How Do You Know When God is Speaking to You?

🌺  Written by Brittany Ann

How do you know when God is speaking to you? Keep reading to learn how to hear God’s voice, what it sounds like, and what to do if you haven’t heard Him lately.

Woman looking out window with words how do you know when God is speaking to you?

How do you know when God is speaking to you?

And how do you know it’s really God and not just your own thoughts?

These are important questions with enormous consequences, and how we answer them can shape everything in our lives from big to small.

After all, you don’t want to boldly follow what you think is God’s will — only to be wrong.

But you don’t want to completely miss out on God’s will for your life due to fear or uncertainty, either.

 

The truth is: Hearing God’s voice isn’t always easy. But it is possible.

God’s voice can sound a little different to everyone! It can sound different at different times in our lives, and it can come to us in lots of different ways.

So if you’re wondering, How do you know when God is speaking to you? you’re certainly not alone. I’ve learned a lot listening for God’s voice over the years, and so I’m sharing the following guidelines to help you hear Him too.

 

*This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps cover the many costs of running this site and allows me to help provide for my growing family. Thank you!

 

New! Discover Where God is Calling You Personally

Have you ever wondered, What is God’s will for my life? or What would God want me to do in this situation? I think we all have at some point!

If so, I’d love for you to check out my brand new book, Follow God’s Will: Biblical Guidelines for Everyday Life, along with the Follow God’s Will companion workbook.

Practical, encouraging, and full of biblical truth, Follow God’s Will is designed to help you answer questions including:

  • What does God want me to do?
  • How do I apply the Bible’s instructions to my life today?
  • Where is God calling me personally?
  • How can I make a difference right where I am?
  • How should I navigate relationships with those who think, act, or believe differently than I do?
  • And so many more!

Both books officially launch on October 4th, 2022, BUT you can start reading the first chapter today for free!

Simply enter your first name and email below, and I’ll send you an exclusive “first-peek” right away, right to your inbox!

 

How Do I Know that God is Speaking to Me?

 

Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to answer the question, “How do I know that God is speaking to me?”

For me, and for many other people I’ve spoken to, God’s voice typically sounds small and quiet, like my own voice in my head, but different. God’s voice is rarely loud, obvious, or theatrical. It’s really easy to miss if you’re not paying attention!

That’s why it can help to know what you’re listening for…

 

For me, personally, the way I’ve heard God’s voice has changed over the years, as I’ve grown in faith and obedience.

When I was a teenager, first learning to recognize God speaking to me, I couldn’t always tell the difference between His voice in my head and my own thoughts. What I now know was God leading me initially felt like a strange, random thought that would probably never happen.

Over the years, however, as I’ve practiced listening and obeying, hearing God’s voice has become far easier.

Now, I can hear God easily and often. Sometimes, God speaks to me through the pages of His word. Other times, I simply feel His words or His presence is my spirit as I go about my daily life.

No matter how I hear God, though, God’s voice is NEVER condemning, harsh or full of shame. Yes, His voice has convicted me and directed me, but God never cuts me down as a person. It’s always the voice of someone who loves me and who wants the best for me.

 

Practically speaking, what has helped me has been to find (and even schedule) pockets of quiet when I can actually focus on listening to God’s voice. I also try to read the Bible as much as possible so that I have stories about God’s character and His words floating around in my mind.

The more I intentionally read God’s Word, listen for His voice, and obey His prompting – the easier it is to hear Him again!

 

If you are struggling to know when God is speaking to you, take heart!

The more that we practice listening for God’s voice, the easier it becomes. 

 

How Do You Know When God is Speaking to You? (6 Ways)

 

Sometimes I wish for the days of hearing God through talking donkeys and flaming swords, like He did with the prophet Balaam. (Definitely one of the most memorable Bible stories from my childhood!)

Lots of Bible stories tell about God speaking in extraordinary ways, but these days God’s voice is typically much quieter. The good news is that even though God’s voice today may be less obvious than a talking donkey, there are so many ways that God speaks to us.

If you’ve wondered, “How can I know that God is speaking to me?”, take a look at this list and consider: Have you experienced God talking to you, even if you didn’t realize it?

 

1. Through the Bible and Prayer

 

The more we read the Bible and pray, the more clearly we will hear God’s voice. We can hear God during intentional Bible study time, or when a Bible verse pops into our minds during the day. The important thing is to read or listen to the Bible so that we can hear the words inspired by God Himself.

