We live in a world where so many things call for our attention. Information is at our finger tips. Our heads are full of thoughts that either come from the media, from external life circumstances or from our own mind racing to all kinds of things. We think of all the options we have, we formulate our opinions on matters, we run through our daily task list and sometimes we barely have time to think, we just run from one thing to the other. We live in a world of noise, overstimulation and restleness and ambitions.
Our soul has been trained by all the noise in the world and all the activity to be very alert and at the fore front of our being. We use our mind, our will and emotions a lot during a normal day. The problem is, we end up relying on our soul almost without noticing. We operate from our soul realm as a default. We value what we think, how it makes us feel, we value what we want and work to get there. We tend to hear our soul’s comments, opinions, analysis in the mind and impressions based on our emotions.
When we come to God, if we are to hear His voice, we can only connect to Him reliably through our spirit man. But the problem is, we have so used to our soul speaking that it takes a quietening of the soul in order to have direct and untamed, unaffected connection to God through our spirit. We need to have a free phone connection to heaven, free from the noise and disturbance and restlessness and self-will of the soul. That’s why God says in His Word:
Be STILL and know that I AM GOD.
When He says: ‘Be still’ he is speaking to our soul – our mind, will and emotions. We have to do what David did in Psalm
42:11: “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help
of my countenance and my God.”
David is basically telling his soul to be quiet and surrender to his spirit who hopes and trusts in God. We need to do the same each time we want to connect with God in such a way that we can hear His voice – every time we pray.
One way I have learned to begin this process of quieting the soul and the flesh is by starting with reading the Bible. The Bible is like a two edged sword, which divides even between the soul and the spirit:
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.Hebrews 4:12
The Word of God, when read with an attentive heart, eager to learn, becomes active in you and powerfully separates what is of the soul and what is of the spirit. It quiets the soul and brings the spirit to the fore front. This way we start the process of quieting the soul, so the spirit can be the prime thing through which we operate in our time of prayer.
The next step I take before I start praying, not religiously, but naturally, I enter into an attitude best described like this: I make a concious effort to LET GO of thinking about:
– my many tasks that await me that day
– my surroundings, I shut them out and fix my eyes on Jesus
– any initiatives of the soul/flesh that want me to hurry through the prayer so I can get to do all the soul wants to do
– any questioning of God: Why God, did this happen? I position my soul in state of trust regardless of unanswered questions, perplexing events and other such disturbances of the soul. I choose to believe that all God thinks I need to know and have answers for now, He will give those to me and other unanswered questions I am content to leave it up to His wisdom if and when to give me an answer. He knows how much I need to know and I can trust Him with that.
– I let go of my own opinions and ambitions, and I acknowledge within me that I really don’t have the answers to my life and I am not really that smart to know how to run my own life or that of others, I am totally dependent on God and choosing therefore to be totally reliant on God and His wisdom, which I have come to seek in prayer.
– I also acknowledge within me that I am lost without God, I cannot find my way, cannot stay on the way and cannot live for God without God being the main source of my success. I need Him desperately to have any chance.
– I choose not to worry about anything, but instead focus on connecting to God, trusting that He has all the answers.
This is how the process of quieting your soul goes. It is like undressing yourself of the many coats you have put on as you mingled in the world, coats that weigh you down and crush the spirit man. What I said above may sound complicated but it is all really just a quieting down of yourself and your own initiative, ideas, will and emotions and surroundings in order to hear God properly through your spirit, cause He only communicates to your spirit man, and the spirit man informs the soul later. If the soul is at the forefront and has the priority by default because it has been over exercised (whatever you exercise grows), then it will be like white noise to your spirit and your communication with God.
It may sound difficult to do what I said above, but in fact, is not so much something that you do, it’s an attitude you embrace – it’s the attitudes of all the above, which can happen in a matter of seconds, and for very stressed souls maybe minutes.
When God says in Luke 9:24:
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” The actual word ‘life’ is in greek ‘psucke’ which means soul, your soul life. God is not saying He wants you to give up existing or being yourself, He says give up acting and operating from our soul realm (which is all that a spiritually dead person could do) and start living and operating and acting from the spirit man which has been regenerated in Christ. Our soul is still in the process of being sanctified and renewed, but our spirit is regenerated and alive once we give our soul life to Jesus.
