I recently sat down for lunch with a friend. While we were catching up she asked me a very pointed questions – she said, “What can I be praying about for you?” I could have asked for the usual things, wisdom, direction, strength in this season of building. Instead though, I asked that she pray that I would be more mobile when I heard God speak to me and that I wouldn’t ignore Him or write it off.
Naturally that response led our conversation down the path of what hearing from God really looks like, because truthfully, we don’t talk about hearing the Holy Spirit or God speak to us enough. I’ll be the first to admit in the past, whenever I’ve heard somebody say “God told me this” I’ve kind of looked them a bit quizzically. Maybe even a little skeptically. And always with the question in mind “Do you REALLY hear from God?”
It’s a hard question to wrestle with. So many Christians have used the line “God told me so” to do some pretty awful things. We can’t validate these messages by typical standards, so it’s easy to question the validity of someone’s claim. Up until very recently, the notion of hearing God speak to me was not something I had actually ever experienced.
It wasn’t until about a year ago that I started really thinking about this idea of God speaking to me. I’d heard from so many people how they heard from God, and so I began praying “Lord I want to hear you. Help me notice when you’re speaking to me through the Holy Spirit.” Through my studying of His word and some intentionality on my part to be in continuous prayer with Him throughout my day, God has shown me just how often He really is speaking to me.
Now, like a lot of people, I always just assumed that I’d hear some audible voice. Or I’d experience an overwhelming feeling that I would just KNOW was God. For some people that may actually be the cause, but for me, and my guess many others, that’s not the case.
I was surprised at first to notice that a lot of times God speaks to me through other people. It might be through someone’s post on Facebook. Through a random text. Or in the lyrics of a song. I found myself at a point last year where I was just at grappling with questions. Situations had arose that left me unsure about myself, about what God was calling me to do, and I felt lost and unsure. Then as I was driving to pick up kids one morning, a song that I’ve heard a million times came on and the chorus sang out:
But when the pain cuts you deep
When the night keeps you from sleeping
Just look and you will see
That I will be your remedy
When the world seems so cruel
And your heart makes you feel like a fool
I promise you will see
That I will be, I will be your remedy
Nope, not from a Christian radio station. From the amazing Adele, in a song that had nothing to do Christ, those words fell on my heart and mind like a soothing balm. In that moment, I knew without a doubt it was God speaking to me. Reminding me in that moment, that He was the answer, He was the remedy to my questions.
There are other times though when the promptings are not quite as dramatic as a song or somebody speaking directly to to me but instead it’s a hunch that pops into my head out of no where.
Back in March I had such a prompting, a quiet nudge to reach out to a former mentor of mine. Our mentorship had been valuable, but it had been very emotional challenging too. Ultimately what this mentor had shared with me literally change the course of direction for my entire career. Their truth and wisdom is what ultimately led me to the place I am now. At the time, I couldn’t shake the prompting to reach out to just say thanks, but I would shake it off as something I’d get around to “later.” Five days later though, I saw through social media that my mentor had passed away after a short battle with lung cancer. It was heartbreaking to be completely honest because I missed my opportunity to say thanks. While I wallowed a bit in sadness, God once again reminded me that His promptings aren’t always for us. Sometimes, it’s because He wants us to speak for Him in real, tangible voices to the people around us.
Since March there have been countless times where I felt that nudging, an unexplained prompting, from God. As a patient and loving Father, I’m grateful that God keeps speaking to me, even when I don’t always listen. There was a moment when I got the sense to send a somewhat odd text to a friend. The text said “Do it. It’s going to be great. Women need it.” not having a clue what “it” was or what it meant. I honestly felt a bit like a wack-a-do (and even said that to her) but her response was exactly what I need to confirm it really was a God thing. She confirmed that was exactly what she needed to hear because she’d been wrestling with something all day, questioning whether it was prudent to move forward.
But for every time I’ve listened, there have been even more times when I didn’t. Like the time when I felt that familiar prompting to reach out to a friend, who I later discovered was going through a very traumatic loss. Or the time God told me to reach out to a friend on a day when she only later reveal she was struggling with a fit of anxiety and depression.
However, despite the many times that I fail to listen, God continues to speak. And I find the more I listen, the more I hear. I had never made listening for God a priority, but when I started earnestly praying to hear, I am more and more. God’s in the little moments that nudge me to text a friend to just say hey. Through the Holy Spirit, He’s the voice that hits me out of nowhere, and has me noticing someone in the store that needs a friendly smile. More days than not, it’s not big actions, but simple, small gestures that someone needs, and God is asking us to it.
It’s those times that I’m convince God is prompting us because the other person needs to hear from God, and He’s using us to be is His voice. How God speaks to us varies from person to person and what I experience may be vastly different than what you experience. Yet, when we open our hearts to God, you might be surprised to find just how much He is speaking, if we’d only listen.
With that, I want to challenge you this week with two simple action steps.
- If you’re not hearing from God, make it your prayer every day to ask the Lord to allow you to hear Him and to be able to pay attention in those moments. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you not ignore them or write them off as just some crazy thought. Because it’s those thoughts that aren’t random, but are really the Holy Spirit moving in you.
- This week, every time you get a nudge you act on it. If it’s a sense you need to reach out to someone, stop what you’re doing and do it. If it’s a sense that you need to pray for someone, do it. Whatever it is you feel like God is telling you to do or you feel like God is speaking to you act on it. And if it’s not something you can act on per se, write it down. Make a note of it, because it maybe something that God is trying to tell you in advance of what’s to come.
It’s really easy and this time of year to just get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life but when we slow ourselves down, when we tap into what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell us, you might be amazed at what you notice.
Let’s do that this week. Let’s connect with God and see what he’s trying to tell us, because YES, you really are hearing from God.