As with anything else, getting started isn’t always easy, and the hardest part for most people is learning to let go. You have to be willing to let go of any preconceived ideas you may have and to open your mind and heart to the Lord’s thoughts and the ways of His Spirit, which are different from your own.
Hearing from the Lord requires putting your natural senses and your own thoughts on hold. The first step is believing that there is a spiritual realm, and that Someone there wants to communicate with you. The second is being willing to put aside what your natural senses tell you and sometimes even what “common sense” tells you, in favor of what God wants to tell you.
Once you take those first two steps, you’re ready to begin in earnest! Start by finding a quiet place and taking a few minutes to talk to the Lord. Tell Him what’s on your heart. Tell Him how much He means to you. Thank Him for His love. Thank Him for all the good things He has done in your life. Count your blessings. God loves for you to praise Him. “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.”1
Perhaps you have a specific question you’d like to ask Jesus. Go ahead and ask Him. Specific prayers get specific answers. Or, perhaps you don’t have anything in particular on your mind, but are curious to find out what He might have to say to you. Either way, once you’ve told Him why you want to hear from Him, be still and focus your mind on the Lord. Closing your eyes will help you shut out the sights around you, which can be distracting.
Now do your best to concentrate and listen with your spirit. Getting still and waiting is a manifestation of your faith. It shows that you believe your Creator loves you and will answer you. It’s during this time of quiet, as you wait before the Lord in reverence, quietness, humility, and patience, that He can speak to you.
Sometimes God may speak by bringing to mind a verse or passage from the Bible that you have read or memorized before. This verse, when applied to the particular situation or decision you are faced with, can be the clear and simple answer that you seek.
At other times, the Lord may speak a new message that you’ve never heard before-words that He’s never spoken exactly that way to anyone else. The wording of the message may sound rather formal, or it may be in simple, everyday language. The Lord can express Himself any way He likes on any subject, but He usually speaks to us each in the way that we will have the easiest time receiving and relating to.
So take in whatever comes to your heart, mind, or ears, and accept that as the Lord’s message for you. It’s sort of like giving a running translation: you “hear” one phrase or sentence at a time. As you speak or write down or record that first bit, the Lord will give you more. Each time you repeat what He has told you, it shows you believe that message was from the Lord. It’s a demonstration of your faith, which pleases Him.
It’s easy to dismiss this little inner voice as being your own thoughts, especially when you are first starting to hear from the Lord, but it’s important that you accept that this is Him speaking to you. When you’ve sincerely asked the Lord to speak, He will. And when He does, you must accept what He says as being from Him. “Ask and it will be given you.”1 God fills the spiritually hungry with good things.2 This is where faith is so important, because faith helps you believe God’s promises that when you call out to Him, you will receive an answer.
Try not to think about, analyze, scrutinize, or judge the message as it is coming; just accept it and thank God for it.
You may feel any one of a number of emotions while receiving a message from the Lord. Some people feel a surge of excitement or euphoria, some feel nervous, some break down and cry, some burst out laughing-but many feel nothing unusual at all. Some may feel something one time, and nothing at other times. Whether you feel something or not doesn’t make the message you receive more or less valid. “We walk by faith, and not by sight”-and certainly not by feelings!1
Don’t necessarily expect to receive a long, eloquent message from God the very first time you get quiet and ask Him to speak, although that can happen. Usually with time and experience, as you exercise your gift of prophecy, the messages you receive from the Lord will be more detailed and more complete. So keep practicing. Don’t give up!
Don’t be discouraged if you start out with a “baby” gift of prophecy and only get a phrase or two, or a Bible verse, when you were hoping for something longer. Don’t let that stop you! Be encouraged that you did hear something. As you keep trying, you’ll most likely receive more. Practice makes perfect!
Remember also that a message from Heaven doesn’t have to be lengthy to be good. There are times that the Lord can give you the answer you are seeking in just one sentence. Of course it’s good to wait and see if He has any more to say before going about your business, but if you feel that He has finished talking, then thank Him and trust that those words contain the answer you were seeking.
Or perhaps you were too distracted by other thoughts while praying to hear anything at all. Don’t worry. It’s tough to concentrate sometimes, and the Lord understands our human frailties and weaknesses. This is new to you, and the simple fact that you’re trying is a sign of progress. Keep it up!
Try to take a few minutes each day to pray and praise the Lord. Follow this with your “question of the day” and a few moments of listening for His voice. As you get in the habit of exercising your gift, it will become easier and easier to receive the Lord’s Words.
If you continue to strengthen your faith by reading God’s written Word, and if you continue to earnestly desire this gift of His Spirit, the Lord won’t fail you. God has promised to speak to you, and He won’t let you down as long as you are doing your part.
[In a box:]
It’s easy to get answers from the Lord: You just have to have faith. When you ask the Lord for an answer, expect an answer and take the first thing that comes. If you really believe and ask the Lord, and you want to hear or see, you won’t be disappointed. That thing you see or hear with the eyes or ears of your spirit, that’s the Lord. Just open up your heart and let the sunshine in! “This is the problem, Lord! What are we going to do about it?” If you’re desperate and ask Him, He’ll answer!
* * *
Shutting your eyes helps you to see in the spirit and to become unconscious of the things and people around you. It helps you get your mind on the Lord and in a relaxed position, where nothing distracts you.
* * *
He’s a living God, a speaking God!-One who still loves His children, who still speaks to them. You can hear from God every day. Every day should be a new experience, a new listening to the voice of the Lord.
* * *
It’s important to be specific with the Lord when you ask Him for guidance, and you should expect specific answers. Being specific is a sign of your faith. It shows you really expect a specific answer, or you wouldn’t be so specific!
A baby is such an illustration of faith and hearing from God. When he’s crying for his mother, you wouldn’t think of refusing him. That little baby has more faith than you do sometimes, ’cause when the baby cries, he expects someone to hear him. Because he knows-God put it in him to know-that if he calls, you’ll answer. He expects the answer and he gets it!
After the nipple is in the baby’s mouth, he automatically starts nursing. When you cry out to God for something, He pushes it in your mouth; but if you don’t start sucking, you’ll never get it. You have to have the faith to begin to pull. A lot of times he has to suck for a couple of minutes before he gets something. His sucking is like the action of faith.
What is it that brings the milk out of the breast? It’s a vacuum! The baby deliberately, when he sucks, creates a vacuum inside his mouth, which pulls the milk out. You have to create a vacuum inside your heart: “Lord, here is this empty space-You fill it!”
Do you know what really fills that vacuum? It’s not actually the child. All the child does is create the vacuum by reducing the pressure inside his mouth, and so the milk flows out from the mother’s breast into his mouth. In prayer, you create a vacuum. There’s a space that needs filling; you seek the Lord’s help. You create the vacuum, and it is the Lord’s pressure that fills it. The power really comes from outside, not from inside. All you did was create the vacuum, but that vacuum drew the power.