Upon returning from vacation as a teenager my family learned that the church where my father was pastor had voted him out. Furthermore, this meant they had voted us (i.e., my father Jim , mother Faye, brothers Charlie and David and sister Marcile) out of the parsonage with two weeks to find a place to live. Unfortunately, we had learned too late that this particular church had a habit of "running off" pastors since their proximity to a Bible College provided plenty of gullible replacements! A rather unpleasant experience for a church with "Pleasant" in its name!
Fortunately, a kind woman allowed us to move into a house above an abandoned country store she owned (yes, we lived in a store-house!) (Philippians 4:19). There my older brother Charlie and I picked the long yet narrow front room to be our shared bedroom. Unfortunately, this room was only a few yards (meters) from a bustling two lane main highway in the country frequented by tractor trailers traveling at high speed. You could hear and feel the large trucks as they passed by on the way to their destinations! Also, there was a busy train track approximately 100 yards (~91.44 meters) behind this house. Consequently, sleeping was tough for the first few weeks! However, I noticed that after three to four weeks I no longer heard the trains or traffic on the highway. I learned a fundamental life principle in that store-house: if we do not intentionally focus and react to people or things we eventually stop noticing them!
I believe the same has happened to many of us concerning hearing God. Very likely we were never trained to hear God or even taught that it was possible. Funny how many people have said over the years... "something" told me not to do that or to do this... and when they did not listen things turned out badly or if they did listen they avoided tragedy. Well, that "something" was likely God talking to you and to that end, I offer the following brief outline of how to intentionally hear from God.
The fundamentals of intentionally hearing from God:
A. Choose to Hear God (Matthew 11:15. Proverbs 20:12. 1 Kings 19:11,12. John 10:3,16,27).
1. Practice His Presence:
(b) React in obedience immediately upon hearing God’s voice (Luke 6:46-49. James 1:23-25. 1 Samuel 3:4-10). Remember, you will "train" your senses to NOT notice what you do NOT react to over time.
If you are not sure that it is God that is speaking to you, then ask (1) Him to provide two or three scripture verses that will confirm His message (2 Corinthians 13:1). Do not worry as it is His pleasure to confirm everything with His Word! (Hebrews 6:17) Remember, God never, never, never does or asks you to do anything contrary to His Word (i.e., the Bible). Furthermore, God does not and cannot lie.... ever! (Titus 1:2. Hebrews 6:18)
Unfortunately, Satan also will use scripture in an attempt to deceive (Matthew 4:5-7). However, he will typically use scripture out of context that elicits a fear response (2 Timothy 1:7) and not like God who uses several verses that harmonize and result in bringing peace to a situation (James 3:17,18).
(d) Realize, there are three primary communication sources (1) in the realm of the spirit:
1) God (Father, Son or Holy Spirit) or His angels (1) (John 8:47. John 10:27. Acts 13:2. Luke 1:28-31)
3) The voice of your own spirit (1) (i.e., your conscience) (Romans 9:1).
Furthermore, realize you can only trust your conscience if you are born again (1) AND are continually renewing your mind (1) to the Word of God (John 3:3. Romans 12:2). If you are not born again or if you are not continuously renewing your mind to the Word of God then you will likely be mislead or fooled by your conscience (Jeremiah 17:9. Proverbs 16:25. Jeremiah 10:23).
2. Become hungry to hear from God:
Become hungry to hear God (1) by refusing to allow the substitutes, that are good for confirmation of God's will for your life, to become your primary or only means of hearing from God (Psalms 42:1-2). For example:
(a) Christian books or blogs.
(b) Christian broadcasts.
(c) Christian services or workshops.
(d) Christian counselors, pastors, teachers, friends, etc.
B. Purify your Heart
1. Our hearts must be cleansed (1) of evil by obedience to God so that our conscience will become a reliable source of hearing from God: (James 4:8. 1 Peter 1:22. Proverbs 23:7. Matthew 5:8. Matthew 6:21. 2 Chronicles 16:9. Jeremiah 29:13. Psalms 51:10. Ezekiel 36:26).
2. We must have our heart and ears circumcised even from good (1) so that we can have His best (Acts 7:51. Acts 28:26-27. Luke 6:45. John 11:49-53. Romans 2:29).
C. Additional Resources
For additional study of this topic I unreservedly recommend the books Hearing God by Peter Lord (2) and Practicing His Presence by Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach (3).
Remember, hearing God is a journey and not merely a destination. There will be times when you hear Him clearly (Isaiah 48:17. Isaiah 30:21), and other times you will have to seek Him to hear from Him (Acts 17:27). This journey of communicating with God will not necessarily be easy, but it will be worth it! (4)
(1) Left click on the underlined phrase to open another article in a different tab with more explanation.
(2) Hearing God, Peter Lord, ISBN-13: 978-0801056505
(3) Practicing His Presence, Brother Lawrence, Frank Laubach, ISBN-13: 978-0940232013
(4) See also: Seeds of the Kingdom Daily Devotional, Hearing the Voice of God, February 2, 2015, by Jill Southern-Jones