“God is not silent. It is the nature of God to speak,” writes A. W. Tozer, and it’s true. God’s relationship with human beings in the pages of Scripture and throughout history, as well as the very existence of the Bible, gives ample evidence that God guides, instructs, corrects, inspires, encourages, reveals, and more. Inspired writers even call Him “the Word.” He has always been vocal, and He always will be.
Not everyone believes this. I recently heard a very prominent pastor scoffing at Christians who “think they can actually hear God directly.” Of course, this pastor’s perspective is nothing new.
We hear it all the time from skeptics and cynics. A comedian once quipped that it doesn’t bother him at all when people say they talk to God; it’s when they claim God talks to them that he gets worried. Or, in the more direct words of Lily Tomlin, “Why is it when we talk to God, we’re said to be praying, but when God talks to us, we’re schizophrenic?”
That’s a good question, especially for Christians, whose entire faith is based on the truth that God wants a personal relationship with His people. We have to ask ourselves what kind of relationship He wants. One without conversation? Surely not. That would hardly be a relationship. No, God speaks, and His people listen. That’s what following Him is all about.
Though many in the Western church insist that God doesn’t speak to us today—because our hearing is too subjective, or because He has already said everything He has to say in the Bible, or because of any other objection not found in the Bible itself—Christians in less rigidly analytical and skeptical cultures are hearing Him daily and doing mighty works in the power of His Spirit, simply by following what they hear.
We can find plenty of abuses and stories of people who misheard God, but there are far more testimonies of people hearing Him clearly and bearing much fruit from what they have heard.
Anyone can learn to recognize God’s voice—adults and children, the highly educated and the illiterate, leaders and followers, and any other category of hearer we can think of. God doesn’t mind the skeptics. He simply speaks to people who will listen and believe.
What does He say? How does He say it? How can we know when we’ve heard Him? What can we do to hear Him better? These are some of the questions this devotional will explore.
We could spend the rest of our lives learning how to recognize God’s voice, and most of us likely will. But we can be confident that if we seek Him, He will make Himself available to us. If we listen, He will speak. And if we believe what we have heard, He will show us more.
The God who speaks is always seeking to take us deeper into His will and draw us closer to Himself.
This book won’t give you a step-by-step system for hearing God’s voice. There’s no such thing, although there are patterns and practices you can adopt to position yourself to hear Him better. But even if you don’t learn any surefire “how to” principles here, simply turning your attention to hearing will stir up God’s voice within you.
Over the course of a year, you’ll start knowing what He’s saying intuitively, even if you don’t know how you know. Those who hunger for Him will be satisfied. There are 365 devotional readings in this book, and they cover many issues related to hearing God.
One devotion each week is based on a story or a postbiblical example, some from Christian history and some from my own experience and acquaintances. Another is a “first person” devotional from the heart of God—things I have heard Him say and that I believe He wants to share with others who are listening.
Each devotion ends with a brief prayer. Some people (like me) tend to skip over guided prayers in books, but I would encourage you not to do that here.