God is Spirit and mostly communicates directly with our spirits using a strong impression in our mind, though His message may also come to us through the Bible, circumstances or other people. Our response should be like that of Samuel when the Lord spoke to him, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Sam 3:4,6,8,10). What is important is that when you hear His voice you don’t resist His message, but rather say, ‘I’m here and available’ (Ps 95:7; Isa 6:8).
The Bible records some times when a divine, audible voice was heard – at Christ’s baptism and transfiguration, at Paul’s conversion and prior to Peter’s crossing social boundaries (Lk 3:22, 9:35; Act 9:4,6, 10:13,15). Throughout the ages some believers have also thought they physically heard God speak but this must be treated with caution as such an experience can be counterfeited.
So how can we be sure it is God’s voice? His guidance will not contradict but will be in agreement with Scripture. Besides that, it will ultimately be best for us, and others, even if it may cause some short-term pain. ‘The Lord said…or told me’ is a termed often used by those trying to show how spiritual they are! Be careful when using this phrase, as God will only say what can be substantiated by the principles or directives of the Bible. More often our carnal minds and desires influence what we perceive the Lord is saying and Satan wants to lead us astray. This is why we should only say, ‘I believe the Lord said…’ and in major decisions we need the input of wise, mature and independent people.
Pray for spiritually ‘hearing ears’ and a response heart
intentional focusing on God, a stilling of our hearts, and a reduction of the competing ‘noise’ of the world to hear His voice. To be of real value it must then be acted upon (1 Kgs 19:12; Isa 30:21, 46:10; Mt 7:23-27; Jas 4:8).
While Jesus currently ‘speaks’ of fellowship, guidance and comfort, eventually those who have not received Christ as Saviour will hear the words, “Away from me you evildoers” (Mt 7:23).
See also: conscience, guidance, hearing God’s voice, obedience.