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Discerning the Voice of God – How to Recognize God’s Voice

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Learning to discern the voice of God is important as a Christian. To discern is to examine closely, test something, and be able to judge well. Biblically, it’s about being able to differentiate what is wrong versus what is right according to God’s word. You can only do this well if you have deep knowledge of the topic or area.

Discerning the voice of God is being able to hear clearly that something is from God, not from you, the enemy, or another person. As we spend intentional time in God’s presence through prayer, worship, Bible study, and fellowship, we will gain a deeper understanding of his teachings and principles and can discern if something is from him or not.

You can recognize the voice of your friend, child, or spouse because you know them, right? As a follower of Christ, he expects you to be able to discern His voice. But don’t worry because the Holy Spirit will help you through the process.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

John 10:27 ESV

woman on telephone attached to sky with text Discerning the voice of God: to how recognize God's voice

God is a good shepherd (John 10:11) who sacrifices for his sheep and leads us to the right paths in life. Hearing the Shepherd’s voice is a great blessing and gift that we should all desire and request as his sheep.

In these last days, there will be many false prophets and teachers of the Gospel so we need to discern what is from the Lord and what’s from the enemy.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

1 John 4:1 ESV

How does God speak to us?

The Lord speaks in many ways, and his voice guides us on the right track in life. We hear his voice through reading the word of God. Have you ever sat in church or listened to a sermon online, and what was preached was exactly what was going on in your life? That’s God’s voice.

When we seek for his voice we will find it in his word.  The more we are filled with the word, the more we will know if the thoughts we have are aligned with his word or not.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV

The Holy Spirit is a gift from God that we received when Jesus Christ went back to heaven. He lives within us and guides and directs our paths. His voice is in line with the word of God. He impresses things in our feelings, our physical senses, or our minds.

“But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

Hebrews 5:14 NKJV

God also speaks audibly. In Biblical times, we see instances when people hear the audible voice of the Lord directly. He spoke to Moses through an angel who appeared in the burning bush and to the young boy Samuel.  In the New Testament when Jesus was baptized, the Spirit of God descended like a dove, and a voice from heaven was heard. To Apostle Paul, he spoke on the road to Damascus

The Lord speaks to us in personal ways through circumstances, signs, and miracles. We have our own experiences and we can hear from God when we pay attention and are intentional about our relationship with him.

But in a busy world with so many demands, responsibilities, and obligations, we can struggle to find time to hear him. That’s why God sometimes allows difficult circumstances so we can slow down and seek him and his help. That’s the time he speaks and we listen.  The Lord also performs signs and miracles so that we can hear him.

Usually, his voice is a soft, still, small voice, and we need discernment to be able to hear and obey him.

“After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

1 Kings 19:12-13 NKJV

The Lord also speaks through dreams and visions. In Biblical times, he spoke to Joseph and King Solomon through dreams and to Daniel through a vision.

How to : Discerning the voice of God

How do you discern if what you’re hearing is God’s voice, the enemy’s voice, or your own thoughts? Our own thoughts are usually things that are just part of living as a human being, and they’re not good or evil. For example, thoughts like “I need to go and sleep,” “I’m going to the mall”, or “What can I buy my friend on her birthday?”. In times like this, you don’t need to discern if it’s the Lord’s voice.

It’s when we ask moral questions and are about to make life-changing decisions that we need to discern God’s voice. These are questions about what to say to others, how to treat others, which person to marry, or if you should take the job offer or move to another country or city.

We can discern God’s voice in prayer. One way we maintain daily communication with the Lord is through praying. It’s important to remember that prayer is not just for immediate assistance in difficult times, we need constant use of prayer to empower us daily.

When we are in the presence of God in prayer, we should speak and also be silent and intentionally give him room to speak. He puts some thoughts, impressions, and ideas in our minds. It may not be a loud audible voice but a gentle whisper. And everything he says will be aligned to his word.

When God asked King Solomon what he could give him, he asked for discernment. He could have asked for riches or honor or power, but he knew that when you have discernment, you can make wise decisions in your everyday life. You can prayerfully ask the Lord to help you discern his voice.

“Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”

1 Kings 3:9 NKJV

The gift of discernment is given by the Holy Spirit, and it’s something we should desire and ask of the Lord (James 1:5).

God’s voice will never contradict scripture. So when your thoughts are not consistent with his word, it’s not from him. That’s why we need to be filled with more of God’s word and have a more intimate relationship with him so that we can hear him. You don’t need to know how the enemy sounds; just know the spirit of truth from the Bible and discern God’s voice.