Since we start by giving up our soul life (doing whatever we want to do in the body through our mind, will and emotions, independent of God) and start living from our new man, new regenerated spirit who is surrendered to God, doesn’t it sound logical that we continue the same way. We need to give up relying and trusting our soul and relying on the spirit of God and His word, communicated to our spirit man. You need to let God do a takeover operation and take over your soul, so your soul is under the influence of your spirit and God’s spirit not the other way around. It says in the Scripture that the carnal man cannot understand the things of the spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14). So, if we still live from the carnal self, the flesh, our soul not surrendered to God, we cannot hear God’s voice, because we cannot understand it. The same way, if we come to God in prayer and we do not deal with the noise of the soul, and it’s will, wants, ambitions, plans and schemes and quiet it down in surrender to God, we cannot connect reliably with God through our spirit to hear His voice in a consistent basis.
It also says in Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct[a] your paths.
This Scripture clearly teaches that if you want to be directed by God, you need to give up relying on what you think, your opinions and your natural knowledge. It will not work otherwise.
Also, the Scripture says that those whom God considers his sons are known so by the fact that they walk led by the Spirit. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Romans 8:14 . As you can see, it does not say led by their own soul, mind or will, by their own opinions, self made plans and ambitions. It is those led by the Spirit, those who are not relying on their own understanding, but follow the Spirit of God who conmunicates with their spirit man. Those who give priority and operate and live out of their spirit man rather than their soul realm.
I have found that whenever I operate from my spirit, I am filled with faith, joy, peace, regardless of the circumstances. I am free and able to hear God. When I let my soul take the reigns, I loose my peace, I make bad decisions and create chaos and stress in my life.
I compare the quieting of the soul with coming to meet a very good friend whom I know won’t hurt me and only wants my best. Have you ever had a very close friend? One with whom you felt at home, safe, in whose presence you relaxed and then felt free to pour out your heart without any fear of being condemned or getting a wrong kind of treatment in response.
It’s the same with God. I come to Him just like that, like to my very best friend. I relax in His presence, I start to enter my comfort zone, my safe place, I am home, I belong. I know I am loved and will be helped. I know I can pour out anything to Him, even my most gross sins, my most abhorrent thoughts, even hateful thoughts about Him, and He will never change towards me. He will always love me and help me through my muddled up thoughts or emotions. I can be angry with Him when I don’t understand and He won’t strike me dead. I am totally safe in His presence. With these 2 attitudes, I am ready to talk to God:
1. I deny my soul, and bring my spirit to the fore front
2. I relax and get ready for the most honest and safe, relaxed conversation
This as I said, it does not have to be hard work, it’s just getting your heart in that place by a choice of will. It’s like settling in a comfortable chair and letting all the worries and burdens of the world fall of your shoulders. When you are in that place, ready to talk to God, I start talking to Him like to my best friend, I say “Good Morning”, sometimes I verbalize that here I come again God, just to be with you. I sometimes verbalize my dependence and total need for Him and that without His help I am totally lost and helpless.
The temptation at this point is usually to jump and pour your whole heart to God like to your best friend. While that might be ok at times, I find that there is a higher road that I consider to be the safest path to hearing from God. Instead of pouring my heart out straight away, I start by thanking God for the good things in my life and praising Him for it. I don’t want to be a demanding ungrateful brat, I want to show God I appreciate what He already said to me and done for me so far. That sets a good presence between us and puts me in an attitude of humility. We enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. It’s just a good way of starting the conversation before you ask for more.
As I praise or thank God, I keep my spirit with its ears open, as I talk, some song might pop into my heart. To me, this is a good indication that God’s spirit wants me to sing that song. I let loose in it and loose myself in adoration and worship towards God. I shut all else around me and just have eyes for Him alone. And I sing and sing and sing till my soul enters into a state of awe of God and I feel my heart gets quiet. Usually you can sense like the dying of the singing and a deep awe or peace falls over you. You are over awed at God and you just want to bask in that peace. That’s exactly what you should do.
Stop singing and just wait quietly before God. Wait with a surrendered heart that waits for God to do, or say anything. This is not your time to talk or flap the wings of your soul. This is a place for God to take the initiative and you to wait expectantly and reverently for what He is about to do or say.
