. There are three things. You need to be a sheep, need to listen to Jesus’ voice, he needs to know you, and you need to follow him. 

How to Hear the Voice of God Tip #1: Be a Sheep

When you are trying to figure out if you’re hearing God clearly or if it’s just you, ask yourself a couple of things. Are you listening for God’s voice? Do you actually want to hear from him? My children are really bad at asking me a question but not listening for the answer. They’re not interested in what I have to say. 

We do this with God, ask a question without being interested in what he has to say. You want to make sure that you are actually in a heart posture, attitude, and mindset of hearing from God. Are you actually listening or are you just running your mouth and doing all the talking? Are you taking time to be still and to be quiet so that you can actually hear God’s voice? 

The second thing is, are you his child? As a child, I could pick my mother’s voice out of a crowd of other voice. As a mama, I can pick my kid’s voice out of a crowd. I know what my kids sound like. When somebody at the playground is yelling for their mama, I know if it’s my child or not. I know if I need to pay attention and get up and get going.

Same thing for God. God knows you. He created you. He knows your voice. He knows who you are. If you are his child, then you need to be able to pick his voice out of the crowd, and you also need to be assured that he hears you as well. 

The third thing is, are you following God? This is so important when it comes to hearing from God and distinguishing his voice between your own thoughts and desires and when the enemy is trying to whisper lies into your ear. Are you willing to surrender and obey the voice of God?

This is what it all comes down to because you can hear very clearly and distinctly from God on something that you’re praying about and waiting for an answer for. But if you aren’t willing to actually walk in obedience and surrender and do what he says, what’s the point? 

If you are not willing to follow God, if you’re not willing to actually obey what he’s asking you to do, and if you’re not willing to surrender your heart, desires, wants, will, and plans to what God’s asking you to do, it’s going to make it more difficult for you to actually hear from him. 

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How to Hear the Voice of God Tip #2: Practice Discernment

Let’s take a look at a few points that I want to leave you with to answer the question of how to hear God’s voice clearly. It really comes down to discernment. How can you discern the voice of God from everything else that’s coming at you? There’s a lot of noise and stuff coming, and it’s not always good, righteous, and holy. You want to be able to discern God’s actual voice. 

First things first,  God is never going to contradict himself. What does that mean? You need to be able to test everything that comes your way with scripture. Whether it’s from God, from yourself, from your friend, from your pastor, from me, or from the stranger on the street. Anytime that you are getting something from somewhere else, you need to test that with the word of God. 

Does what you think God is saying agree with scripture? If it doesn’t, then it’s not from God because the scripture is God’s word in our hands and so he’s not going to contradict himself. God is not going to tell you to go and steal from the shop without paying for it because that’s contradictory to what his scripture tells you about what God expects from you and how you are to live your life. 

The second thing that you want to consider is, does what you think God is saying match with his character or his nature.  God’s word is how he reveals himself to you. It’s where you get to know him and find out what he will or won’t do. You’ll learn what he says and what he doesn’t say.

This will help you discern his perfect will. When you’re hearing something from God, you may be able to find a scripture that supports whatever it is you think he’s saying, but go one step further and ask if it matches God’s nature and what you know to be true of him. 

For example, seeking revenge or trying to get somebody back for something is throughout scripture. You can see in scripture that God absolutely calls his people to stand up for justice, to seek out justice, to right wrongs, and to seek out this for other people.

You shouldn’t just stand by when somebody is being treated poorly.  Does that mean you should go off and bop somebody upside the head because you’re seeing them do unjust things? No, because that is contrary to the nature and the character of God. God says that vengeance is his and that he will take care of it.

When in doubt, always go back to scripture and check and see if what you’re hearing lines up with scripture and God’s nature. 

How to Hear the Voice of God Tip #3: Seek Confirmation

God will confirm his word to you. We see this in scripture a lot where God will speak to somebody and it will be confirmed. He does the same thing today. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have been praying to God about something and seeking an answer and somebody will come up to me and say something and it will confirm what I have heard from God. 

They don’t know what I’ve been talking to God about. They don’t know what I’m struggling with, but they will come and give me a word of encouragement, share their testimony, or share something with me that confirms what I’ve been hearing from God. You might have that spontaneous confirmation like I’ve mentioned or it might come from seeking wise counsel.

Seek out your mentors, pastor, small group leaders, or other sisters and brothers in the faith that you trust who have good discernment and are strong in their faith. Let them know that you’ve been praying and seeking God but aren’t 100% sure about what you’re hearing. Lean on others to help get that understanding and that confirmation. 

Another way that God will confirm his word is in your own quiet time. Have you ever had a verse that seems to follow you everywhere you go? You read it in your quiet time, then see it on Facebook, hear it on the radio, and then your pastor preaches it during the Sunday sermon.

When you are diligently seeking God for something, he will begin to point arrow signs in your time with him. He’ll begin to confirm those things so that you have peace in your heart about what he’s asking you to do. 

How to Hear the Voice of God Tip #4: Exercise Patience

Be patient. I know you want to hear from God before you even finish praying the prayer. You want the answer to be right there, clear as day, with billboard lights and the whole shebang. But God doesn’t always work that way.

Discernment, the ability to hear God’s voice clearly, is like a muscle. You have to work on it. So be patient with yourself. God is speaking. He speaks to his children. He wants you to know his heart, desires, and his purpose for you. He wants to answer the questions you have, but you have to be patient with yourself because you’ve got to practice listening.

Remember, it’s okay to keep asking. Jesus says, “Ask and it shall be given. Seek and you will find, knock and the door will open to you.”  Keep asking until you have clarity and confidence and you feel like you have peace. 

God may come back through somebody and tell you that you’re wasting time or you’re stalling. That’s a whole different thing. Until you get that kind of message keep asking. Don’t be afraid to go back to God and ask him to repeat himself or for clarification. Ask him for confirmation of some kind. He’s not going to be angry with you or turn you away for doing so.

The other reason that this takes time is that you have to figure out how God uniquely speaks to you. We are all created in God’s image, but we’re all created uniquely and different. We have different gifts, talents, strengths, and weaknesses. Take the time to figure out how God speaks to you and how you relate to him. The longer that you work on this and the more that you practice, the easier it will be. 

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