I recently realized that being sure you’re hearing from God isn’t as “common” as I thought. Friends mention they admire my confidence in hearing God, and it makes me take a step back. I thought I was behind or late in deciphering the voice of God, because I can’t say that I knew I was hearing from Him until my mid to late twenties.
Before that, I am sure He was talking. Perhaps, at times, I was listening. Or maybe I was ignoring Him. Or maybe I was mixing His voice up with other voices in my head. I’m not certain which culprit to blame. However, being confident that I was hearing from God did not happen overnight. It took time, patience, growth, and a willingness to both listen and get out of the way.
I don’t usually hear God with my ears, like I may hear a dog whimpering or my mom calling my name. I can only think of one time when I did. It wasn’t His voice I heard, though, in terms of words. But it was definitely Him. I was completing board exams for my chiropractic license. We spent months preparing for these 3 intense days of exams. We had to be on-site by 7 am. And we were scheduled to test all day, until 4 pm or 5 pm. On the final day, we had to arrive in shifts. Those assigned to the first shift had to check-in before 7 am. By nature of my last name, I was put in this group. During the exam review sessions, we were encouraged to dress professionally and wear our white clinic jackets for the 3rd and final exam day. We were also encouraged to bring a lunch and snacks since we would be in a holding room until all shifts had been admitted into the exam, which was estimated to be around 4 pm. The night before the exam, I spent hours reviewing my “don’t forget this” and “you always mess up here” notes. I then attempted to complete a mini-checklist of ironing clothes, gathering snacks, and showering. But I was exhausted, so I resolved to handle all of this in the morning. I went to bed and drifted off for what I planned to be about 5 hours of sleep.
The next morning, I was awakened by a loud “CLAP”! It was the sound of two large hands slapping together to make one audible jolt. I looked at my clock and my phone, and I had quite obviously slept through all of the alarms. I had less than 20 minutes to dress, pack a lunch, grab my clinic bag and white coat, drive to campus, park, run up the stairs, and check-in for this exam. Mind you, on a good day, the drive alone took 15 minutes. By God’s grace, I made it. And I know that God’s “clap” is the only reason I even woke up that morning.
I “hear” Him in my gut.Dr. Asha
There are other more subtle ways I hear God. I “hear” Him in my gut. When I committed to really hearing from God, I tested out this theory. I remember driving to work at the clinic and asking God which route I should take that day. Leaving my neighborhood, you can only turn left or right. While either direction will navigate through different paths, both will take you to the clinic. So, I made a practice of praying to God at the stop sign, “Which way should I go today?” Then I would go the way I thought God said. When I turned that way, I would search in my belly for any feelings of being nervous or unsure. If those feelings were present, I would turn around and go the other way. Once on the alternate path, I would search my belly again for feelings of ease or settling.
I did this many mornings until it became more natural. It was an attempt to strengthen my ability to hear God. Over time, I just knew which way God was telling me to go, and it didn’t involve as many steps. I also knew when I ignored God and went the wrong way. On those days I might end up behind 4 and 5 school buses and God would say, “See, I told you.” Or I may nearly be in an accident and God would say, “You went too fast to listen to me this morning.” I think this regular and repeated practice at the stop sign helped tune my ear to God’s voice.
I used to think that God only spoke during those times when I said to myself, “Ok, time to pray,” or “I need to put that on my list to pray about later.” I had to stop boxing God in like that. He is always talking.Dr. Asha
Eventually, I also learned that God’s speaking to me isn’t relegated to when I “deliberately” reach out to Him in prayer. I have to say deliberately in quotation marks, because prayer is simply having a conversation with God. So, we could really be praying all day, if you look at it that way. But I say “deliberately,” because those may be times we set aside to pray or times we pause to pray, such as first thing in the morning, last thing at night, or during times of trouble. I used to think that God only spoke during those times when I said to myself, “Ok, time to pray,” or “I need to put that on my list to pray about later.” I had to stop boxing God in like that. He is always talking. I think I learned this best from speaking myself.
As a national speaker, I may spend weeks preparing, researching, and praying as I put together speaking points and takeaways. God speaks to be during this preparation period, but I hear from Him in this other pronounced way when I am actually upfront and speaking. It’s like I am having a conversation with the audience with my lips, yet I am concurrently having a conversation with God in my heart. He will tell me to skip that part or to stay and marinate on this part or to use this anecdote here. Sometimes, He tells me to say something that is not in my notes, and the concept is nearly as new to me as it is to the audience! He even tells me to walk towards a specific person, look deeply into her eyes, and speak directly to her. He also tells me when to be silent.
What I am working on listening better to is when He tells me to stop. I can feel the “allotted” time passing, and I know when to wrap it up. But there are times when God is telling me to stop, because that is all He wanted me to say. When I keep going, I am crossing over into what Asha wants to say instead of what God wants to say. It’s kind of like a faucet—it’s on, and then it’s off. I have kept talking after He turned off the faucet on several occasions, and I knew that it was entirely my ego leading that charge. I felt horrible afterward. That’s how I knew it was me speaking, instead of God speaking through me.
I hear Him in my soul.Dr. Asha
In my personal life, I have a strong sense that God is speaking. I just know now. In fact, I have journals and Evernotes and Google Docs full of what God is saying to me. They may be solutions to problems, new ideas, reflections on life, encouraging words for myself and/or others, or even Him telling me He is proud of me. I hear Him in my soul.
In this assurance of hearing God, though, I can also manipulate what I am listening to. I may say, “God, You’re ok with me not doing this and doing that instead, right?” Not only do I barely wait for a response, but I’m also asking God to un-say what He said prior, pretending that what I really want is what He meant to say in the first place. (YIKES, I know.) Therefore, what I am working on now is checking my intentions. If I have to ask, 9 times out of 10 I already know the answer: God said what He said! Instead, I need to search my intentions and why I want Him to have said something different. Is it truly me asking Him for permission, like when someone needs my help on the day I set aside to honor Sabbath? (See Mark 3:1-6.) Or am I pushing my agenda, like King Saul did when he offered a burnt offering before a battle, instead of waiting for the prophet to come and render the offering as God instructed? (See 1 Samuel 11:5-14.) In both (and in all) situations, God is speaking. I have to check my intentions when I am listening.
In all situations, God is speaking. I have to check my intentions when I am listening.Dr. Asha
God speaks in so many ways, and we can hear His voice for ourselves. This article that you are reading today is a prime example. God spoke to me as I was writing it. And He is speaking to you as you are reading it. The Bible says that God looks to and fro to show His strong support in our lives. (See 2 Chronicles 16:9.) So, whether you are crying out to Him, asking Him for direction, or resting in His company on a lazy day — tune your ear. God is speaking to you.