Samuel was a young boy serving under Eli, the high priest at the time. Samuel heard a voice calling out his name, while he was lying down. He immediately went to Eli and said, “Here I am, you called me.” Eli told Samuel that he did not speak to him and Samuel lied down again. This happened three times. After the third instance, Eli realized that God was speaking to the young boy. He said, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you , say, 'Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.'” Samuel obeyed, and this time, when the Lord spoke his name, Samuel replied as Eli instructed.
The Lord then revealed to him a word of judgment toward Eli, which included specific consequences that were to take place in the future. The Lord was angry with Eli for not restraining his unruly and wicked sons. Although Samuel was hesitant to relay the message to Eli, the high priest insisted that he recount the entire prophetic word to him. The pronouncement later came to pass and Samuel grew to be a great man of God.
In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon a few select people. God primarily anointed kings, prophets, and priests for service. In the New Testament, each born again believer has the Holy Spirit living in him or her, and each of us can hear His voice. As a young believer, I desired greatly to hear the voice of the Lord. It took time and effort to discern His voice in my life. I often made mistakes along the journey. Over time, and with the help of solid Biblical instruction, I discovered a few things about hearing from God....
- God usually speaks in ways that are less dramatic
- He normally communicates to His children in a still small voice or by a spiritual impression
- He also gives us spiritual pictures or visions
- His communication comes to us spontaneously, as we worshipfully look to the Lord
- One important practice in receiving God's messages to us is to write down what we hear and see
- Jesus always speaks to us in a loving way, even when He corrects us
- The Holy Spirit will always agree with the written word of God
- When we obey the Holy Spirit, it keeps us sensitive to His leading
- When we consistently resist the Holy Spirit's promptings, we can grow deaf to his call
- It is good to be accountable to a mature believer, while discerning God's voice, especially when making major decisions
- After you have heard from God, check what you've heard or seen and make sure it lines up with Scripture
Much of what I've learned about hearing from God can be attributed to a book and course called Communion with God, written by Mark Virkler. I highly recommend this book! I am still on the journey to hear more and more clearly from the Lord, and I still make mistakes. But I have discovered that there is nothing more satisfying than drawing near to the Lord and allowing Him to speak to my heart. This is what intimacy with God is all about. His messages to us bring healing, encouragement, direction, and peace. I hope you will come along with me on this journey to hear and obey God's voice.