Practical Tips to Recognize God’s Voice in Scripture
In these uncertain times, many feel uneasy about the state of the world. With Trump’s continual indictments, the escalating war in Ukraine, inflation, deception from our sacred institutions, the growing apostasy of the church, and the clear warnings from Scripture about the coming troubles ahead, if you’re not careful, all of this can instill fear and depression in you and make you not want to get out of bed. But that should never be the case. Our Lord has not left us alone or without guidance. He promises we will recognize His voice among the others and be able to follow Him, no matter what circumstances we may find ourselves in (John 10:4).
Remember, God wants to speak to us through His Word. And when we believe that to be true, then His Word becomes more to us than a bunch of stories that happen to people we can’t relate to a long time ago. Instead, His Word becomes something alive, active, and powerful in our lives (Heb. 4:12). His Word becomes the channel through which we come to know Him better. And when it does, when we see the Scriptures this way, they become the greatest blessing of all.
So, let’s look at a few ways we can learn to hear His voice through His Word so that when we come together on Sunday, we can share with others how God has spoken to us and changed our lives.
Keys to Hearing His Voice
The first key to hearing God’s voice is to have a heart of expectancy and grand anticipation. We must believe the Bible is much more than an ancient, archaic book— it is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training us in the life of righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). In essence, God’s Word is right and correct about everything it addresses. And it addresses everything in life. Plus, God promises His Word will not return void but will accomplish His purposes (Isa. 55:11), which, among other things, is to conform us to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). So come to the Scriptures eagerly expecting God has something personal to say to you each day— you will not be disappointed.
Second, pray for insight and understanding before reading God’s Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your spiritual eyes and ears to receive His truth. They are right before you, just under the surface, waiting to be discovered. But you have to have the desire to seek after them to find them. Before you read, pray something like this, “Open my eyes, that I may see wonderful things in Your law” (Psalm 119:18). Then watch the Spirit lead you into all truth as you seek God’s wisdom in His Word (John 16:13, James 1:5).
Next, when you read the Scriptures, slow down and take your time. This is not a race against the clock. Read them thoughtfully, carefully, and slowly, savoring each word as coming from the lips of God directly to you. Read the passage once, twice, or multiple times, emphasizing each word as you do, letting the words sink deep into your heart and soul instead of rushing through just to get finished. And as you meditate on God’s Word, His voice will rise above the noise and distractions of life that seem to demand so much of our attention. Remember the promise: “Blessed is the man…(whose) delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).
Also, write down the verses, passages, or principles that speak to you so you can later reflect on them and share them with others. The physical act of writing helps cement God’s words in your mind, making them easier to remember. And reviewing these key Scriptures regularly, maybe during your prayer times with the Lord, will help train you to discern God’s voice over your own and help you practice what He has revealed to you.
And most importantly, you must put into practice what you are reading and learning from Scripture. Obedience is the key that unlocks the door of intimacy with God and allows you to hear more of His voice. Remember the promise of Jesus, “He who has My commandments and keeps them (obedience), it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and (1) I will love him and (2) manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21). Manifest in this passage means “to make known, to be seen openly, to experience with the senses.”¹ Just think, God will reveal Himself to you to be experienced by your senses, if you obey what He has told you in your times alone with Him and His Word. Isn’t that the point of surrendering to Him?
How Does God Speak to Us Through His Word?
As we spend time daily soaking in God’s Word, His voice will become unmistakable to us. Here are some specific ways He speaks through His Word:²
Through Direct Commands: God gives clear instructions in Scripture for thinking, living, and acting righteously. For instance, the Ten Commandments provide directives on how to follow God wholeheartedly and love others unselfishly, just like He does. And if God commands us to do something (or to not do something), we can rest assured we are able to follow His command because God would never require us to do what we cannot do (1 Cor. 10:13). Remember, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, (promise) and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). And God often “directs our paths” by revealing His commands to us in Scripture. From that point forward, all we have to do is obey.
Through Timeless Principles: God’s Word provides timeless truths and principles we can apply to life’s circumstances. For example, we have principles like: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39), “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31), and “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). By meditating on these precepts, we can be better prepared to make wise and prudent decisions based on the will of God and not fall prey to lies and deceit of the evil one (John 8:44).
Through Correction and Warning: At times, God speaks through Scripture to correct wrong or selfish thinking or warn against the sinful choices we are about to make. His rebukes and warnings are often painful but reveal His loving care and desire for our best. We must welcome and embrace God’s correction and chastisement to walk in freedom from sin and lusts of the flesh, knowing He loves and delights in us. “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Prov. 3:11-12).
Through Promises and Reassurance: From Genesis to Revelation, God encourages His people with promises of His presence, power, blessings, faithfulness, peace, protection, and love. For example, after Joshua’s death, God tells the Israelites, “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). In a world filled with trouble and strife, God promises to comfort and sustain us in every situation. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; (why) for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
In all these ways, and countless others, God faithfully speaks through His Word to instruct, guide, convict, encourage, empower, heal, correct, affirm, challenge, and comfort us. And as we dedicate time to Scripture reading and memorization, we will soon recognize His voice more and more. As Jesus promised, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).
Staying Anchored to Him and His Word
Staying anchored in God’s Word is the best way to hear His voice above the noise of life. Though distractions and busyness threaten to drown out His voice, as we carve out quiet time to meet with God in the Bible each day, He promises to speak to us. And when He does, everything changes in our spiritual life. Not sure that’s true? Then try it for yourself, and you’ll see. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
God has so much He wants to say to you through His Word. Simply draw near to Him today with a sense of expectancy. Open your heart to receive whatever He wants to reveal from His Word. Allow His living voice to bring you hope, healing, conviction, direction, and purpose. Choose today to listen and obey His voice above all the noise competing for your attention. And if you do, you will be refreshed and transformed into the image of Christ.
1. Zodhiates, S. (2000). In The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). AMG Publishers.
2. Actually, God can speak to us any way He chooses, from a “still small voice” in the mouth of a cave (1 Kings 19:12) or through the lips of a donkey (Numbers 22:28-30). He is God, and He does what He pleases (Psalm 115:3).