Hearing God’s Voice — Part 1
Prepare your heart to know God’s will
Doug Britton, MFT
Walk close to God
The better you know God, the better able you will be to hear his voice and understand what he is saying. Take the time to get to know God better every day. Read the Bible daily. Pray throughout the day. Spend time with other believers. Serve others.
As you take these steps, God will begin to renew your mind, which will give you the ability to understand him—his love, his forgiveness, and his holiness. As you understand him better, you will be able to better understand his will.
Paul made this point in his letter to the Romans:
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
As you can see, Paul made three points in this verse: (1) Stop turning to the world for wisdom. (2) Instead, let God renew your mind. Then (3) you will be able to learn what God’s will is.
What do you think?
1. This lesson says the better you know God, the easier it is to know his will. What does this mean?
2. Do you agree with this? Why or why not?
3. How are you doing at the four ways to get to know God better—reading the Bible daily, praying throughout the day, spending time with other believers, and serving others?
4. Choose one of these ways that needs improvement in your life. What steps will you take to improve?
Related: First Things First
Be willing to do what God says
There will probably be times when what you want to do is different from what God wants you to do. Even Jesus had this experience. Follow Jesus’ example.
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)
What do you think?
5. Why should we do what God says, not what we want to do?
Examine your motives. Always seek to please God.
When you seek God’s will, it’s a good idea to examine your heart. If you are asking about something you would like to do, be careful that you don’t allow your own desires to block God’s voice. Be sure that your main goal is to please God.
The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him. (John 8:29)
Related: Guard your thought life
If you have disobeyed God
Everybody alive could say there have been times when they did not do what God told them to do. When this happens, treat it seriously, but don’t give up.
If you disobeyed God, confess your sin and he will forgive you.
If you have disobeyed God, don’t be discouraged and don’t give up. Humble yourself, confess your sin, accept his forgiveness, and he will be with you as continue to walk with him.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Make it personal
6. If you disobeyed God, should you give up on walking with God? Why or why not?
7. Have you ever disobeyed God and not confessed your sin? If so, take a moment to ask his forgiveness. Then thank him for forgiving you and ask him to help you be more obedient in the future.
Related: God’s love for us
If you disobeyed God, his plan for you might be different now.
If you didn’t do something God told you to do a month ago and decide to do it today, it might be okay to do it today. However, sometimes timing is important, and God might not want you to do the same thing now.
In Numbers, there is a story about a time the Israelites disobeyed God. Later they decided they would follow God’s previous instructions, but God told them “no.” The original plan was no longer operative. They went ahead anyway, and suffered disastrous results.
But Moses said, “Why are you disobeying the LORD’s command? This will not succeed! Do not go up, because the LORD is not with you. You will be defeated by your enemies, for the Amalekites and Canaanites will face you there. Because you have turned away from the LORD, he will not be with you and you will fall by the sword.” (Numbers 14:41-43)
There have been many times in my life when I did not do what God said. When I asked forgiveness, he forgave me. Sometimes he had me follow his previous instructions, and sometime he gave me something new to do.
God may lead you through circumstances
Sometimes God’s will is very clear. Other times he leads us through experiences without telling us what he’s doing. In fact, we may have no idea that he is leading us.
At times God leads us in pleasant ways. For example, God may bring you into contact with the person you will marry, open up ministry opportunities, or help you succeed on the job.
Other times, God may take you through hard experiences with a goal in mind. For example, Joseph went through some extremely difficult times. He was thrown into a hole and heard his brothers plotting to kill him. He was sold into slavery. He was falsely accused by an Egyptian leader’s wife and thrown into prison. Eventually, he was released from prison and became a leader in Pharaoh’s court.
Sometime later God brought Joseph’s brothers back into his life. They were afraid he would punish them for their cruel actions. However, Joseph knew that God had been leading over the years. God had used the experiences to help develop Joseph’s character and to plan for the time the Israelites needed help because of a famine in their land.
But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:19-20)
Joseph’s example doesn’t mean that every difficult experience you go through was engineered by God. However, you can be sure that if you go through hard times, God will be with you to help and comfort you.
The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9)
But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. (Psalm 10:14)
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
Be prepared to go through times of uncertainty. You may not see the big picture, but God does.
Make it personal
8. Have you ever realized that God had been leading you when you weren’t aware of it? If so, describe what happened.
God won’t always tell you all the details
God often leads us step-by-step without telling us all the details. For example, he told the early Christians that they would be his witnesses far beyond Jerusalem.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
However, he did not say that this would be accomplished when they had to flee Jerusalem to escape persecution.
Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. (Acts 8:4)
Let’s look at another example: When Peter began preaching, he did not know that God intended the gospel to be for Gentiles as well as Jews. It wasn’t until God gave him a vision that he saw God’s big picture.
Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism.” (Acts 10:34)
Related: Who is God?
If you are facing a major decision and you don’t need to decide right away, take some time to pray about it and perhaps talk with some mature friends. Things may become clear in time. On the other hand, if you need to make a decision right away, prayerfully make the best decision you can.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
1. Do you agree it’s a good idea to walk close to God if you want to know his will? Why or why not?
2. What is one way you will draw closer to God this week?
3. What lesson do you learn from the time Jesus said, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39)?
4. Have you ever disobeyed God? If so, does that mean you should give up your Christian walk? Why or why not?
5. This study says God sometimes leads us through circumstances. Give an example of this from the Bible or your own life.
6. Why do you think God doesn’t always tell us all the details when he tells us to do something?
7. Write a prayer asking God to help you know him better.
“Hearing God’s Voice” . . . Continued
Click here to read Part 2 of “Hearing God’s Voice—Go to the Bible to know God’s will.”
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About Doug Britton, MFT
Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)
Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.