Do you know how to discern the voice of God? How to differentiate between His voice and your thoughts and inner voice? Sometimes when we are eager to hear from the Lord for direction in our lives, and we’re presented with a solution, we assume it’s of the Lord and act on it. But, how can you know for sure it is God speaking to you, telling you what to do, and not some other voice telling you what you want to hear to satisfy your wants and desires?
“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, this is the way, walk ye in it. When ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.”Isaiah 30:21
Discerning the voice of God is only possible if you have a relationship with Him. You must cultivate an intimate relationship with the Lord and live in His will. Also, you must have faith and believe in Him and become more knowledgeable about Him to get to know and understand Him. Then you’ll be able to discern the voice of God in your life guiding and directing your paths.
“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go. I will guide thee with mine eye.”Psalm 32:8
My Sheep Hear My Voice and They Follow Me
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But, he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth, and the sheep hear his voice. And he calleth his own sheep by name and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him, for they know not the voice of strangers. My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me.”John 10:1-5;27
Jesus calls us His sheep and Himself, our Shepherd. So, we know the role of a shepherd is to lead and direct the sheep wherever He wants them to go. And they obey and follow Him because they know He knows what’s best for them. He leads them to green pastures when they’re hungry and to water when they are thirsty; and leads them to rest when they need to. So, He provides for them in their times of need.
Importantly, as this is a daily routine, the shepherd spends intimate time with His sheep. He gets to know them individually, and them Him. They learn about His personality, mannerisms, temperament, and tone of voice etc. And, even if they haven’t seen Him, and He calls to them, they still know instinctively that it’s His voice and they follow Him.
The key to this interaction and response is a relationship. The shepherd and his sheep have a relationship with each other. This is the only way the sheep can know His shepherd’s voice clearly, and why they are always ready to follow him. And, they trust Him because he never leads them astray or leaves them wanting for anything.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, He leadeth me beside the still waters, He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”Psalm 23:1-3
Christians’ relationship with Christ is intended to be the same concept as the sheep’s relationship with their shepherd described above. We were created to depend on God for everything and to follow Him and obey His voice. But, the only way for us to become a follower is to accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour and cultivate a relationship with Him. We must be able to know Him intimately and gain more knowledge and understanding about Him, and learn His ways and His mind. Then, we’ll be able to hear His voice speaking to us. And, by faith, we’ll be able to respond.
Consequently, the same way the shepherd takes care of His flock is the same way God will take care of His people. And because we are made in His own image and likeness, He will provide even more for us. But, we must have faith in Him and believe that if we continue to follow Him and obey His voice, He’ll always provide for us and never leave us wanting anything.
Below, I have outlined four ways to discern the voice of God. I have personally discerned God’s voice speaking to me through these ways. But, the key, of course, is to have a relationship with Him, so that His Holy Spirit can reside within you and give you discernment.
Discern the Voice of God Through His Anointing
“But, the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you and ye need not that any man teach you. But, as the same anointing teacheth you of all things and is truth and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.”
When the anointing of God is upon your life, you are connected with Him spiritually. The Holy Ghost abides in you and takes control of your life. The anointing teaches you only truths and shows you the lies of the enemy. So, there would be no room for doubts or confusion when you hear His voice.
“Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth. For, He shall not speak of Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall he speak. And he will shew you things to come.”John 16:13
Likewise, when you live under the anointing of God and you yield yourself to the Holy Spirit, He will control your thoughts and emotions. He will make you do only righteous things that you won’t do in your natural state or in your flesh. He will prompt you to forgive your enemies and love others as He has commanded. The anointing enables you to clearly discern the voice of God and how He’s operating in your life.
“But, the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him. Neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But, he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But, we have the mind of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 2:14-16
Furthermore, to discern the voice of God, you must be spiritually connected with the Lord. If you’re living in the natural, fulfilling the lust of the flesh and selfish desires, you cannot discern the voice of God. The natural cannot respond to the spiritual, they are contrary to each other. Therefore, you won’t be able to judge things according to the Word because you are not aligned with His Word. You do not have the mind of Christ to be able to judge contrary spirits when you encounter them.
