“How do you know you are hearing from God?” The question permeated the room as one hundred pairs of eyes stared at me, waiting for an answer.
You just know, was the thought that came to mind. But I knew that kind of vague response would not do.
How do I know I’m hearing from God? The question begged an answer I wasn’t sure I could describe. After all, how do I explain what I experience when I receive revelation and know in the core of my being it’s God?
Perhaps you feel the same way and question whether you are hearing God. And if you are hearing, how can you know it’s His voice and not your own?
Whether we’re new to our Christian faith or we’ve been walking with God for years, this question seems to pierce the heart of every believer: How do I discern the voice of God?
There is no formula for hearing God’s voice or knowing if it’s God speaking. Hearing and discerning God’s voice comes by practicing His presence and tuning your ear to His heart.
God’s voice may not always be obvious, and He doesn’t always use words. But when He speaks, He reveals His heart, ways, thoughts, character, and plans.
There are many ways we can know we are hearing from God, so we need to be open and stay alert to whatever way God decides to communicate. We can know God is speaking when His Spirit makes His presence known or when an answer to a question pops into our mind with a solution to a problem we couldn’t fix. Or when revelation pierces our heart, or we are moved to take action. But here are what I would say are the three most common ways to know we are hearing from God.
1. Peace Rules in Your Heart
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace” (John 16:33).
When God speaks to our hearts, He gives us a deep sense of internal peace to confirm the message is from Him. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
In this life, we will have trouble, but if peace is ruling in our hearts, conquering all fear, worry, and anxiety about a situation, we can know we are hearing from God.
2. God’s Word Becomes a Neon Highlighter
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
I get excited about God’s Word. I get even more excited when His Word leaps off the page. You know the moment when Scripture suddenly turns to neon, lifts off the page, and strangles you. Then, as you go throughout your day, that same Scripture seems to follow you as it pops up in totally unrelated places.
God is relational. If you ask, expect Him to answer. And if His Word leaps off the page, you know you are hearing from God.
3. When God Repeats Himself
“So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have” (2 Peter 1:12).
My first discipleship teacher would say, “When you hear the Lord repeating himself, stand up and take notice because He is trying to tell you something.”
Is there a recurring theme in your life or in your alone time with God? If so, pay attention. He is trying to tell you something.
When God wanted to give an important message to Pharaoh, God sent him the same dream twice (Genesis 41:32). When God wanted to speak to Samuel, He woke him up three times (1 Samuel 3). When Jesus wanted to encourage Peter and tell him about his calling, Jesus asked Peter the same question three times (John 21:15–17). If you hear the Lord repeating himself, don’t take His repetition as a rebuke. Instead, take it as a sign of His great care for you.
How can we know we are hearing from God? It doesn’t have to be a mystery. There are many ways we can know God is speaking. God’s voice surrounds us, communicating to our spirit the longings of His heart, filling us with satisfaction, and revealing His life and love. There is no formula we need to follow. To hear, we only need to tune our hearts inward to His Spirit, be still, and listen.