Hearing God's Voice
by Dianne E. Butts
Go visit Archie. The thought nagged me again. Since my
friend Archie's cancer advanced, I wanted to visit him. But I had
a full schedule. "Lord, if this is from You, I'll go," I prayed.
"But didn't You want me to do this job?" If I take time to visit
Archie, I wondered, am I listening to the right voice?
For me, it's a common dilemma. I hear a spiritual "voice" -
a quiet whisper in my mind, a heart-felt impression - and I
wonder if it's God. Could it be merely my own thoughts, or maybe
Satan trying to deceive me? I hear these spiritual voices often
and struggle to determine their source.
I am learning that just as audible voices have unique
qualities that help me recognize the speaker, so does God's
When I first felt the inkling to write for publication, I
ignored it. What could I write that anyone would want to read?
But the inkling persisted. "How can I tell if this is my idea or
God's?" I asked my friend Linda. "Our own desires come and go,"
she told me, "but God's desires for us persist."
God persistently called the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 3), but
Samuel didn't recognize God's voice either. When Samuel the young
lad awakened to Someone calling his name, he ran to his mentor,
Twice more the Lord called Samuel before Eli discerned its
source and instructed him to respond to the Lord. When God called
the fourth time, He really got Samuel's attention.
God's persistent calling didn't let Samuel rest. Likewise,
God persistently called me. When I turned on my radio and heard
about an upcoming Christian writer's conference, I responded.
That persistent inkling sparked a desire to write for God that,
years later, continues to burn.
"Have you ever felt a nudge to call or visit someone?" asked
Midge, a speaker at our ladles brunch. "Listen to the nudges.
I've felt those nudges from God, but I've also acted on
impulses only to discover they were not from God.
Most impulses appear as good things God might want me to do.
They often come in the form of "shoulds" and "oughts": "You
should teach a Bible class.... You ought to help at the pregnancy
center.... You should volunteer for Vacation Bible School."
Jesus and the disciples certainly felt the pressure of such
impulses. One day as Jesus taught beyond the Jordan, a message
arrived from Mary and Martha: Jesus come quickly! Lazarus is
"Yet ... [Jesus] stayed where He was two more days" (John
11:6). By the time He left for Bethany, Lazarus was dead (v.4).
Had Jesus jumped to save Lazarus, whose voice would He have
been listening to? Instead, Jesus calmly continued the work God
had sent Him across the Jordan to accomplish. Then He went to
Is that how our enemy takes advantage of notions - by:
pulling us away from God's work? As I learn to distinguish
between God's nudges and other impulses, I do less fruitless
busywork. As I prayerfully respond to God's impressions, my
efforts bear eternal fruit, and my life is calm.
God constantly calls us, but Satan speaks too and often
deceives the untaught. I Can distinguish between the enemy's
voice and God's by considering how the voice makes me feel and
where it will lead me.
Satan heaps disapproval, guilt, and accusations on us until
we feel fearful or want to run away from Christ. That might have
been how the adulterous woman felt when the religious leaders
brought her to Jesus. He ended up sending her away, free of
Satan's voice condemns: "You're guilty!" But as believers,
we no longer stand before God condemned (Romans 8:1). When we
listen to God's voice, He convicts us of our sin and leads us to
Christ for forgiveness.
My friend Sandy grew up in a home filled with shouting and
anger. "For a long time it was hard for me to differentiate God's
voice from familiar voices echoing from the past," she said.
"Whenever I had a disagreement or was criticized, those negative
voices would bombard me and linger in my head. I associated these
angry 'voices' with the voice of God.
"Now I know God better," she continued. "When I hear a
negative voice, I'm learning to ask, 'Is this voice
characteristic of the God I've come to know and love through
God's voice reveals His character, While He is holy
(Leviticus 11:44), righteous (Psalm 11:7), and just (9:16), He is
also merciful and forgiving (Daniel 9:9). He is compassionate,
gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness
When the voice within me sounds unloving, impatient, or
angry, when I feel no mercy or compassion, when it causes me to
mistrust God or believe He will not forgive me, then the voice I
am hearing is not God's.
Author and speaker Tricia Rhodes waited six years to hear
God's voice. "After our first child, my husband and I really
wanted another," she said at a conference. But the years passed
without a second child.
"I went to God every morning and I heard nothing. Then one
morning as I filled in the blanks of a Bible study, a still,
familiar voice spoke: 'Tricia, your pain is not caused by your
failure to have another child, but by what you've come to believe
about Me: that I'm not good or fair, that I don't love you or
have your best interest at heart.'
"I didn't miss His answer," Tricia said, "because after six
years of waiting, I was still listening."
If we are not listening, We can miss God's message or misun-
derstand it. Many people could have heard God's voice when Jesus
prayed, "Father, glorify your name!" John 12:28).
From heaven, a voice answered,: "I have glorified it, and
will glorify it again."
The apostle John heard and understood the words. But he also
tells us that some in the crowd thought it had thundered and that
others thought an angel had spoken (v.29). The people did not
recognize the voice of God.
God speaks clearly. But to hear Him and to recognize His
voice, we must be listening.
Learning to listen
Go visit Archie, that persistent voice urged again. So that
afternoon, I headed over to his house. We had a wonderful visit,
and I still accomplished all my work.
I'm convinced the urge to visit was from the Lord. I'm so
glad I listened! Step by step, the Lord is teaching me to be more
like Samuel in recognizing and responding to His voice.
Dianne E. Butts writes from Pueblo, CO. Scripture quotations are
from the New International version.
July-August 2007 "Bible Advocate" - a publication of the Church
of God, Seventh Day, Denver, CO. USA
I've learned over the years that to HEAR the voice of God, and
not my emotions or feeling or the voice of other people that are
not speaking through God's inspiration to me, I had to STUDY His
WORD, reading it from Genesis to Revelation, meditating upon it,
letting God's voice to me be understandable, getting to know His
character and mind. Then I've had to spend MUCH TIME ALONE with
God. I've had to put all other people aside, walk the wilderness
(a nice park, camping trip, horse ride or whatever) - be ALONE,
just God and myself. I've had to not only talk to Him, but be
SILENT and let His voice speak to me. I've had to be willing to
put aside whatever I needed to put aside to serve and obey Him,
to admit error, to love truth and righteousness. Then He can
reach me, teach me, talk to me.
If you do all the above, and always be humble, pliable clay in
His hands, loving Him and His word and way of life, with all your
heart, mind and life, then you will recognize the voice of God.
The prophets have told us that a man coming in the power of
Elijah, shall come and speak the words of the Lord before His
first coming and before His second coming. MOST did not know or
hear the voice of God speaking through John the Baptist, before
the first coming of the Lord Jesus. MOST will again not know or
hear the voice of God speaking to them through the Elijah to come
(to restore all things) before the Day of the Lord (Malachi 4
It is possible to HEAR and to KNOW God's voice is speaking to you
- Keith Hunt
Entered on this Website August 2007