One month ago, I completed a Discipleship Training School with Youth With a Mission (YWAM). The five-month school taught me many valuable and life changing things. I completed a three-month lecture phase and a two-month outreach (missional) phase, both of which had profound impacts on my life.
At the beginning of my school I didn’t love God. To be honest, I didn’t even want to love God—but I did want to want to love Him.
This is very humbling to remember.
What unfathomable grace and patience God has lavished upon me that I am no longer in this place! God used my time at YWAM to pull away the rubble from my stony heart and formed in its place a heart of flesh; beating and alive with love for Him.
Although great teaching helped to ground me in truth and build a more stable foundation in my life, it was not this that changed my heart. I was being challenged in ways I never had been before on outreach, sharing one working toilet between 15 people for two months, for example. Still, challenges alone cannot grow you into all that God has for you.
It is by the grace of God and the empowerment of His Spirit. It is His voice that speaks into our hearts and awakens to life what was dead and dormant within us. He comes to us in our tangled, hopeless mess and extends His hand. And He does this all again and again until we learn how to trust Him.
Until we learn how to be His.
Hearing from God – an intimidating concept?
So, if it is the Holy Spirit, speaking to us in our moments of need, moments of devotion, and moments when we just happen to be brushing our teeth, who transforms us from the inside out (and the outside in); how do we hear Him?
Sometimes the concept of “hearing the voice of God” can be a sort of daunting and ethereal concept. A thing we try at conferences or even classes (which are good things!), with varying levels of success, which often doesn’t translate into our everyday lives.
I would like to pull away this cloak of obscurity surrounding hearing from God, because, in my experience, it is relatively easy.
Now, that is not to say that I don’t come across frustration, feeling like I don’t hear Him on a certain matter or issue; it is more to say that in some way He is always communicating with me, even if it’s only a little encouragement to let me know He is with me.
How does God communicate?
So—what is the three-step process to hearing from God?
There isn’t one...
God speaks in so many ways that you can’t simplify hearing from Him into a basic formula. The trinity isn’t a vending machine, they think, feel and choose just as we do.
The diversity and unpredictability of how God speaks should not be intimidating to you—it should be exciting! Communicating with the Most-High is not an unattainable goal! Something I like to remember, which is something my dad often tells me is this:
“Don’t trust in your ability to hear, trust in God’s ability to speak.”
When we remember that God created communication, and is the most keen and well-versed communicator, it takes the pressure off! The more I read the Bible, the more I am shocked by how much time God spends speaking to His people. God knows how you hear best! He won’t stop pursuing dialogue with you just because you doubt your ability to hear or His desire to speak.
Ways He speaks
When I was in the lecture phase of my DTS, God spoke to me in a way that He usually doesn’t. I would ask the Lord a question and He would speak the answer (which I knew was Him because it was something I hadn’t already known/would have thought up) into my mind right then and there.
It was super cool.
When I went on outreach, the way God was speaking to me changed. At first, I was confused and frustrated because God wasn’t answering me right then and there; I felt like I couldn’t hear Him anymore.
In actuality, God was drawing me into His word, specifically the Old Testament, which was where He was going to do a deep work in my heart. On outreach I fell in love with the Word, and the more I read the more I was shocked by the way my trust in God and relationship with Him grew.
God was speaking, He just changed how He was doing it.
The posture of hearing
Many a time God has spoken to me volumes when I wasn’t deliberately listening or seemed silent even though I had pen and journal in hand. Having said that, we need to cultivate a lifestyle of listening out for God’s voice.
This may seem to contradict what I previously said, however, here is what I mean:
I believe that we need to posture ourselves to hear God—not just in a particular moment or by using a three-step method, but as a lifestyle. God is and will continue to speak in ways that we can hear Him. However, sometimes we can miss what He is saying simply because we’re not expecting Him to speak.
I posture myself to hear God by spending time with Him in the morning, reading the Word and speaking to Him. I give God room to speak to me, and spending time around His Word and presence helps remind me to look out for what He might be saying either then or later in the day.
Sometimes I will be hit with a download, other times I am just reminded of God and who He is. Some days I will be asking God about something, or He will highlight something to me, and for some reason, I will have an urge to pray something like “God would you answer this at Church on Sunday?” and am totally assured that He will—and He does!
Get rid of your hinderances
Of course, there are also things which can hinder our ability to hear God, the most obvious one being sin. For this, I would recommend cultivating a lifestyle of repentance. It’s a simple, “I’m sorry for that Lord,” turning from that sin and then getting on with your day.
The other thing which I have found can hinder us from hearing God is the boxes we use to try to control God. In our fear and stress, when we often listen out for God’s voice only on a particular matter – i.e. “God, should I quit my job?”
It is so important to seek God on things like this, and to do so fervently, but we must also be careful that these things don’t take over the entirety of our time with God. Again, God isn’t a vending machine, you’re cultivating a love relationship with Him!
Sometimes when I have been stressed over making a certain decision or wanting God to answer a specific question right now, I have missed what He was actually wanting to say to me. It’s like saying to God “you can speak, but I am giving you limitations on what you can say.”
Of course, none of us have this intention! However, when we lay down our lives, fears and desires to God, it frees us up to hear Him more clearly. Moreover, laying down the thing we want God to speak into, will give Him the room He needs to speak into that matter.
Remember, God wants to talk to you!
“The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” Exodus chapter 33 verse 11 ‘a’.
Lucy Miles can often be found singing or dancing her way through any one particular moment. Such joyous expression is brought forth from her love of the Lord, learning and people. She currently lives in Australia and has applied for a Ministry and Leadership Development School with Youth with a Mission (YWAM) in Switzerland and is excited to see where life will take her.