Monday, March 21, 2016

Three Factors for Distinguishing the Voice of God - A Month of Hearing God - Day 21

Downtown Monroe

I hear Linda's voice, and she hears mine, because we have spent countless hours over 42+ years of pre-marriage and marriage with one another. Only God knows my heart perfectly; Linda comes in second place.

To "hear" someone is more than being within audible range of their voice. Jesus once said that those who have ears, hear. By this he distinguished between mere physical hearing and true listening accompanied by understanding.

Today I expect to hear God speak to me. My understanding is that hearing God is normal for a Jesus-follower. If you are one of Jesus' "sheep," then you hear his voice.

Richard Foster writes: "Jesus made it clear that his sheep can hear and know his voice (Jn 10:11-15). The real question for us is, how? How do we come to discern the living voice of God? The answer is deceptively simple. We learn to discern the voice of God by experience." (Richard J. Foster, Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey into Meditative Prayer, Kindle Locations 548-549)

When it comes to hearing God there is no substitute for much time spent in God's presence.

What is needed to hear God's voice is: to be in relationship with God. To be "acquainted" with God. We then discover that "certain factors distinguish the voice of God, just as any human voice can be distinguished from another." (Foster, quoting Dallas Willard, in Ib., K 552) Dallas Willard cites three such factors.

1. The quality of the voice of God

Willard writes: "The quality of God's voice is more a matter of weight or impact an impression makes on our consciousness. A certain steady and calm force with which communications from God impact our soul, our innermost being, incline us toward assent and even toward compliance." (Ib., K 554-555)

There is a sense of real authority, a weightiness, in the voice of God.

I have found that spending time with God, day after day after day, month after month, year after year, has brought an increase in the ability to discern the quality of God's voice.

For this reason (and others) I send my students out to pray, an hour a day, day after day after day. As they do this the voice of God will become more recognizable to them.

2. The spirit of the voice of God

This spirit, says Willard, "is a spirit of exalted peacefulness and confidence, of joy, of sweet reasonableness and of goodwill. It is, in short, the spirit of Jesus." (Ib., K 557-558)

James 3:17 puts it this way: "the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."

3. The content of the voice of God

Willard writes: "The content of a word that is truly from God will always conform to and be consistent with the truths about God's nature and kingdom that are made clear in the Bible." (Ib., K 559-561)

God will never lead us contrary to what he has said or done in the past. Therefore understand the activity and voice of God in the past so as to be able to better hear his voice in the present. Practically, this means reading and meditating on Scripture during your alone times with God in prayer.


Abide in Christ
Saturate in Scripture
Listen for God's voice
Obey when he leads

Write down what God tells you in your journal. Your journal is a record of the acts of God and the voice of God in your life.