During this time of year, we hear a lot of prophecies about how God is going to move—and prophetic warnings about what will happen in our nation—but that doesn't always help you in your day-to-day life. Even when you receive personal prophecies, it's no substitute from hearing from God for yourself. But how do we hear from God? How does He speak to His people?
I've been doing a series on this topic for the new year. We started out with "4 Things to Do if You Can't Hear God's Voice" two weeks ago. Last week, I offered you "5 Ways God Speaks to His People." Now, we'll look at five more ways God speaks.
Mind you, these articles don't aim to offer an exhaustive list. God can speak to you in many different ways. But whether you struggle to hear His voice or just want to fine tune your ear to His heartbeat, I pray you'll be inspired to press in with a listening ear.
1. Holy Spirit Speaks Through Our Conscience
God can speak to us through our conscience. Our conscience sounds a lot like God because He speaks to our spirit and our spirit speaks to our conscience. How do you know if it's your conscience, your imaginations or God talking to you?
Consider this example: Have you ever met a set of identical twins? At first, you can't tell them apart—but as you get to know them you discover they have their own distinctive personalities. As you get to to know them, you can tell the difference. That's important because your conscience is not God. You can reason yourself out of God's will by following your conscience apart from God's wisdom.
When God speaks to us through our conscience, it can almost be like dripping water from a faucet. You just keep coming back to that same truth. When you layer this with other ways God speaks, such as through His word and through peace, you can be confident when it's God and when it's just you.
2. Holy Spirit Speaks Through a Sudden Flash of Inspiration
Some people just get a sudden flash of inspiration. They just have a knowing in their spirit. You may have heard it said, "It strikes me ... ." or "It came to me ... ." You can't really explain it, but you just know that you know that you know it's God. Again, you should temper this with other tests—does it line up with biblical principles, does your spouse, church family bear witness, etc.—especially if you are making an important decision.
But not everything is an important decision and Holy Spirit is interested in helping you with even the small things in life. I've had sudden inspirations to get money out of an ATM and ignored it, only to discover an hour later that I was in a place that didn't accept credit cards and there were no ATMs anywhere in sight. When you get these flashes of inspiration, pay attention.
3. Holy Spirit Speaks Through Impressions
An impression is a faint feeling in your spirit that you are supposed to say or do something. Intercessors sometimes say, "You were on my heart." That can be an impression or an urge to pray. When it comes to impressions, you don't hear the actual voice of God, but you feel a strong urge in your spirit and have a knowing that you need to follow through. You may never see the fruit of obedience to instructions through this mode of communications—or you may see plainly how God worked in the situation. That doesn't matter as much as following Holy Spirit's promptings.
4. God Sometimes Speaks in an Audible Voice
Hearing the audible voice of God is rare indeed. It happened to me once in the midst of a particularly terrible trial. I was down on my knees praying late into the night. I feel asleep. Suddenly, I heard a voice that woke me—startled me—and offered me a promise that I continue to hold on to today. It shook me. I actually thought someone was in the room with me. I could not sleep after that. I could only meditate on the words that were spoken. Holy Spirit reminds me of those words at strategic times in my life to show me how God is bringing them to pass.
5. Holy Spirit Speaks in a Still, Small Voice
Last but not least is the still, small voice we read about in 1 Kings 19:2. God actually speaks to you—but not audibly from the outside. He speaks to your heart. It can be so quiet that you will miss it if you are not paying attention. At times, it can be so subtle that many people don't even believe it's God. This is how He usually speaks to me. I just hear that still, small voice, and I've learned to know it's Him.
God speaks in many different ways. We need to pay close attention and establish a pattern of how He speaks to us most often. Monitor the track record with success in this with these different ways. If you are consistently on target with one of these, then you can be confident in that area. If you are consistently off target with one of these areas, then you don't need to be prophesying to people or making decisions on those ways.
The Bible is the bottom line authority on all things, but some situations are not covered by the Bible in specific ways, like job choices or ministry turning points. We need to hear from the Lord for ourselves and for others. I pray that God will open your spiritual ears to hear His voice clearly.
Want more? I produced a YouTube video series on how to hear God's voice in times of crisis that you can watch if you want to go in-depth on this topic, and I'd recommend checking out my new prophetic devotional, Mornings With the Holy Spirit: Listening Daily to the Still, Small Voice of God, if you want practical examples of how God speaks in the everyday life of a believer.
Jennifer LeClaire is senior editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale and author of several books, including Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Religion and Witchcraft, and The Spiritual Warrior's Guide to Defeating Jezebel. You can visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.