This is the place to hear God. When your heart is like prostrate before God, with no more initiatives of its own, no more flappings of the flesh, just in awe of God, still, like a weaned child, wanting only God and what God can do and say. Don’t rush, don’t be in a hurry, this is the place of rest, these are the quiet waters in Psalm 23. Here the noise of the world is totally shut down, the restlessness of the soul is dead and your spirit is wide awake and keenly attentive and has clear connection with God.
Don’t rush, no matter what. Wait as long as you feel that awe is still over your heart. You will know when it’s lifted and you know it’s time to move on. During that quiet, if you feel it right within you, ask God for what’s on your heart. No need to use many words, when in such a place. Ask shortly what you want direction about and just return to that quiet attitude, and just wait, just wait silently.
After a while, desires might come to your heart, impressions or thoughts might come to your mind or images, pictures might appear before you in your spirit, usually filled with a reverent peace. Usually they come as a still small voice, not forceful, but gentle and lowly, with a caring tone. Usually this is God speaking to you.
I mentioned that you will experience a reverent peace with it all. The reason I am saying this is because there is a false peace that comes to those whose souls are not surrendered before they enter their time of seeking God for direction and therefore, out of their unsubmitted soul, they hear what they want to hear, because their selfish ambitions have not been laid on the altar, they still think they are wise and know what’s good for themselves and think they can manage alright.
Those who want their will more than God’s in their soul and they have not denied their soul and picked up the cross, they will hear what they want to hear, cause that’s the answer they are looking for. They will hear the deception of their own wicked heart which will lead them astray in more trouble and chaos.
A Word of Caution: Even in that place of awe and stillness of soul, if you hear anything that does not line up with the Word of God, or your spirit does not feel at peace or confirms it, it needs to be rejected or rechecked with God. Don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits as the Scripture has taught us.
So, to summarize the above article:
In order to hear from God, we need to:
– enter into an attitude where we willfully choose to quiet our soul in order to let the spirit man have first place
– enter into an at home, comfortable attitude about communicating with our best ever friend, God
– Follow the thanksgiving, praise, worship path until we enter into an attitude of awe and complete stillness of soul
– wait still before God and just ask only what comes from your heart at that time
– wait some more unrushed and expectantly for God to speak or to minister to yourself in some way
– test everything against the Word of God and reverent peace
Sometimes God does not necessarily want to say something to you. You have to be content with the fact that His wise choice is to say nothing at times, just to be with you. You will feel His peace, or His rest, or His joy or faith rise in your soul, or His love upon your spirit and soul. Sometimes He just brings up a memory and talks to you about what happened then, brings healing to your soul, release of trauma and stress from that memory or brings more understandings about the event. Or He might move upon you to release you from your present stress that has accumulated over you as a burden because of the present circumstances.
Bottom line: you don’t put conditions on God about what He needs to do or answer during this time of waiting on Him. You can ask Him questions (as I said, sparing your words, cause you are here to listen more than to speak), but He might choose not to answer and deal with something else or do something else in you. This is His time, and He will say or do what is wise and best for you at the time. You need to trust Him with that. He knows better and loves you more than you love yourself.
You can’t force His hand to give you answers or try to read His mind. If you try, you open yourself to other voices of deception speaking to you, when you demand an answer. You got to trust God about when and if to speak about your issue and just choose to trust everything in His hands, even if you don’t get an answer. What is better after all, an answer, or God moving upon you to touch your heart in some way.
I remember in my first 2 years of faith. I somehow did this naturally. I was going through many troubles and sometimes life was scary, sometimes painful. I would go to God and sometimes I could not even speak because of pain. So I would just settle in that comfortable, safe feeling of being at home with God and then speak inside my heart, sometimes also with words, however I could. I would at times just say simply this:
Here I am, You know what is happening, You know what I am going through, please just come to me, I need you. And then just sit and wait for Him to come and minister to me, expectantly. And He never failed to come. Sometimes He came in the form of a feeling of love that surrounded my very being, like a blanket of love or liquid love pouring through my soul. It would have the effect of opening me up when I could not even cry for pain, and I was able to cry again and release all my pain. I did not even request answers, ask why it is happening, I just wanted to feel Him there and know that He knows and cares. He usually would release me of the burden or the pain and I would feel free and light again. That’s all I needed.
