There has only been one time so far in my life where I felt that I audibly heard God. I was lying in bed spending some time in prayer. It was a stressful season in my job and I was frustrated and grasping at how to handle things with a specific student. At this point, my prayer was probably more grumbling than anything else, but I don’t remember those details fully. What I do remember is that I was calm, spending time quietly listening to God, almost asleep, when I heard: “They are my children, too.”
I thought I was crazy for a moment. But here’s what I know to be true: 1. what I heard woke me up because of how clear it was and 2. what was said lines up with what I know to be true of God’s character. Following this, I found myself with a different attitude at my job. I believe that this was one way that God communicated with me.
Now, I know that God doesn’t always communicate that way. From my experience, that was the first time in over 20+ years where I heard something. But that doesn’t mean that He is silent. God communicates to us in a variety of ways some of which include: His Word, Jesus, His Spirit, prayer, nature/creation, and other believers. (Note: this is not an exhaustive list. :) )
His Word: 2 Tim 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Jesus: Hebrews 1:1-2 “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.”
His Spirit: John 14:26 “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Prayer: Romans 8:26-27 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”
Nature/Creation: Psalm 19:1-2 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.”
Other Believers: Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
For me personally, some of the biggest, most regular ways that I feel the presence of God and His communication with me is through His Word, His Spirit, nature/creation, and other believers.
God communicates with me through His Word when I’m reading my Bible and verses seem to jump off the page in applying to something I am experiencing. Other times, memorized Scripture becomes my comfort or a guide in how I should respond to a certain situation.
The Spirit prompts me in multiple ways. He convicts me of my actions, prompts me to encourage someone through a text or a note, guides me to reach out to others. Oftentimes, this is affirmed by how people respond after I do those things.
Whenever I am gardening, hiking, or spending time in nature, I feel a closeness to God that I don’t feel in other scenarios. I find myself in awe of what He has made and more connected to Him when I am experiencing His creation.
God has also communicated through many of my friends who are fellow believers. They keep bringing me back to Him or encouraging me in the midst of whatever I’m facing.
If our God—the Creator of everything—is trying to communicate with us, well, we need to be listening. Our world is so full of noise and busyness that this is very difficult for many people—including me. We need to create space and moments that aren’t filled to the brim with noise or things to do. We need to be still and get comfortable with some silence. Here are some ways to do this:
Meditate on a Scripture passage
Breath prayers (deep breathing with prayer/scripture between breaths that allows you to slow down)
Spend time in nature praising God
Read your Bible (Lectio divina is a great practice that helps to slow down and listen.)
Spend time in prayer/journaling with this sort of outline: P- Praise, R-Repent, A-Ask, Y-Yield/Listen
God is a Communicator and an amazing One at that. He wants to be close to us, to listen to us, to help us, to encourage us, to guide us. Because of His example, we should strive to be good communicators as well and that also means we should listen. When we are with our family, friends, co-workers, strangers, how can we be like Him? We should strive to be clear in communication and use words that lift others up and honor God (Ephesians 4:29). We bear the name “Christians” and that should be reflected in day to day life, and also in how we communicate.