My mom often talked freely about her relationship with God, frequently speaking about conversations she had with him. Hearing God’s voice was never a foreign concept or an absurd thing to say, which I am extremely thankful for. Her example has allowed me to naturally speak to God as I speak to my friends. I know this isn’t the case for everyone, which is why I’m choosing to write on this topic.
It takes patience and practice, as well as testing, to differentiate between your inner dialogue and God’s voice. Sometimes it’s loud, deep, and very clear. Sometimes it’s a faint whisper that sounds like your voice but speaks bold truths. Sometimes your thoughts are directed to a specific scripture that challenges or encourages you. Sometimes you can close your eyes and see a picture or a scene that adds clarity to a problem or question you’re wrestling with. There is more than one way of hearing God.
In high school I learned one of my most memorale lessons on hearing God’s voice. The instructor was an elder at the Latter-Day Saints (LDS) chuch across the street from my high school and he taught during lunches. While I wasn’t (and still not, for the record) a member of the LDS church, many of my friends were, so I joined where my friends went.
The elder played 3 tracks, pausing after each one to let the class guess who the voice belonged to. The first 2 were musical artists I enjoyed listening to and easily guessed, but the third was a speaker I had never heard before. The third voice was a highly revered elder in the church who often spoke on televised events. Since this was unfamiliar terrirory for me, I had no context for this unknown voice. The point he made was to be familiar with a voice you need to hear it often. Think about how often you listen to Justin Bieber on the radio or your best friend on the phone; You know instantly the person behind the voice when he or she speaks. It’s the same principle with God’s voice.
My best friend and I have been friends for 13 years. We update each other with bullet-point lists, send random snapchats of our ever-evolving habits, and sit in comfortable silence when reunited for more than a few hours. I love that our relationship is to a point where words are no longer needed sometimes and it’s not awkward. I feel similar when I worship God through music. Sometimes I just don’t need words to communicate. It can all be said as I sing vowels loudly.
When I was in South Africa, one of my leaders shared this insight with the group. We were camping out on a church’s extraordinarily large yard and able to yell as loud as we could to spur-of-the-moment guitar playing. There is something very freeing to just sing “ooooooohhhhhh oooooohhhh ooooooohhh” as loudly as possible and potentially on key. It’s as if someone else is saying words and I’m just creating the space to make it happen. In Romans chapter 8, Paul writes
For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. (Romans 8:26b -27, NLT)
I think you should definitely give it a try. I personally use the time when I have the house to myself to sing loudly. Sometimes I will drive down another street so I can worship loudly through music and not bother anyone. If you need help finding a song, I suggest two of my favorite songs: