You were created to have a relationship with God. Everyone was. And that means that every single person on this planet has the capacity to hear His voice (even little ol’ me and you).
God speaks in many ways. It could come in the form of a vision, a dream, an impression, a sensation, a thought, a sudden realization, or even an audible voice. Everyone “hears” Him in different ways.
For some reason, the most common way God speaks to me is in visions–mental images that either stand alone or seem somehow superimposed on whatever I’m looking at. But occasionally He speaks to me gently and quietly in my thoughts. Admittedly, I’m still learning to pay attention to these gentle nudges from the Holy Spirit, and today I learned a big lesson.
While driving to church this morning, the Holy Spirit told me to put some air in my right rear tire. That was a strange impression because I hadn’t seen this tire, and I didn’t think it was low. Anyhow, by the time I got to church, I had forgotten all about that passing thought and moved on.
Then on the way home, I turned on the local news station on the radio. Within five minutes of driving, they had a couple public service announcements. The first had something to do with heart attacks or something like that; but the second one was a reminder to make sure all your tires were fully inflated!
My mind went immediately to the thought the Holy Spirit gave me that morning, and I began to consider pulling over and pumping up that tire. But for whatever reason, I still was not convinced that it was the Holy Spirit! I shrugged it off as though it was nothing. Sure enough, five miles down the road, my right rear tire blew out.
I felt rather stupid as I knelt in the snow and changed that tire. But I learned a valuable lesson: even though we can’t base every decision on our feelings or impressions, we should still be looking for the voice of God leading us and guiding us in love. The Holy Spirit speaks in whatever way He sees fit, and I should not limit Him to one method. Just because I didn’t have a vision of that tire didn’t mean I wasn’t hearing from God. We need to test these impressions and allow the Lord to teach us to hear Him and know Him better.
I want to encourage you to practice hearing God’s voice in whatever way He might choose to speak to you. When you hear, do a little mental check: (1) Is it in line with Scripture? (2) Is it in line with the nature of Christ? Sometimes you can’t answer question 1–after all, there’s nothing in the Bible about putting air in your tire! But that’s where question 2 comes in. I would not have been compromising anything but my own comfort if I had pulled off the road and checked that tire when the Holy Spirit first told me to. Jesus won’t ask you to sin, and it is logical for Him to be looking out for your protection. That’s His nature.
Get to know Him. The better you know Christ, the easier it will be to discern His voice and obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
For further reading on this topic, I highly recommend Steve Thompson’s book You May All Prophesy, which is perhaps the most practical book I’ve ever read about hearing God’s voice and putting it into action.