If you want to learn how to hear God’s voice, I highly recommend the book Surprised by the Voice of God by Jack Deere. Its subtitle is How God Speaks Today Through Prophecies, Dreams, and Visions. It is available here. The author came out of the cessationist camp and landed squarely in the middle of the charismatic Vineyard Christian Fellowship, even being mentored by the founder of that ministry, John Wimber. He also wrote Surprised by the Power of the Spirit in which he describes how that transformation took place.
In Surprised by the Voice of God, Jack Deere gives many examples of God speaking to people in multiple ways in the Bible and in contemporary life. He tells how to accurately hear God speak through prophecies, dreams, visions, and other forms of divine communication. As a biblical scholar, he points out things that we laymen might miss in our regular Bible reading. For example, he goes through the book of Acts and shows that, with the exception of chapter 17, every chapter contains an example of, or a reference to, supernatural revelatory communication from God to his servants. He also tells fascinating stories of real people whose lives have been profoundly impacted by hearing God speak to them. And he shares personal experiences of hearing God speak to him in a variety of ways and the effect it has had on his spiritual life. He writes in a very personal, engaging style and reveals a sense of humor and humility you might not expect from a theology professor. I really enjoy reading his books.
My personal journey of learning how to hear God’s voice began when I realized that I was never sure if I was hearing from God or from my own mind or from the devil or what! I asked the Lord to help me hear Him better. Gary had just lost his job at the end of 2001, and I asked God to do this for me because I knew that His people really need to be able to hear His voice and know it’s Him, especially as we get into the last days and deception gets stronger. So I prayed for God to speak to me clearly. The thought came to me, “Buy yourself a new dress.” I laughed. I thought, “I don’t buy myself clothes. Everything I get is for the kids. I don’t buy dresses. I don’t even wear dresses! I don’t want to buy myself a new dress. Gary just lost his job. We have no money. And I’m supposed to go buy myself a new dress?” So I realized it must be God telling me that, because I certainly wouldn’t have thought of it myself. So I told Gary what had just happened, and he said, “Let’s go shopping.”
We went to Elder Beerman’s, and they just happened to be having Clover Days sales. They had reduced prices on their most expensive dresses, so that you could buy a $100 dress for $10. I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited. I started trying on all these fancy dresses. Most of them were long dresses, and I wondered where I could even wear them. I decided that I really liked 3 particular dresses – 2 long, fancy ones and one more practical knee-length dress that I could wear to church. We bought all 3 of them and took them home. I felt so good about my bargains, and it was fun having some new dresses in my closet. The next morning I woke up to hear these words: “I only told you to buy one dress.” Oh no! I asked the Lord to forgive me for disobeying Him and asked what I should do about it. I knew that I had to take two of the dresses back. But which two? I prayed and asked the Lord and tried to figure out with my mind which dress would be the right one to keep. The logical choice was the one I could wear to church. But somehow I didn’t think that was what He wanted. I started to understand that when I ask God His will, I’m not supposed to use my mind to figure out what makes the most sense. I’m really supposed to listen to what He says. I just couldn’t figure out which dress I was supposed to keep, so I asked the Lord to bypass my mind and speak to my spirit. When I did that I knew I was supposed to keep the red dress. We drove back over to the store and took the other dresses back and got the money back for them. My favorite one had really been a sparkly sapphire blue long dress, and I secretly wished I could have kept that one, but it was not to be. The whole thing turned out to be a real test of obedience for me.
After that, I started really paying attention to my spirit and what God was saying to my spirit instead of mentally figuring out what made sense to me whenever I was supposed to be consulting God about something. I read several books. One was by Joy Dawson called Forever Ruined for the Ordinary available here. It was an eye-opening book in which she talked about ways of seeking God’s will that are similar to the Urim and Thummim that the Old Testament priests used. She taught that we need to put our soul and our flesh in submission to our spirit. From her book, I learned to pray that God would bypass my mind and speak to my spirit- that it was okay. When I did it earlier, I wasn’t sure it was right. I learned to ask God yes or no questions. I learned that we need to bind anything that would keep us from hearing God speak to us. Then I learned that we can feel and hear our spirit somewhere near our stomach region. We started asking God specific questions about whether we should go to a certain place or if we should do a certain thing. We would phrase it as a question that could be answered yes or no. We started to hear in our spirits the answer to the question. We learned to stop thinking and start listening with our spirits.
We have been doing this for a couple of years now, and it’s getting easier to hear with our spirits. After we hear His answer, it’s up to us to obey even if what we heard seems crazy. The Lord has used this to give us such assurance that we are really hearing from Him and not just muddling along in life, hoping that we’re pleasing Him and doing His will. He has taken us through some really hard times, but being able to hear clearly from Him has made it easier than it would have been and has helped us to make right choices when they seemed to be illogical and even harmful to us. We know that we’re hearing from God and not some other spirit because we bind anything that would keep us from hearing from Him. This includes demonic spirits. We know that we’ve been hearing His instructions because He has delivered us from an impossible situation of homelessness, hopelessness and despair and has brought us into a place of abundance, prosperity and joy.
You CAN hear God’s voice! You have to learn a whole new way of listening, though – with your spirit, not your mind.