Hearing God in our lives is one of the most critical factors in developing our spirituality and impacting others. Although it may seem difficult to hear His voice, I can assure you that it is not as hard as you may think!
There is no formula that will help us hear His voice, but there are certain spiritual ingredients that will improve our reception—faith, practice, and spiritual sensitivity.
The Resting Dove
I once heard a sermon by Pastor Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, California where he compared being aware of God’s presence to carrying a dove perched on your shoulder. Every movement made and word spoken affects the dove, creating an environment that is either welcoming or disturbing.
In the same way, since the Holy Spirit lives in us, it is our responsibility to live in a way that honors and respects His presence. Scripture instructs us not to grieve Him and to be holy as He is holy;1 however, the ability to hear God’s voice is not only dependent on holiness. It is also dependent on an awareness of His presence that allows our spirits to recognize when He is speaking.
We can see this clearly in the life of Jesus. When He was only twelve years old, His sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading allowed Him to teach the leaders of the temple under the influence and wisdom of the Spirit.2 During His baptism, the Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove, symbolizing empowerment for ministry,3 and during His ministry, it was His unwavering focus on what the Father was doing that caused Him to reach people in such powerful ways.4
Because Jesus was aware of the Spirit upon Him, He was able to decipher even the hidden thoughts and actions of those around Him—an ability later imparted to all believers as the gift of knowledge.5
Jesus was about His Father’s business, which was more important than anything else in His life. In the same way, we desire to engage with the Holy Spirit and have a daily awareness of His presence in our lives.
So why is sensitivity to the Spirit of God so important to us as believers?
1. Our spiritual sensitivity flows out of our relationship with the Lord.
Although not all of us are called to be prophets, we want to hear God in our daily lives, particularly when making important decisions and leading our families. Our relationship with Him is what allows us to know His character and how He communicates. If we are not seeking the face of God, our spiritual sensitivity can be dulled as other concerns of life quickly overwhelm it. Remember, the Holy Spirit’s voice is often a gentle whisper to our hearts; hearing Him requires the discipline of taking time to listen carefully.
2. The increase of our spiritual sensitivity is connected to our response.
I had the opportunity to sit underneath a great general of the faith, Beth Alves, while attending Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, TX. I remember a particular principle she taught one day that can be summed up in one sentence: delayed obedience is disobedience.
I think it’s safe to assume that we all want an increase of God’s presence and power in our lives; this increase comes every time we take a step of faith in response to what He has already said. God’s timing is perfect; our obedience to Him is for our own good and protection. With the practice of acting upon His instructions, our faith will deepen and our sensitivity will grow.
3. Sensitivity to God’s presence positions us to be ready to minister to others.
One of the marks of spiritual maturity is when a Christ-follower moves beyond focusing solely on himself and begins focusing on being available to be used by God to impact others.
As a believer, you possess the same Holy Spirit that Jesus did and have the ability to operate under the influence of His power. Living a prophetic lifestyle is not difficult because He wants to use you to impact people and expand the Kingdom! This should be the normal life for a Christian.
My prayer is that you would be willing to be used, that you would be constantly aware of His presence and sensitive to His Spirit. In doing this, mixed with a little bit of faith and some practice, you will begin to regularly experience both ministry and intimacy with God on an entirely new level, making the reality of His Kingdom ever more present in your life and the lives of others.
Scripture references for additional study:
Ephesians 4:30; 1 Peter 1:16
1 Corinthians 12