God’s voice is a mysterious thing. For some people, God’s voice seems impossible to hear, and for others they speak as if they hear it everyday.
Most likely you’ve wrestled with how to discern if God is speaking to you.
- What does God sound like?
- How do I distinguish His voice from my own?
- Am I just putting my words in God’s mouth?
Your questions are not uncommon. For centuries, people have debated the answers to these questions because our hunger to know God is deeply rooted within us. In our pursuit for these answers, it might be helpful to change the age old question…
What does God sound like? To…
What does His voice feel like?
There are many reasons for this shift in thinking, but today let’s jump right in and discuss 3 clues to distinguish what God’s voice feels like.
3 Clues To Distinguish What God’s Voice Feels Like
1. Pay attention to the emotions His presence produces.
As humans we are emotional beings. We experience a wide range of emotions that God created us to experience. Many of these emotions are uniquely experienced in the context of relationships.
However, the relationships you have are very different from each other, aren’t they? So naturally, you have varying degrees of emotions that come with them.
The feelings you experience sitting with a friend at a coffee shop are very different from those you have relaxing with your spouse on a weekend getaway. These different relationships will produce drastically different relational emotions. Their unique presence in your life is felt differently.Our encounters with God will feel different because of His unique presence. We must pay attention to the emotions His presence produces, so we can have confidence in the words He speaks.
So the question is, what does it feel like when you are in God’s presence?
My guess is that it would be different from the feelings you’d have if you and I sat down to talk. Both might be friendly, but only one is divine.
As Christians we believe God is always with us. The Holy Spirit indwelling us means we are ALWAYS in God’s presence.
However, sometimes God’s presence rises within us more than usual. Especially when God speaks to us, it feels different. Something inside us perks up, pays attention, and realizes something higher than us is talking.
After Christ rose from the dead, He spoke with hundreds of people. Sometimes His true identity was hidden from those closest to Him, but His presence was deeply felt by them.
On one particular instance, after Christ’s resurrection He walked alongside a few of His disciples speaking with them and was mistaken for a stranger. After the disciples realized WHO they were speaking with…
“They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scripture to us?'” (Luke 24:32)
Their hearts burned within them as Jesus spoke. There was something familiar about what He said and how He said it, because His presence was familiar to them. As they spent time with God, they paid attention to the emotions His presence produced and it reminded their hearts that THIS was their Savior. Here’s the truth…
Knowing God’s presence necessitates we spend time with Him. It’s impossible to know the feelings His presence produces when you aren’t constantly in pursuit of Him. To begin to distinguish these feelings from others I’d recommend…
- Schedule consistent time in God’s word. I know this sounds too basic, but I promise if you do this you’ll begin to not only know what God’s presence feels like, but you’ll know what He sounds like. You’ll be able to say, “That sounds like God, because I listen to His words everyday.” (Check out the First 15 page for help)
2. Tune your Heart to love what God loves.
There is something incredibly moving when two people love the same thing. You feel this joy when you find out a co-worker loves the same sports team or spends their time reading the same books. This shared love produces conversation, excitement, and a desire to spend more time together. More than other friends, they “get” you because of this shared love.
Two parents who care deeply about their children are probably the greatest example of this. When mother and father play with their child, their heart is tuned in together and they feel each other’s presence in this moment.
For God, His deepest love is for His people. His greatest concern is for all humanity to put their hope and trust in Him. This love isn’t a hobby, it’s His full-time pursuit since before creation. It’s not just what fills His heart, it is His heart.
If you want to feel God’s voice, tune your heart to love the people He loves. Like a tuned piano, you’ll begin to hear clearly the melody of His voice. To begin tuning your heart to love what God loves, I’d recommend…
- Praying for One- Pray for God to give you one person to share His love with everyday. Tuning your heart to love what God loves will take prayer and action. Prayer will begin to break your heart and action will rebuild it. Prayer breaks your heart for people and taking action to share God’s love with them will rebuild it with God’s eternal purpose. (Check this post for more details on praying for one.)
3. Obey God’s Desires More than Your Own.
If you believe God is present and talking within you, you won’t strain as hard to determine if His voice is real. Believing in His indwelling presence takes care of this crippling doubt. His voice isn’t always found with deep searching and listening. Sometimes it’s simply experienced as you believe He’s there.
However, one reason we don’t always feel or hear it, is because we suppress His desires and lift up our own. This results is great confusion discerning God’s presence from our own.
To train your heart to distinguish God’s indwelling presence from your own, you must obey God’s desires more than your own. Only through death to self will you experience the living God within you.
The hard truth is that if you want to feel God’s presence more, you have to die to yourself more. To hear the living God within us, we must silence ourselves.
Jesus knew this better than anyone. Again and again, He shows us that those who are closest to the Father are those who listen and obey Him the most.
This isn’t always just a reward you receive for good behavior, but a natural result as you trust God more. If you obey the Father, you will naturally be drawn closer to know the Father.
The question is, have you trained yourself to know God’s desires from your own?
Here is the test.
- Does it go against scripture? If it does, ignore it completely and move on. If God’s word clearly speaks against it, or even leans more toward that direction, be safe and trust what the Holy Spirit has already spoken.
- Is it confirming what your sinful flesh desires? When what you want sinfully is being “confirmed” by the Holy Spirit, be aware that your God-meter is “off” greatly. The Holy Spirit will never affirm sinful behavior. He will always encourage you to run from it.
- Does it bring less glory to God? Sometimes things aren’t so black and white. Most decisions you make have nothing to do with sin, but everything to do with Jesus. The simple solution is asking yourself… “Does fulfilling this desire of mine bring God more glory or less?” Instead of JUST asking, is it sinful?… ask… “Is it bringing God more glory?” You’ll quickly find a new opportunity to die to yourself and if you go to the gallows, you’ll begin to feel God’s voice like never before.
As we finish our time together, we must realize that feelings can also be very misleading. Too often horrible choices have been made because people have felt God wanted them to do something. What they felt quickly turned into what they believed God said, and the ramifications were horrific. That’s why this topic is so important to discuss, process, and constantly re-evaluate.
The solution to all of this is rather simple. Pursue God’s voice humbly, listen consistently, and speak loudest the grace Christ died to give.
What About You?
What “hit home” with you most from these three? Would you add anything else to the list? How are you learning what His voice feels like? Comments are celebrated below!