Other times, He would come with a deep peace, that passes all understanding, when I was going through situations that were strongly troubling my soul. The situation did not necessarily change for quite a while, but I changed every time I connected with God and I would rise from this time with God feeling peace and strength to carry on with life and face whatever was to come next.
God did not promise us a trouble free life, one where injustice and many perplexing things won’t happen. He told us that through many tribulations we would enter the Kingdom of God, but He wants us in the mist of it all to be of good cheer, because He has overcome it all. It does not mean by overcoming that will necesarily remove it, but will help us to go through it as overcomers.
He does many things of course to answer our prayer and change our life in many ways through miracles, and these certainly happened in great measure in my life, but He never promised to always take us out of our tribulations, but He did promise that we can walk with joy and as overcomers, because He has overcome the effect these negative things have upon us, so we can be Christlike.
God’s main goal for us in this life is that we become Christlike more than that we have a comfortable, problem free life. Faith can only develop where it is needed, in a time of lack and need. The breeding ground for Christlikeness and the complete man is trials. See how God confirms this in James 1:2-4:
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
So trials are the breeding ground for us to become perfect and complete, lacking nothing. In trials, our faith is tested. Jesus said He already overcome in all those tests, so He will help us overcome as well. But trials are allowed as tests for our faith, which require not just patience, but long suffering to work in us what God wants to work during that trial.
So, knowing this, we can relax in trusting God to make the choice for us, in either taking us out of the trial or through it as overcomers. That will make our heart content and not demanding towards God for answers. From that place of peace and stillness of soul we can receive either God’s answers or His ministry to us for what we need most.
I encourage you to set time aside every day to meet with God and not just bombard Him with your rushed prayer requests till He hardly can say a word back to you, but give Him plenty of space to communicate with you. When you come to God you come not as much because you want to be heard but because you want to hear His perspective on things and you want to encounter His presence.
There is a place for persistent asking with God, but the place to hear God’s voice in reply is usually a quiet time where you are still and here for His still small voice, quiet whisper, sometimes it is so gentle and so quiet, that if you are not quiet enough yourself you can miss it. God is so gentle and so not imposing Himself. You need to be very attentive, yet relaxed and at home.
I also encourage you to practice living out of your spirit and not out of your soul throughout the day as well. And have moments of quietness. The more you life out of your spirit, the more chances there are to hear more from God, because your line is connected and free from interference. He can surprise you at any time, sometimes the most unexpected time, sometimes an inconvenient time and speak to you. When you live out of your soul you will experience anxiety, fear, worry. You can switch into living from the spirit, but making a choice to trust and pray instead. You can even tell yourself: No, why are you downcast and disquieted, of, my soul? Trust in the Lord and you shall YET see His salvation. And you can even say to yourself: No, I will live out of my spirit not out of my soul or my flesh.
Sometimes He tests you by speaking in an inconvenient time to see if you really live for Him first, or yourself. Life becomes exciting when you leave from your spirit and God can surprise you at any time with a word from Him or a direction to do something or pray for someone. You will leave an adventure of miracles and answers to prayer or you will be praying at the right time or ringing someone just when they need it most. It will spice up your normal day to day life like nothing less.
Don’t miss the adventure! Embark now on the journey of hearing from God!
PS. Feel free to write below your testimonies on how you heard from God, you never know who might read it and get encouraged! Also, feel free to write any questions or comments and I and other believers will do our best to reply with God’s help
I acknowledge there are many other ways to hear from God as well, as limited as God’s personality is, but this is one way that I know generally works from experience.
To learn more on this subject, I suggest you read the other articles I wrote on the subject, which will give you answers and practical tips on how to hear from God.
I wrote one more article specific to hearing the voice of God and knowing the will of God specific to marriage. Marriage is the second most important decision you will ever make in life, after the decision to follow Christ. It’s consequences affect your entire life, and the lives of your children and children’s children for generations. You want to get this one right. Here is an article to help you in this decision to recognize and hear from God well about this decision. This is written from my own personal experience as well as from observing and counselling many women and men over the years while pastoring and as a missionary, many who unfortunately made the wrong decision and suffered and still suffering greatly or even lost their faith.
God bless you