How can I hear God’s voice?

Day two of the Laura Boland bonanza.

There is no formula or list of rules to follow in order to hear from God, so take these only as practical suggestions I have found helpful.

-Check your heart. Why do you want to hear from God? Are you willing to listen even when it’s difficult? If you are looking for God to tick off your shopping list-throw it away! Let Him write you a new set of dreams.

-Since real listening requires full concentration, it helps to be in a place with as few distractions as possible. Go to a quiet place (not easy I realise when you live in halls but go with it); turn off your phone and any music if you find it makes your mind wander. (It’s amazing how rarely we are completely unplugged!) Keep a notebook handy in case you suddenly remember that you urgently need to Google ‘Justin Bieber how old?’

-Be intentional about it. We can’t expect to hear God clearly if our lives are a blur of busyness, as we rush from bus to tube to lecture to meetings. God is often speaking, but are we taking the time to listen? It’s amazing how we can hear from God when we stop and ‘smell the roses’. Someone once challenged me to give God 5 minutes of uninterrupted airtime each day. I couldn’t believe how much I suddenly had to say, but gradually I became more able to listen. Listening is never effortless but it becomes easier with practice (I’ve heard) (boom-boom).

-God speaks in a variety of ways: through the Bible (most common!), an audible voice (least common!), people, books, music, experiences, natural and supernatural means, the list goes on…

-Say a simple prayer as you listen to God in different situations, perhaps following the example of Samuel, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening”. (Samuel 3:7-11) It might help to keep a journal of anything you feel God is saying to you.

-As strange as it sounds-be careful what you ask for! Are you willing to act if God speaks? Think of all the things He has already said to you…

Despite all possible distractions, God can and does still make Himself heard. He may speak to us when we least expect it, and He is not limited to the times we choose to listen. Think bus journeys, in a lecture, in the shower, down at Sainsbury’s. I think God speaks to me through my dreams mostly because it’s the only time I can’t answer back! (See Job 33:14)

Don’t be under any illusions about my ability to hear from God after reading this list, I need to follow my own suggestions and I’d love to hear anything you have to add.

Are there any other ways God has spoken to you? What do you find helpful for placing yourself in a position to listen?

(If you want to read more, I would recommend “Surprised by the Voice of God” by Jack Deere. If you’re at Goldsmiths you can borrow my copy!)

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