Several weeks ago I went to the mountains on a spiritual retreat with some friends. I’m currently in a time of transition in my life and desperately wanted to hear from God–you know, next steps, and all that. I’m a morning person, so I was really excited to get up on the first morning and have my quiet time somewhere outside, surrounded by God’s beauty in nature. I scoped out a little spot the night before, set my alarm, and went to bed, excited for what the morning would hold.
I got up early the next morning, gathered all my stuff (Bible, journal, devotion, pen, coffee), and headed out to the spot I had found the night before, except that it was still too dark there for me to see. I walked around outside until I found this little bench under a tree with a magnificent view of the mountains. I started to sit down, but the bench was wet, so I went back up the steps, inside the house, and gathered some paper towels.
Now with my bench dry, I sat down and settled in to hear from God. And it started to rain. So I began to gather my stuff, when I heard in my spirit, “Stay. Be still. I am your covering.” I looked up, and the tree above me had branches that extended over me and covered me. So I opened my Bible and began to read my devotion, which began with this verse:
“But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come” (John 16:13, NIV84).
I continued with my quiet time, praying and reading God’s Word. Suddenly, I heard the sound of a hard rain coming from my right. I turned and saw a downpour headed my way. Once again, I began to gather my stuff to go inside, when I heard, “Stay. Be still. I am your covering. Don’t run at the first sign of trouble. Trust me to cover you. You may get a few sprinkles, but it won’t kill you.” I thought of these verses:
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge” (Psalm 91:4a).
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 13:33).
So I stayed. And sure enough, I got a few drops; but even in the downpour, I barely got wet because of the branches over me. So, once again I continued with my quiet time. But then the rain came harder and a cold wind began to blow. I was thinking, “Okay, lesson learned, it’s time to go.”
But again I heard His voice, “I’ve already provided for you.” I looked down and remembered I had brought my sweatshirt outside with me because the temperature was cool when I got up. So, I put on the sweatshirt and stayed.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 4:19).
As soon as I determined that I would just stay until I was finished with my quiet time, I heard the sound of birds singing nearby. I heard God say, “Now, worship Me.”
Before I could even think of a song I wanted to sing to Him, the song just came out of my spirit and through my lips: “Holy Spirit, rain down, rain down.” I sat there and worshiped the Lord who loves me enough to make me stay and be still in His presence, to cover me, to protect me, and to provide for me. I didn’t need to know the next steps for my life. I only needed to know that He is with me and leading me.
Three Ways to Discern the Voice of God
You may ask, “How do you know that God was speaking to you?”
Since I have committed to spend time with God every day, I have learned to know His voice. So I want to share briefly three ways to discern the voice of God.
The more time we spend with God in His Word, the more we will recognize His voice. God will never contradict His Word. If what we hear doesn’t line up with the Word of God, we are NOT hearing God.
“The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow the voice of a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice” (John 10:2-5).
We have to put ourselves in a position to hear from God. We have to be willing to set aside time with the Lord, to be still, to be quiet, and to listen. The more time we spend with God (not just when we’re desperate, but all the time), the more we will be in a position to recognize His voice.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
God will speak to those who are walking with Him and are willing to obey what they hear. If we ignore that still, small voice of the Spirit guiding us, then why should we expect Him to continue to speak? We need to have a sanctified ear–one set apart to listen to the Spirit and obey Him.
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it'” (Isaiah 30:21).
Knowing the way is not enough; we have to walk in it. God will speak to us and show us the way. He will speak through His Word; He will speak through His voice to us; He will speak to us through others, such as our pastor and Sunday school teachers. The question is, do we recognize when He is speaking?
God can speak whether we expect Him to or not, but I believe we are more likely to hear when we are expecting to hear. Enter your quiet time with expectation. Go to church expecting God to speak. Go to God with your questions, confusion, or decisions and trust Him to speak to You. His truth will be confirmed by His Word and by inner peace.
Before I left the retreat, I had peace that God was with me, leading and guiding me into His perfect will. On the last day, my friend told me to listen to the song below–further confirmation that I was hearing from God.
Do you need to hear from God right now? I’m praying for you, my friend. Stay. Be still. He will speak.