There’s an interesting essay at the internetmonk blog site about “hearing” God. I encourage you to read it.
The author refers to the way in which evangelical Christians will say that they feel “led by God” to do this or that of that “God told me..”
I have heard God speak to my heart on a number of occasions. Sometimes it was like a sudden and startling “voice” in my head, a comment or command that came out of seemingly nowhere and was so unexpected, I knew it wasn’t my own thought. Some examples…..
1.) I was standing in a book store looking at a number of book titles by a particular female teacher/TV evangelist. I had been toying with the notion of writing a book about a particular topic that the Lord had been instructing me on in my recent studies of the Bible. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I “heard”, in my head, not in my ear, “I don’t need more clever wordsmiths. I need faithful teachers.” I almost jumped out of my skin. I knew instantly that God was settling the issue of any speculating I was doing about writing a book. And with that, I resolved to simply teach what I was being taught in the Word and not waste time thinking grandiose thoughts about book writing or public speaking.
2.) I was driving home from a business meeting out of town. I had been having a considerable amount of difficulty with a particular co-worker who seemed out to sabotage my work in several offices on which we both called. I’d had to deal with her on three different occasions over issues related to what appeared to me to be her view of me more as a competitor that as a collaborative team member. I was puzzling over what in the world I had done to her to make her so obviously antagonistic toward me. As I poured over the day’s events in my mind, again, suddenly, without warning came the clear impression (almost visible in my mind’s eye!) of “passive aggressive”. I had not yet even begun to think of graduate school in counseling and knew nothing about the passive aggressive personality at the time. So when I got home, I googled it, read about it and it was so much like the individual I’d been contending with that it was amazing to me! Where else could that thought have come from except God answering my plea for understanding?
Such experiences have been fairly common in my life over the last 15 or so years. I’ve noted them in my journal each time such an event has occurred. Do I believe that every such experience is a word from God? No. Do I believe that satan (lower case is intentional) can “plant” thoughts in our minds in an attempt to deceive us into thinking we’re hearing from God? Yes. Do I believe one’s subconscious can generate a thought that seems to be from outside oneself but is really just an expression of one’s own desires? Yes.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) I have grown in my ability to “test the spirits”, as we are instructed to do in the Bible. And let me say right now that, having had a psychotic break in 1997, I am VERY cautious about testing anything that my senses tell me, since I know that my senses can be wrong about what they’re sensing. But do I believe that God can and does “speak” to people? Absolutely. But I also believe that, first and foremost, God speaks to us through His written Word, the Bible. If we are not relying on it and seeking God within its pages, then we likely will miss or misinterpret any other speaking that we might hear Him doing whether it is by his Spirit, through His people, or in our circumstances.