Principles for Hearing God's Voice, Part 1 - Bob Sawvelle - Man praying at sunset

When I was about 8 years old, I had a conversation with my 7-year-old brother. We were in the backyard of our childhood home in Ohio, where there was a large buckeye tree and sandbox for us to play in. For some reason, I started a conversation that day with my younger brother about the reality of God and His voice.

I said to him, “I wonder if we could hear God speak?” At that moment, neither of us heard God, but I remember being acutely aware of God’s presence. In fact, I remember during the conversation that the hair on my arm “stood on end!” It was God’s presence, but as I look back on this incident, I believe the Holy Spirit was also communicating something to me. Perhaps God was simply saying, “Yes, I’m with you and I want to communicate with you!”

Did you know that hearing God’s voice should be normal for a Christian? Jesus said clearly “My sheep hear My voice…” (John 10:27 NKJV). As a follower of Christ, hearing the voice of God is a normal and expected reality. There is no simple formula to hearing God, but there are basic principles that each of us can learn to hear His voice, and more specifically, how God speaks to us individually.

I examined last week how God communicated with Elijah in a “still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:12) God can communicate in any way He chooses, and it may be in very dramatic ways. However, most often God speaks to us with a “delicate whispering voice.” To fulfil your purpose, you must learn to hear God’s “quiet” voice. When you are seeking God for direction in your life, understand that His voice often comes as a faint whisper.

When Elijah heard the still small voice of God, it brought him out of the disillusionment, discouragement and depression he was experiencing—the 3 D’s. He fell into his “funk” because of Jezebel’s wicked schemes against him.

The lesson for us today is to resist falling into discouragement, dissolution, and depression because of the threats and schemes of the enemy—or the evil that is in our world. Rather, focus upon what God has done and is doing in your life and for others. Like Elijah, lean into God, seek Him with all your heart, and expect to hear His voice to strengthen and guide you into a new season and a fresh assignment!

I believe for many God is about to renew your life with vitality and strength as you wait on Him (see Isa. 40:31).

As you hear His voice, fresh vision and confidence is coming to finish your race and complete your assignment!

Principles for Hearing God’s Voice

From Genesis to Revelation we see God continually communicating and revealing Himself to His people. Men and women throughout the Bible heard God’s voice. The Bible indicates that we can hear His voice today. There is a deep hunger in each of us to know God and to communicate with Him.

Principle #1: Expect God’s Voice

As I mentioned, Jesus said we hear His voice: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”  (John 10:27 NKJV) When you gave your life to Jesus, the Holy Spirit came and indwelt you—you hear His voice—whether you realize it or not! Now you must tune your spiritual receiver to His frequency! Just like tuning a radio to your favorite station, you must tune your spirit to God’s Spirit to hear the “broadcast” of heaven!

Additionally, since the Holy Spirit was poured out in Acts 2, we should expect to receive a continuous flow of dreams and visions (Acts 2:1-4,17).

On the day of Pentecost, Peter, quoting from the prophet Joel declared,

… I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.” (Acts 2:17-18 NKJV)

The Holy Spirit has been released upon humanity, but much of humanity is unaware of this reality. The Holy Spirit dwells with us and in us, we know Him, and we hear Him. God promises that young and old, all can hear His voice and see what He is revealing. Visionary encounter is a significant dimension of hearing God’s voice. We observe with Jesus this reality.

Jesus, our perfect example, demonstrated living from ongoing relationship with God the Father, and being obedient to His voice; specifically, what He saw revealed to Him by the Father. John explains:

Jesus responded to the Jewish leaders, “I assure you that the Son can’t do anything by himself except what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him everything that he does. He will show him greater works than these so that you will marvel.” John 5:19-20 CEB

Jesus did nothing on His own initiative. He only did what He saw the Father do and what He heard the Father say. What an incredible way to live! Jesus gives us this example to follow, to be led by the Holy Spirit and in accordance with God’s Word.

Principle #2: Discern God’s Voice

Remember that “my sheep hear my voice;” therefore, you hear His voice. The more you tune your spirit to the Holy Spirit, hearing His voice will become a normal occurrence. This is accomplished through developing relationship with Him. You must engage your spirit with God’s Spirit to discern His voice.

There is no simple formula to hearing God’s voice, because each of us will communicate with Him slightly differently. However, you can learn how to recognize His voice to you. I refer to it as the “language of the Spirit.” God communicates through the bible, thoughts, words, impressions, vision and encounters—all comprise the language of the Spirit.

Over time, you begin to discern God’s voice, your voice, and the voice of the enemy. Our voice, and certainly that of the enemy, is often full of doubt, confusion, and even condemnation. Learning to quiet your soul, your emotions and responses to circumstances, will help you hear God’s voice (or language to you) more clearly (I’ll develop some very practical steps next week to aid you in this process).

When bank tellers are trained to identity counterfeit bills from real bills, they are first shown what is real. Real currency has a look to it, identifying features, security strips, and a feel to it. The more familiar they are with real currency, the easy it is for bank workers to identify what is false or counterfeit. In a like manner, the more you become aware of God’s voice, the easier it will be for you to identify your own voice and the voice of the enemy.

Principle #3: Obey God’s Voice

When we hear and obey God, we have success. We must obey His written Word and that which is revealed by the Holy Spirit. We see throughout the bible the positive results of those who heard and then obeyed God’s voice. The more you obey the voice of God, the more you will grow in hearing God. If you are faithful in little, you will be faithful in much.

Remember the story of Elijah hearing the “still small voice of God.” God revealed to Elijah the next steps for him. As Elijah obeyed God’s voice, he lifted himself out of the 3 D’s and Elijah went on to fulfill God’s will for his life.

Elijah loved God. Yes, he became discouraged, but when he heard God’s still small voice he obeyed. Elijah’s obedience then aided him to move into a new season and fulfill his destiny.

You love Jesus, maybe you’ve been disappointed or discouraged over some matter. But obedience to His voice positions you for breakthrough. You love Jesus and follow him, which means you go where He goes—as He reveals!

I love what Prov. 25:11 states,

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.(NKJV)

To hear and see the subtle impressions, words, and visions that God reveals are golden, they are set in rich silver (our redemption)! As we hear and obey God’s voice, his word strengthens us and builds confidence to believe for God’s miracle power in our circumstances!


Next week, I want to develop 4 key principles in how you can hear God’s voice. Have a blessed week and press into God for more – He wants to speak to you, comfort you, and guide you!



For a more in-depth look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “Principles to Hearing God’s Voice”

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Bob Sawvelle

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