And the Bible is still relevant today. Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “The word of God is living and active,” and I love this promise that God’s written word continues to give life even today.

If you’re not sure how to get started reading the Bible, I offer an easy guide in my post How to Read the Bible (Easy Instructions for Beginners).

 

Prayer can also be a part of our conversation with God. We may not hear words from God, but we may sense a response from Him through a Bible verse or have a feeling of peace or direction. In fact, it is one of the works of the Holy Spirit to help us to know God better through prayer.

 

Now we have received… the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. (1 Corinthians 2:12)

 

2. In Our Thoughts

 

We can turn our thoughts to God even during the craziness of our days, like prayer-on-the-go. Turning my thoughts towards God like this means that I can hear His voice even outside my designated prayer time.

 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

 

3. In Our Conscience

 

Have you ever experienced a serious conviction that something was wrong, even though you couldn’t find a Bible verse to explain why?

The Bible tells us that God has placed His law in the hearts of people who don’t even know Him. This means that even if I don’t know every word of the Bible, this “natural law” can often speak through our conscience and guide us.

 

They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them. (Romans 2:15)

 

4. Through Our Feelings and/or Desires

 

A lot of times, feelings and emotions are shot down as irrational or unreliable. And while we shouldn’t follow every whim, it is God who created our emotions and desires in the first place.  If God created feelings, He can certainly speak to us through them.

 

 For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)

 

5. Through Our Circumstances

 

God can open doors that we would never, ever expect to walk through, or He can close doors that we counted on being open. An honest look at our circumstances can help us hear God’s voice in unexpected ways.

In the Bible, the apostle Paul was always trying to go one place, when the word of God, or shipwreck, or imprisonment changed his plans. (Acts 16 is a great example of his crazy path.)  Because he listened to God and changed his plans, he spread the gospel through the Roman empire.

 

6. Through Other People

 

Guidance can come from someone we expect to give us advice, or it can come from someone we never would’ve turned to. Other people might confirm something we were already thinking, or they can challenge us to hear God’s voice in an unexpected way.

In the Bible, Esther’s uncle challenged her to have courage, even when putting her own life in danger for the sake of the Jewish people:

 

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

 

How Do You Know if God is Talking to You (or if it’s just your own thoughts?)

 

One fear you might experience when wondering how do you know if God is speaking to you is whether you’re actually hearing God, or if you’re getting God’s voice and your own thoughts mixed up.

The fact that you are even asking this means that you are on the right track! 1 Thessalonians 5:21 tells us to “test them all; hold on to what is good.”

We are supposed to test what we think is God’s voice so we can be sure it’s Him!

So what kind of test should you use?

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you determine if God is talking to you:

 

1. Does what I’m hearing line up with God’s Word?

 

God will never contradict what He has already told us in His Word, the Bible. This includes what Jesus tells us are the two greatest commands of all: to love God and to love others (Matthew 22:37-40). Any thought or action that does not come from love for God, for others, and for ourselves cannot be from God.

 

2. Is what I’m hearing true and logical?

 

The Bible tells us repeatedly that God is a God of truth (Deuteronomy 32:4; John 14:6). If what we hear is not true, it is not from God.

Similarly, while God can ask us to do things that don’t make sense from a human perspective (for example, asking Noah to build an ark or Joshua to march around Jericho), He is not going to ask us to do something that makes no sense in light of where He has already called us or how He has already gifted us.

 

3. Does what I’m hearing contribute to my own good and the good of others?

 

God promises that He “works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28).

We know that doesn’t necessarily mean that life will be easy — Jesus says that his followers each have a cross to carry (Matthew 16:24). However, we can be confident that following God’s voice will not harm us and will ultimately give life not just to ourselves, but also to others.

 

4. Does what I’m hearing make sense in light of my current gifts, resources, and abilities?

 

God has created each of us with unique gifts and abilities and an individual story. God’s voice will be true to those unique traits. Your story will look different from someone else’s and that’s the way it should be. This doesn’t mean that God can’t call us to something beyond our own human ability — He can and will — but it should make some sense in light of the ways He has equipped and gifted us.

 

5. What are the likely consequences of each choice?

 

Emotions are important, but so is logic. Honestly evaluating where different paths will lead can help us know when we are hearing God’s voice. This isn’t the same as trying to control every aspect of the future — that’s impossible! But sometimes looking a few more steps into the future can make God’s voice more clear. This is where a simple pros and cons list can be very helpful.

