(The following is an adapted selection taken from my ebook “7 Biblical Ways to Hear God’s Voice.” It’s available now as part of our course, Learning to Hear God’s Voice. Learning to hear God’s voice literally revolutionized my life, so I really enjoy being a part of others’ journeys to hear Him better as well!)
The Role of the Holy Spirit when Hearing from God
When Jesus was about to leave earth after his resurrection and go back to heaven, He told his disciples that it would be better for them once He was gone. Better than Jesus? YES! Why? Because even though Jesus was God, He was still limited to His body being in only one place at any given time. The Holy Spirit is not. The Holy Spirit is with us 100% of the time because He dwells within us. He is always ready to comfort, teach, direct, instruct, help, correct -whatever you need.
He loves to speak to us in that “still, small voice”. He gives wisdom when we ask for it just like He promised to in James 1:5. He gives discernment when we are unclear about what is really going on in a situation.(1) And He brings light into areas of darkness like He did for Daniel.(2)
I believe this is the most common way that we as Jesus-followers are meant to hear from God -through the Holy Spirit. We are A.D. -post-Christ’s initial coming. We are living in the age that comes after the curtain was torn. Jesus gave His life to restore us to right relationship with the Father. That is the whole point. We are now to come boldly before the throne and talk with our Daddy.
I spent my entire childhood hearing from God through both forms of His Word: logos and rhema. (I explain more about these in the course.) But it wasn’t until I learned that I could hear the voice of the Holy Spirit within my own being that my relationship with God began to grow to new levels of intimacy.
Ibelieve that this type close friendship through intimate communication was the original way that God wanted to relate to mankind. We see him speaking to Adam and Eve in the garden.
You can hear His heart cry in Scripture: Oh, that my people would listen to me! Oh that Israel would follow me.(3)
Many times in the Bible, we see people being led by the Holy Spirit in this way. In the Old Testament, only a select few were led personally by the Spirit of God. In the New Testament, our supreme model, Jesus, receives the Holy Spirit after being baptized and is then “led by the Holy Spirit into the desert”(4). Upon Jesus’ return to heaven, the Holy Spirit comes upon those gathered in the upper room and Joel’s prophecy is fulfilled: the Spirit is poured out upon all.(5) We can see that after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, the playing field is leveled. The curtain is torn in two; all who believe in Jesus can receive the Holy Spirit.
After 10 years in China, my husband and our two small children and I relocated to Cambodia. We gave away or sold almost everything we had and boarded a flight to Phnom Pehn. We were staying in cheap hotels, hoping and praying that God would open up a place for us to live. Nothing was coming. I was getting desperate.
Around day 14, I put our baby girl down for her nap and took some time to ask the Lord if there was any specific direction He had for us. All that came to mind was a name: Sophia. I could have written it off as some random thought, but I have learned along the way not to ignore that small voice. I googled, “Real estate agent Phnom Pehn Sophia” and a man’s name and listings popped up. Apparently, Sophia is a male’s name in Cambodia. Anyway, to make a long story short, we ended up renting a house through…you guessed it, Real Estate Agent Sophia (and the property exceeded my expectations!)
It’s hard to find the language for this type of leading because in our modern societies, we so rarely rely on our spirits (which are now indwelt by the Holy Spirit) to direct us. We have been educated in the Greek way of thinking which is to rely almost solely on our minds. Even though this type of leading by the Spirit is extremely common in the Bible, we find it hard to get past our own worldview. And many wise and well-meaning Christian teachers only serve to enforce these faulty thought patterns.
It will most likely feel strange at first. That is not because it is wrong but because it is new. Most likely you will make mistakes, but if you start out asking the Holy Spirit to guide you like this in small decisions, the consequences of hearing incorrectly shouldn’t be too grave.
If you are making bigger decisions, I would definitely recommend you ask the Lord for confirmation along the way as well as seek out wise counsel. Remember, we are His sheep and we hear His voice.(6) He wants to lead us more than we want to be led, so fear not!
(My course, Learning to Hear God’s Voice is available now for our readers. Learning to hear God’s voice literally revolutionized my life, so I really enjoy being a part of others’ journeys to hear Him better as well! Click here to learn more.)
(1) Hebrews 5:14 (2) Daniel 2:22 (3) Psalm 81:13 (4) Matthew 4:1 (5) Joel 2:28. Acts 2:17 (6) John 10