5 Ways to Discern God's Voice in Your Life

When I first started taking my faith seriously at age 18, I had many people in my church mentor me. One woman offered for me to attend a Bible study at her home. Each week, we would study a passage from the Bible. Because I was new to the faith, I had never read my Bible before and, according to Catholic tradition, was taught to believe I shouldn't read the Bible for myself but rather have a priest read and interpret it. However, as I grew in my faith, I learned I needed to read the Bible for myself. I not only needed to read the Bible, but I also needed to study it so I could understand its full meaning and apply it to my life. The more I read, and the more the Word of God became an anchor that grounded me in my life, the more I wanted to participate in the work of the disciples that was done through the pages of the Bible.

As I read through it, I was stunned to find how many times people heard the voice of God. One moment, I asked for the same experience during my prayer time. I asked that I would be able to hear the voice of God. My first experience with hearing from God came from a vision I received one afternoon. It was a memory I had of my daughter when she was young. She would twirl around in her princess dresses and ask her dad if she was beautiful.

Along with this vision came a prompting from God asking me to write a book on this memory. Out of obedience, I did so, and four years after I'd had that vision, my children's book was born. The more I acted on what I believed I heard, the more God gave me ways to hear his voice. Some of the best times in my spiritual life have come when I hear the voice of God and am obedient to it. It gives my life deep meaning and purpose to know that an everlasting God wants to use me for his purposes.

However, this may be difficult for some of us. Most churches do not teach on this subject, leaving Christians confused about how to discern God's voice. Here are some ways I hear the voice of God:

1. Dreams and Visions

The Lord sometimes speaks to us in our minds when our bodies are most relaxed and not distracted from the cares and burdens of life. Although there is no formula for discerning whether it was just a dream or the Lord speaking to us, if you don't normally remember your dreams but there is a dream that you keep remembering, it may be from God.

2. The Bible

One of the most common ways the Lord speaks is through His Word. God speaks through both the stories and the people that are highlighted. If a particular verse jumps out at you, even if it's a verse you have read many times before, God might be using it to speak to you in some way.

3. A Sense

A sense, or a gut feeling, may also be God speaking. Because Christians have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them, the Holy Spirit may use our gut to give us insight into a situation we may not know anything about otherwise. Although this is difficult to discern, the more we learn to listen to our gut, even if we're the only one who believes it, God may use it to speak to us.

4. People

God can use his other brothers and sisters to speak to us. This may commonly be a result of that person hearing from God. If someone approaches you and says, "I believe I have a word for you,' listen closely to what they say. Sometimes things resonate with us; other times, it doesn't. 1 Thessalonians 5:20 says, "Do not treat prophecy with contempt." The two common ways we treat prophecy with contempt are to deny what we have heard or ignore it altogether. Although sometimes people can mess up the interpretation of a prophetic word, it is important to at least analyze it and test it with community to make sure it's not God speaking.

5. Mind's Eye

The most common way I hear from God is through pictures that are within my mind's eye. These are words and pictures that are different than merely just a thought. If I give people a word, I will tell them the picture or the word that comes to my mind. Although it is not my job to interpret, I will be obedient to what I hear.

Here are some things you can do to understand the word you receive:

Test It

Scripture tells us we must test every word of prophecy. When we receive a word, we can test it by letting two or three people we trust give their input. Although the people you ask may not necessarily know the answer, they will at least be able to pray and ask God to give them wisdom and discernment. If it is a word from the Lord, there will be some semblance of unity or disunity because of it.

Wait On It

Not every prophetic word is required an immediate response. Throughout Scripture, many prophetic words are given, some of which take many years to come to fruition. Don't rush simply because you hear a word. Wait on the spirit and allow him to let you know when—or if—to act upon it. Once you believe it is time to act, gently let the person know you have a word and ask if it means anything to you. If it does, you fulfilled the role God wanted you to play, delivering his word.

Pray about It

The most important thing you can do when you receive a word is to ask the spirit to whom it is for and what is the meaning behind it. Sometimes the spirit will give us additional information to help us understand what he's trying to tell us. However, our prayers are met with silence. Don't take silence as a sign that God doesn't care or didn't speak. Instead, wait on his timing, and if he wants that word to come to pass, it will come to fruition on his timing, not ours.

If you have never heard from God before, or you're relatively new to interacting with him, it is best to seek the wisdom of your pastor or another leader who can help you navigate these exciting moments of hearing from him. Sometimes it's hard to discern whether it is God speaking your own emotions or will. The most important thing is not to rush what you hear. Write it down and pray about it. Ask the spirit to give you any information that will help you deal with God's word appropriately. Try not to read into anything but rather seek wise counsel from good people, and together in community, you will be able to hear the voice of God.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Daniela Jovanovska-Hristovska

Writer Michelle LazurekMichelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.com.

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