Running into Eli’s bedroom, little Samuel called out, “Here I am, for you did call me.”
Eli peered through the dark at the vague outline of the small boy in front of him. This was the third time that night that he had come bursting into his room, insisting that he called him. Suddenly, he realized what was happening. Looking into the boy’s earnest face, he said, “Go, lie down; and if you hear Him call you again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ ” (see 1 Samuel 3:1-9)
Like many of us, Samuel had not learned to recognize God’s voice. This was his first lesson. When he asked the Lord to speak to him, the Lord told him about His judgment on the house of Eli. It was a lot for a little boy to take in. However, it was the start of something that would continue for the rest of his life.
I recall the first time I distinctly heard the Lord speak to me. It was like He spoke thoughts into my spirit. I knew it was the Lord, and I did what He told me to do to the best of my ability. I was about seventeen years old, and I am still learning to recognize and obey His voice today.
Jesus said that His sheep can expect to hear His voice:
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27 NKJV)
Jesus also said that it is important for sheep to recognize the voice of the shepherd:
“And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him for they know his voice.” (John 10:4 NKJV)
Jesus warned that there are other voices out there, so the sheep need to know the difference:
“Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:5 NLJV)
This is why it is so important to become familiar with God’s voice, so that we are not influenced by any other. There is an enemy out there, who is always trying to deceive us. At the same time, we need to know that God’s ability to keep us is far greater than the enemy’s ability to deceive us. Isn’t that good to know?
Now the first thing we need to realize is that God doesn’t always speak to us the same way. Sometimes we may hear a distinct voice in our spirits, but at other times it may be a “still small voice” that we can barely perceive. We get that expression from Elijah’s experience, found in 1 Kings 19:12.
There are some believers who have heard God speak to them like Samuel. It sounded like an audible voice! They have even looked around to see who was speaking, only to see no one around them. Most of us have not had an experience like that, but we can still hear God’s voice clearly. We just need to learn to recognize it.
Regardless of how we hear God’s voice, we need to realize that He speaks to us in our spirits, not in our minds. The Apostle Paul wrote:
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our SPIRIT that we are children of God.” (Romans 8:16 NKJV, emphasis mine.)
Once we learn to hear His voice in our spirits, we will recognize it more easily.
This verse also brings up another way God speaks to us: We may get a “witness” in our spirits. This may come as a feeling in our spirit that God wants us to do something. When we obey that feeling, we will see that it was God who moved us to do that thing. The key is being sensitive to any voice or leading or prompting we may feel in our spirits. The more we recognize these things, the more we will be amazed at how God speaks to us in different ways.
Another key to hearing God’s voice is obedience. We have to obey God’s voice, regardless of how He speaks to us. The more we learn to recognize and obey His voice, the more He will speak and show us even greater things.
Now you may say, “God never speaks to me like that.” This is where we need to acknowledge that God does speak to people today, and then we need to believe that we can hear Him speak to us. Faith opens the door for us to hear His voice. The next thing we have to do is put our faith into action and listen. When we ask Him to show us what to do in a situation, we need to take time to quietly listen for His voice. The more we spend time listening for His voice, the more we will hear Him.
You are holy, dear saint!
Can you recall the first time you recognizcd God’s voice speaking to you? Have you ever noticed that He speaks to you in different ways? Let me know in the comments below!