There seems to be a huge stereotype about the way that God speaks to us. Many times, we think back to the conversion of Saul (who became Paul) who heard God’s voice booming through the clouds above him asking “Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Other times, we are literally waiting for God to whisper something into our ears, hearing His voice whenever we feel conflicted and need answers. Now, I’m not going to say that literally hearing His voice is impossible. In fact, I know people who claim that they have heard it and that’s how they got to be where they are today.
But, it’s also dangerous to be so caught up in those ideas that we fail to hear God around us. In fact, we are so often waiting for those types of moments that we miss out on the ways that God is speaking to us.
How can we fix this? First, know that learning how to recognize God’s voice isn’t something that happens overnight, especially when we have been fixated on a certain idea for such a long time. Second, even if we learn how He speaks to us, it’s so easy to get caught up in everyday life that we can easily miss it.
It takes time and it takes an open heart and an open mind.
But it can be done.
Here are 5 ways in which we can hear God’s voice.
1. A gut instinct:
Sometimes we just have a “feeling” to do something and we don’t know why. It could be to walk away from someone/ a situation, to pray for someone, or that you feel like something is about to happen and you are going to need to help that person out. One of the most recent experiences of this that I can think of was about four months ago. I was at a conference and had the wonderful opportunity to meet Hallie Lord and get her book “On the Other Side of Fear: How I Found Peace” signed. While I was in line, I felt the need to get a copy for a good priest-friend of mine. I didn’t understand why, but I knew to just go with it. So I did, and the following Monday morning, took a trip to the UPS store and sent it to him, signed by Hallie and with a note from me explaining why I sent it to him. About a week later, I got a text from him basically telling me that my gut instinct was right and that he was finding the book to be full of wisdom. That moment affirmed in my heart that God really goes speak to us through our “gut instinct”. Listen to it. Follow it. It’s God speaking to you.
2. The sounds of the world around us:
Even if we aren’t looking for an answer, we still may experience times in which we do not feel God’s presence. We would love to have that “complete feeling” that we have after we receive Christ in the Eucharist, or encounter Him in the confessional. But there are the times in which that warm, loving, joyful, and peaceful feeling in our heart is absent. If you struggle with this (and honestly, who doesn’t?), try looking at the world around you. Sure, there are many things about this world that are far from pretty. But there are also wonderful things that are part of God’s creation. That rainbow in the sky after a storm, the sound of birds chirping, a child laughing, the ocean waves crashing on the shoreline, and the sun shining down on us, helping to give us light and life. Look at all of the beautiful things and remember that God is the Creator. Even just learning how the world works, all of the complex systems that are a part of it emphasizes God’s greatness. In seeing what we can do, we can only just begin to grasp all that He is.
3. Actions between other people:
It is said in Les Miserables, “To love another person is to see the face of God,” and when we see people love and be kind to one another, we see God radiating through that person. God is love, so all true acts of love is a reflection of God. Even if the person doing the act doesn’t see it, I have no doubt that God is working through that person.
This one should be a given, right? But think about it… how much motivation to pray do we really have when we do not feel the presence of God? Sometimes when we feel like we have hit rock bottom we do. But other than that… on a day that just feels ordinary? It doesn’t always happen. But remember this: sometimes God is just waiting for us to reach out to Him in order for Him to speak to us. Or, maybe we need to try a specific type of prayer, the kind when we are listening more than talking. Prayer is a conversation with God, but it doesn’t mean that we are always the ones speaking. In fact, how can we hear God when we don’t give Him the opportunity to talk? When we are so caught up with what we have to say to Him that we don’t listen to what He has to say to us? That’s not to say that we should NEVER tell God what we are going through. We should, and He wants us to. However, He also wants us to give Him our attention and when we do, we may just hear Him in the silence of our hearts. Also, try going to Adoration. Being with Him in His physical presence…what else can beat that?!
One of my absolute favorite ways to pray is Lectio Divina. Basically, it’s reading scripture, intercepting it, meditating over it, and praying with it. Let me tell you, it’s pretty powerful! Even if you’ve read the same passage 20 times, God has the ability to point something out to you that you never realized before. You are reading His word after all. Read it even when it isn’t Sunday and let Him speak to you. And remember… it may not be that He is silent… it could be that we are not listening.
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