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Friday, July 2, 2010

Question of the Week:
How to Hear the Holy Spirit?

"I still have many things to say to you,
but you cannot bear them now.
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come,
He will guide you into all truth."
~ John 16:12-13 (NKJV)

How does a person know the voice of the Holy Spirit?
~ T. Anne

The same way one knows any voice—by being familiar with it. But of course, the Holy Spirit must also speak to be heard.

My experience and the testimony I’ve heard from other people is that to hear God speak audibly (with the ear) occurs on only the most exceptional occasions. (If that happens, there’s no doubt about Who has spoken.)

My experience and the testimony I’ve heard from other people is that the Holy Spirit speaks words like a breath heard in the heart alone.

Part of prayer is talking, but richest prayer includes hearing. Many people have told me that they don’t hear God speak when they pray. I would offer the following reasons for that:
• we don’t listen quietly enough
• we don’t listen long enough
• we talk too much to listen
• He is silent for a reason
• we confuse His voice with other voices
• we don’t recognize His voice
• He is speaking without words

We live in a loud world. Retreating from noise makes it easier to hear from God. Listening long enough is another. Quieting our own desires (our will) is perhaps most important of all, because until we lay aside the will within us, it usually drowns out hearing God’s will.

Which is one of the reasons God may simply be silent—He knows we’re not ready to truly hear what He wants to say. We might pray for a long time, telling Him what we want, and never reach the place of asking what He wants. But if we do ask what He wants, and are ready to do whatever it is, I’ve never known Him to remain silent or unclear.

If we are in prayer and hear (feel) someone speak but aren’t sure whose voice it is, making assumptions is unwise. It could be the Lord, or our own will—or the voice of the devil, who certainly makes himself heard. If it was the Lord, waiting for Him to confirm Himself is better than assuming He spoke.

We better recognize the Lord’s voice by spending time with Him. The more time we spend in prayer and reading the Bible, the more sensitive we become to His voice and language. The more time we spend listening to the world, the more difficult it is to discern Him.

I have also known the Spirit to sometimes speak without words during prayer. He will gently turn my attention where He wishes it and fill me with such clear understanding that I know it is truth. I think of it as "the light bulb goes on."

Any good relationship is far more than talking to a person. It is talking with a person—talking mingled with listening. In relationship with God, one listens attentively for His voice, knowing He wants to be heard.

When one deeply loves God and sits quietly in His presence, even His silences can be quite pleasant.

"And the sheep follow [the shepherd], for they know his voice... I am the good Shepherd... My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."
~ John 10:4,11,27 (NKJV)

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
Art image: "Pentecost" (1732) by Jean II Restout
Image source:

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This post originally appeared at Bullets & Butterflies. To see additional comments, click here.

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