How do we hear from God?
Today’s reading: Acts 9
One of the most common questions about God is, “How do I hear from him?” It’s safe to say that when we pray, our deepest desire is to receive tangible clarity, or discernment from God. It may not always be the answer you want to hear, and hearing from God looks different to everyone. There are similar forms of communication he uses for all believers, but it really comes down to each of us putting in the time to learn how we personally hear his voice. Yesterday, we learned about how we are able to have direct access to communicate with God through prayer. By implementing this rhythm of prayer into our lives we begin to engage in an intimate relationship with him, meaning as we grow in prayer the more we will begin to hear him clearly.
Jesus demonstrated this practice best. Throughout Scripture, we read that Jesus spent time away from the crowds and chaos to talk with and listen to the Father (Mark 1:35-39) so he could continue to live out his purpose and understand the mission he was given directly from the Father. No matter how busy he got or how many people stopped him along the way, Jesus always made his prayer time with the Father a priority. His prayer time was the fuel that drove his ministry.
After Jesus died and was resurrected, he sent the Holy Spirit to fill his people and give them power to intimately communicate with God in the same way he did during his ministry. As mentioned before, everyone hears from God in different ways; here are a few examples of ways you may hear from him:
- Scripture: One of the best ways we can hear from God is through his Word. When we read and meditate on Scripture, he can highlight certain verses or stories that speak into our life or certain circumstances we’re facing. It might feel as if the scripture you read was exactly what you needed to hear that day.
- Visions/Dreams and Promptings: God can speak to us directly through visions, dreams, and promptings. He may give you or someone in the church a picture related to a prayer that you’re seeking an answer to. Or you may read something and someone’s name comes to mind because God wants to use you to encourage them in a hard season. Sometimes God can even wake us up with a dream about someone who needs to hear from him.
- Creation: When we spend uninterrupted time in nature, we have the opportunity to connect with God by seeing him as a beautiful Creator. This can lead to an increase of our worship and adoration of him, which can open our ears to hear him and hearts to experience his presence more fully.
- Other People: God can use trusted believers – or even strangers – to deliver messages through prophecies, words of knowledge, or encouragement. It is important that you surround yourself with other trusted believers and ask your leader to be praying for you as you learn how to listen to God.
We see examples throughout Scripture of how these gifts are used well. One of the history-changing examples we see of this in Scripture is in today’s reading where we read that Ananias received a dream from God to visit a murderer of Christians. This murderer turned out to be Paul, the man who wrote a large portion of the New Testament. Because Ananias was obedient to acting on what God revealed to him through a dream, Paul was saved and transformed from a murderer of Christians to devoting his life to sharing the message he used to hate.
If you’ve never heard about or understood things like prophecy, words of knowledge, visions or dreams, don’t worry! We know that some people have shied away from or abused these gifts that God has given, but we also know that God can use them to move in mighty ways and speak clearly to the situations you’re facing. We will dive further into these topics as we learn about spiritual gifts in Week 4 of GROW, but for now, start to ask the Lord to reveal himself to you.
Just as we learned from Ananias, God has important things to say to us. He wants to be in communication with us day-by-day, moment-by-moment. The best way for us to hear from God is simply putting ourselves in a position to really listen and hear what he has to say, even if it’s not what we expect or want to hear. Silencing our mind and creating space for God to speak through the rhythm of prayer will help us to be still without the distractions of our busy life.
ACTION STEP: Take time to pray and listen to the Lord right now. What do you hear Him saying?
Use the PRAY (Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield) acronym to spend time in prayer.
Where and when can you take time during your day to really listen for God?
How does knowing that God communicates with us impact your walk with him?
Who is someone you can reach out to and ask for guidance in hearing from God? If you can’t think of anyone specific, ask your group leader!