Discern the Voice of God Through Scripture
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”2 Timothy 3:16
Have you ever had times when you are going through some trying time in your life and you just need a bible verse to encourage you and help you get through it? Then, you set down to read the Word and open the Bible to an exact scripture that speaks to your situation? Well, that’s God speaking to you through scripture. This is how we can discern the voice of God through scripture.
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they we moved by the Holy Ghost.”2 Peter 1:20-21
Finding discernment of God’s voice through scripture is a blessing because the very words of the Bible are inspired by anointed and holy men of God. Some of whom walked with Jesus, in the new testament; others, like prophets in the old testament whom the Lord spoke through to His people. This is why the Word (Bible) is so powerful because it was inspired by God; and in it, is everything He wants us to know and abide by for spiritual nourishment and uplift, and encouragement in our Christian journey. God speaks to us directly by His Word, the Bible.
Discern the Voice of God Through Prayer
Many times while praying, I was able to discern the voice of God. When you’re consecrated and have yielded to the Holy Spirit and go to Him in prayer, earnestly, you will undoubtedly hear from Him. It may not be during a particular prayer session when you want, but if you keep yourself consecrated and prayed up, you will hear from Him when you least expect it.
Discern the Voice of God Through Preachers
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed. And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent? As it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!”Romans 10:14-15
God called holy men and sent them to “preach the gospel of peace…” True, Holy Ghost-filled Preachers operate under the anointing and direction of the Holy Spirit to bring God’s message and interpret the Word to His people. During a sermon, the Pastor may read scripture and explain it, and that very same scripture could be the answer to your prayers, or solution to your problem. And, this is how we can discern the voice of God through preachers.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God. Because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”1 John 4:1
Having said that, we should never just believe that because a person calls themself a preacher, pastor, bishop etc., they were sent by God. It is incumbent upon Christians to try these spirits to see if they are indeed anointed people of God. This is especially true of today’s spiritual leaders, many of them only create ministries to gain a source of high income, and are in the 1% of society. Do these Pastors sound like they were sent by God, living the high life with private jets, fancy cars and mansions, while their congregants struggle to make ends meet?
Unfortunately, their congregants do not try their spirits and are blindly following them, instead of following God. Those same congregants only go according to the scripture, “touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm.” But, ignore the verse above which states “try every spirit whether they are of God.” If these types of “Pastors” are not tried by their spirits, then how can the congregants tell they were sent by God? And, by what standards are they judging their actions and behaviours?
Ask yourself these questions: is this the lifestyle that Jesus would live today? Would He approve of this lifestyle these Pastors are living? No one says Pastors have to live poorly; but, they sure don’t need multiple fancy cars and private jets, do they? How are they glorifying God with these things? What’s the difference between these Pastors and the other 1 percenters? Well, I submit that Pastors go to church every week and preach sermons. Other than that, their lifestyles, dress attires, attitudes and behaviours are the same as non-Christians. They don’t have the anointing or Holy Spirit leading and guiding them to lead and encourage God’s people. This has been an observation of mine lately.
For these reasons, it’s important for Christians to read the Word themselves to ensure what their Pastors preach lines up with the Word. Unfortunately, many Christians today do not read the Word themselves to gain more knowledge or a better understanding of Him to try contrary spirits. Instead, they rely solely on their Pastors to interpret the Word for them.
It is important to note, that Christians have a responsibility to establish their own personal relationship with the Lord, independent of our Pastors. And, we need Him to interpret the Word for us when we don’t understand our Pastors’ interpretation of the Word. The Apostle James (James 1:5) encourages us to ask God for wisdom if we need it; with wisdom, comes knowledge and understanding of God.
To that end, to discern the voice of God, you must first have a relationship with Him. Then, through the Holy Spirit residing in you, you will be able to differentiate between God’s voice and other voices speaking to you. To judge whose voice is God’s, the spirit of truth and righteousness will instruct you, and you’ll know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s the voice of God.