The voice of the true God is consistent with his character. He loves, guides, comforts, encourages, directs, unifies, frees and helps us. His voice gives us clarity and places us on the right track in life. So if the thoughts you have lead to worry, confusion, division, doubting yourself, anger, guilt, and fear, they’re from the enemy and not from God. When we hear his voice, we experience abundant life, and the peace of God comes over us.

We can discern the voice of our Heavenly Father in godly counsel. God’s plan is not for us to live isolated and alone as Christians but in community with others. Spiritual mentors and other people that we fellowship with can strengthen, encourage, and help us grow in our faith. Having mentors who give you wise counsel that’s aligned with the word of God is a great way to discern the voice of God.

God only speaks when we are obedient and willing to listen. When we continually choose to live in sin, pleasing our own desires, running in the opposite direction of what his word tells us to do, and are disobedient, we will not hear what he is saying. It’s only when you live a righteous life, in humble obedience to the Lord in your everyday life that you’ll be able to discern his voice.

When your mind is transformed by the word of God, you can discern the will of God by hearing his voice. It then becomes easier to obey his commands.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Romans 12:2 NIV

vintage black phone with line hanging from the sky. Conceptual photography talking to someone from above for the post on discerning the voice of God

The deeper our relationship with the Lord, the more we can discern between good and evil. This enables us to make wise decisions in line with God’s will. 

Another way to discern God’s voice is to be intentional and take our time. When you’re planning to make a big decision, such as marriage or remarriage, relocation, or changing careers, don’t rush. Take time to seek counsel from mentors, pray, and listen to the Holy Spirit. He will give you wisdom and guide you on the right path.

To learn about the topic of Discerning the Voice of God, this book from Priscilla Shirer is worth investing in.

Discerning the Voice of God – How to Recognize When God Speaks by Priscilla Shirer.

This is what we learn about one of her famous Bible studies, Discerning the Voice of God.

“Do you feel that the ability to hear God’s voice is for other people and not for you? Is it only for people who lived in Biblical times? Not at all! The God who loved you enough to die for you loves you enough to talk to you. And wherever you are in your spiritual walk, God will find a way to speak to you in a way you will understand.

Become acquainted with the Voice that has spoken from a fire and a cloud, with visible signs and an invisible Spirit, through a burning bush and burning hearts. Hear from some of the most well-known Christians in history about how God speaks to them. Discover for yourself how you can discern the voice of God.”

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The Key Benefits of this book are:

  • Challenge yourself in the discipline of daily Bible study.
  • Gain practical advice for knowing and understanding God’s voice through His Word.
  • Learn to recognize the Holy Spirit’s character, language, and tone of voice.
  • Experience a deeper relationship with God, and strengthen your daily walk with Him.
  • Reflection questions and exercises to equip you with post-study

The author of this Book is Priscilla Shirer. This is her Biography:

Priscilla Shirer is an American author, motivational speaker, actress, Christian evangelist, and internationally-recognized Bible teacher who focuses her ministry on the expository teaching of the Word of God to women (critically interpreting straight from Scripture). She has accepted God’s call to share his message with others. Her father is the well-known Pastor, author, and speaker, Dr. Tony Evans.

She earned a Master’s degree in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. Her own desire is to see God’s beloved people not only know the uncompromising truths of Scripture intellectually but experience them practically through the power of the Holy Spirit. She is also an accomplished vocalist who was born in Dallas, Texas, where she resides with her husband and three sons.

Priscilla participates in many church and para-church conferences and live events across the globe each year. She and her husband, Jerry, are the founders of Going Beyond Ministries. Through this ministry, she has the greatest privilege of serving believers from every denomination and culture of the church. She appeared in the movies War Room and Overcomer.

She is a New York Times Best-Seller and the author of many books. She is the author of A Jewel in His Crown, The Prince Warrior series (with Gina Detwiler), Fervent, and Awaken. Priscilla is also the author of Best-selling Bible Studies such as The Armor of God and Elijah: Faith and Fire.

You may also enjoy this brief video on discerning the voice of God by Priscilla Shirer.

ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

NKJV – Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

NIV – Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

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Sunday 17th of December 2023

Thank you for the Priscilla Shirer video. On topic for me (Discerning the Voice of God). I love to learn about my Lord and King. Your personality caught my attention when looking for more spiritual reading material. I am looking forward to learning more about what your site has to offer.

Susan Nelson

Sunday 24th of December 2023

I'm so glad that the post helped you. God bless you and thank you for stopping by!

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