How do we know when God is speaking to us? It’s a question that even the best of Christians often struggle with. The Bible tells us to submit any request to God with prayer and thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6), but it doesn’t promise to give us the answer we want. For humans, that can be a dangerous thing. We have a bad habit of only seeing what we want to see, and hearing what we hope to hear.
So how do we tell the difference between God’s voice and our own? Tania Harris, who writes for Relevant Magazine, might be able to help. In a recent post she discussed how our own plans and desires can muddy our ability to hear God’s response. In order to stay spiritually sensitive, and not push our hopes before those of Christ, she suggests Christians take the following steps,
Prepare to Hear Whatever God Says
“A surrendered heart that is ready to respond unconditionally to the voice of God is without doubt the best prerequisite for hearing the voice of God clearly. Jesus said that revelation comes to those who are willing to follow God’s ways (John 14:21). If you’re not able to keep your heart open for an answer you don’t like, perhaps it’s better not to ask!”
Submit Your Hearing God Experiences to the Wisdom of Others
“The Apostle Paul reminds us that we only see a poor reflection—like looking through a fuzzy mirror (1 Corinthians 13:12). That’s why we need to hear God’s voice in community (Acts 15:28). Your friends and leaders often know you better than you know yourself. They will be able to see through the fog that is created by your preferences and longings.”
Harris isn’t the only useful resource for Christians struggling with prayer. In an article titled, Why Pray if it Feels Like God Isn’t There?, Cindi McMenamin reflected on how difficult it can be to wait patiently for God’s response. Very often Christians get discouraged, or start to wonder if anyone is even listening, but McMenamin insists God’s timing is never wrong.
“God knows exactly when you are ready to receive the desire of your heart, and he will not act a moment too soon or a moment too late when it comes to doing what is eternally best for you. He determined what was eternally best for me was not that I have a second child, but that I birth a writing and speaking ministry to women. Because of that, I now have many more ‘spiritual children’ than I had thought to ask for.”
“When you are in the long haul of waiting and you aren't getting a yes, will you trust that what you might think is a no might really be his wait?”
Prayer can be a difficult exercise. We know God is faithful in all things, but fear and uncertainty can still cloud our judgment. Center yourself on His promise, and remember the words of Psalm 145:18,
“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”
What about you? How do you tell the difference between God’s voice and your own?
*Ryan Duncan is Entertainment Editor for Crosswalk.com