There are several ways that we can hear the voice of God. He may speak to us by means of Scripture, dreams, visions, nature or through His still small voice. Although there are several ways that God speaks to mankind we first must listen, not just with our ears, we must also be ready to receive His words in our heart.
Moreover he said to me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears. Ezekiel 3:10
Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart. Job 22:22
It is not simply enough to hear the Word of God; His instructions must be received whole-heartedly and obeyed.
To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it. Jeremiah 6:10
The great prophet Jeremiah lived during the most crucial period of Judah’s existence as a kingdom. He had incessantly warned his people to turn from their sins before it was too late. Although the LORD spoke to the people of the Southern Kingdom through His prophet, their hearts were hardened so that they did not heed the warnings. Because they failed to listen to the LORD, Jerusalem and the holy Temple were destroyed and the survivors were taken captive into Babylon.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:22
The primary way that a born-again believer hears God is through the Bible – God’s Holy Word. Through Scripture, God speaks both to the individual and to the body of Christ. But again, it is not enough to be exposed to the divinely inspired written word; a person must receive the message in his heart (a person must have a listening ear).
“Indeed God speaks once, or twice, yet no one notices it. In a dream, a vision of the night, when sound sleep falls on men, while they slumber in their beds…” Job 33:15-16
There are several biblical accounts that record that God has spoken to mankind through dreams or visions. A dream is a succession of images, thoughts, or emotions passing through the mind during sleep. On the other hand, a vision portrays scenery or dramatic circumstances to the human recipient while the human is awake.
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” Acts 2:17
The “last days” began at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out in power. The “last days” continue until the return of the Lord. Today, God still speaks through dreams and visions.
Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”1 Kings 19:11-13
In Exodus 20:18-19, the people of Israel trembled with fear when they saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw Mount Sinai in smoke. They cried out to Moses, “Do not have God speak to us or we will die”
Although the voice of the Almighty is like the noise of many waters (Ezekiel 1:24), He often chooses to speak to us with a still small voice. Again, we must be attentive and listen for His still small voice as we receive it in our hearts.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-4
God also speaks to us through His creation, and He does so without using audible words. When we look up into the sky in the daytime and see the beauty of a sunrise, or on a clear evening when we contemplate the vastness of outer space, God speaks to us of His glory and power.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:20-21
The heavens and the earth speak of God’s glory. He has given all people a revelation of His eternal power and nature, but those who are not ready to receive His message with a humble heart cannot hear His voice.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.” Revelation 3:6-8
If you are willing not only to hear, but to listen and receive, the Spirit tells God’s people that we can hear the voice of God through the circumstances of life. There will be times that we may discern God’s will because of an opened or a closed door. The will of God will never contradict the word of God or His character. An opened or a closed door must be evaluated in the light of God’s character and according to the “plumb line” of Scripture. We usually desire an opened door because it often means opportunity, progress and/or promotion. But is it God’s will? What appears to be an “opened door” needs to be confirmed according to God’s word and character. We need to seek God in prayer and have an inner peace to help us confirm the circumstance as God’s will for us. We are often frustrated or disappointed when we encounter a “closed door.” A closed door is for our good. The door may be closed so that we must wait upon the Lord in order to develop patience and build our faith. A door may be closed because God wants to take us in a different and better direction or a closed door may result in more fervent prayer and closer communion with God.
Whether God is speaking to you through His Word, a dream or vision, with a still small voice, through natural revelation or circumstances, you must be prepared to listen with a heart ready to receive and obey His voice.