 

6. Does what I’m hearing lead me to conviction and growth (or shame and condemnation)?

 

God’s voice can be challenging, but it’s never unloving or condemning. God will call us to grow more like Christ; He will never tell us that we are worthless or not good enough. Negative thinking should be dismissed, but correction should be welcomed.

 

7. Have godly mentors also seen this call of God on my life?

 

There are times that I get stuck inside my own thoughts, and I know I need to actually speak out loud about an issue with a trusted mentor or friend. Asking someone else to discuss something with me, walk me through my thoughts, or even just pray for me can help me discern if it’s God’s voice I’m hearing.

 

You don’t have to blindly wonder how do you know when God is speaking to you — it’s okay to test what you hear! Not only can answering these questions bring more clarity, but learning to hear God’s voice now will help you to hear His voice better in the future, too.

 

Still not sure if it’s God’s voice you’re hearing or not?

My newest book, Follow God’s Will, also lists other questions, exercises, Bible verses, and exercises that might be very helpful for you as you seek to answer the question, “How do I know that God is speaking to me?”

You can find Follow God’s Will on Amazon here.

 

What If I Never Hear God Speaking to Me? (4 Reasons You Don’t Hear God)

 

If the reason you’re wondering, “How do you know when God is speaking to you?” is because you’ve never heard God speak to you before, there are a few reasons why you might be struggling to hear God’s voice.

Four common reasons you may struggle to hear God speaking to you include:

 

1. You haven’t asked

 

Yup, sometimes it is really that simple — we need to ask. Even if you are scared to ask, or hesitant, or confident that you already know the answer, ask anyway!

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)

 

2. You haven’t taken the time to listen

 

Have you ever asked someone a question but then didn’t hear the answer because you were distracted by something else? I do this more than I would like as a mom, and I’ve realized that sometimes I do the same thing to God. Make sure you take the time to listen.

 

3. You need to be patient

 

It can be so hard to wait, but the promises for those who wait for God’s voice are pretty amazing:

 

…but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

 

4. You heard God, but you refused to listen

 

Every so often, I will tell my kids something they don’t want to hear, so they will try to wait me out to see if my answer will change. Sometimes God speaks, but we simply don’t want to follow what He says. Some honest self-reflection can help us straighten this out if it’s needed.

 

Any of these problems can happen in human communication, and they can happen in your relationship with God too.

If you feel like you haven’t heard from God in awhile, it might be time to pause and to pray. Pause by setting time aside — whether it’s five minutes or 30 minutes, whatever you’ve got. Then pray and ask God to make you willing and open to His voice.

And if you don’t hear God’s voice right away, and are still wondering, “How do I know when God is talking to me?”, don’t stress! Sometimes God wants us to wait for His timing, and He doesn’t ask anything more than our willingness to listen.

 

Ready to Discover Where God is Calling You Personally?

Whether you’d love a little additional help to hear God’s voice clearly, or you have heard His voice and you’re ready for next steps, I have a great resource for you!

My new book is accessible for everyone, wherever you are on your faith journey. Check out Follow God’s Will: Biblical Guidelines for Everyday Life (along with the Follow God’s Will companion workbook).

Practical, encouraging, and full of biblical truth, Follow God’s Will is designed to help you answer questions including:

  • What does God want me to do?
  • How do I apply the Bible’s instructions to my life today?
  • Where is God calling me personally?
  • How can I make a difference right where I am?
  • How should I navigate relationships with those who think, act, or believe differently than I do?
  • And so many more!

Both books officially launch on October 4th, 2022, BUT you can start reading the first chapter today for free!

Simply enter your first name and email below, and I’ll send you an exclusive “first-peek” right away, right to your inbox!

In Case You Missed It

 

Equipping Godly Women is passionate about helping you seek God’s will for your life. Check out these related blog posts for even more practical ways to find, hear, and follow God’s will.

 

How to Know God’s Will for Your Life

How Do I Hear God’s Voice Clearly?

How to Share the Gospel (Without Being Weird or Pushy)

How to Memorize Scripture (Quickly and Easily!)

 

How have you experienced God speaking to you very clearly and directly? Or what have you done to hear God’s voice better? Leave a comment below to share your experiences or practical tips!

 

Join the Discussion

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  1. Hearing God speaks is very enjoyable. I have heard him speak clearly to me in prayer and when when I am doing my daily duties. In his word I get more confirmations

    Thank you for sharing with us this powerful piece. i needed it

    God bless you

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