Every now and again someone will ask me, “How can I know when God is speaking to me? How can I know that something I’m thinking is God’s will and not just my own idea?” These are questions that come to every Christian. We all want to hear God speak into our lives. We want to be certain of His guidance. We don’t want to make a mistake in discerning what we are hearing.
When answering this question, I think of two verses of Scripture. The first verse is found in I John 2:27, “But you have received the Holy Spirit, and He lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know…” Now, this verse doesn’t mean that we have no need to study God’s Word; it means that as we study and seek God, the Holy Spirit will speak His truth into our hearts. He will be the best teacher, showing us what is correct. He will give us an assurance that what we are hearing is of God and not of ourselves.
We know we need to study because of the second verse I want to share — II Timothy 2:15, “Study to show yourselves approved before God; a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” It is clear that it is of utmost importance that we read God’s Word and meditate upon it. As a valid part of our study, it is extremely helpful to examine the culture and Bible customs of the time. This will help us to keep God’s Word in proper context. Then we will learn how to adequately apply God’s truth to our lives. In other words, as we study God’s Word, the Holy Spirit, as our teacher, will speak the truth of those words and guide us into its life application.
The things we study are used by God’s Spirit to lead us. Often when I have prayed, seeking guidance in some particular matter, a verse of Scripture has come to my mind. As I meditated upon the verse, the path of God’s choosing became clear to me. If I had never studied, then God’s Word would not have been in my heart for the Holy Spirit to bring to my remembrance.
It stands to reason that, the more familiar we are with the Holy Words of God, the more familiar we become with His voice. We learn to recognize when God is speaking, or when it’s someone else, or when it’s our own desires getting in the way. It is only by studying God’s Word that the Holy Spirit is best able to teach us, mold us, and sharpen our spiritual ears to discern the voice of God.
Practicing to recognize His voice is an exciting endeavor, and developing the ability to perceive His truth is a journey that keeps us on a path of continued peace, joy, and amazing adventure in walking with Him!