As leaders we are responsible for the guidance and well-being of those we lead, and it is exceptionally important to seek help from God through prayer. The final article in this series will address the difficult topics of what to do when God is silent, and how to know He is the one who is talking.

What do you do when you’ve NEVER heard from God or haven’t in a long time?

Here are some tips:

  • Ask God to improve your ability to discern His voice.
  • Reduce the noise in your life. Silence and solitude are often prerequisites to hearing from God.
  • God often speaks to people through passages in the Bible, so read it regularly. Bill Hybels says, “The most predictable way to hear from heaven is to read and apply God’s Word.” Tips at: A Transformed Life.
  • Stop any ongoing patterns of wrongdoing (sin) in your life. This compromises communication to and from God.

How do you distinguish your own thoughts from God’s voice?

Before you act, there are several “filters” to put impressions and promptings through:

  • Is it truly from God? Take the necessary time to ask God if it is truly from Him. A double-check right away can save a lot of future troubles.
  • Is it Scriptural? God won’t ask you to do anything that is contrary to the Bible. So if you get an idea to steal your neighbor’s car and rob a bank, you can be sure this is not God’s idea. Basic passages on this are the Ten Commandments and the Fruit of the Spirit passage in Galatians chapter 5.
  • Is it wise? God places a high value on wisdom. The books of Proverbs in the Old Testament and James in the New Testament are great places to start. Remember that our worldly “wisdom” sometimes differs from God’s wisdom. Usually this manifests as us equating wisdom with “safety and security” in life and avoidance of conflict.
  • Is it in tune with how you are wired? God typically won’t ask a 70-year-old computer programmer with a bad hip to go back to seminary, learn a new tribal language, and become a missionary deep in the Congo. If He does, there are usually other overwhelming aspects to the situation that will make it clear to everyone that this is the correct action.
  • What do other veteran Christ-followers think? Find a few rock solid people who are wise and ahead of you spiritually, describe the situation, and ask them to pray about it. Then listen openly to the responses you receive.

Following these tips and filters will dramatically increase the probability of hearing from God and being confident in identifying His voice. Then begin to obey His impressions, whispers, and promptings and get ready for a life of adventure and eternal impact!

This article was adapted from Bill Hybels’ The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God. Having the Guts to Respond.

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