Acts 8:29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
I wanted to make clear that I don’t hear voices! That expression is mostly used when delusional people hear demonic voices that tell them to do bad things. That is very real also. But when people say “The Lord told me”, “I heard the Lord say”… we certainly are not talking about having heard voices in that manner, although God can choose to speak with His audible voice also. The Bible mentions at least 3 times about “a voice coming from heaven”: Dan. 4:31-32, John 12:28-30, Mark 1:11.
Rather when we say “The Lord spoke to me”, we are referring to the voice of the Spirit. The inner voice that is heard in the spirit. We have 5 physical senses and the same 5 spiritual senses. And the voice of the spirit is not necesarily heard with the physical ear, but the spiritual ear.
I believe all believers have the ability to hear God. In fact I believe all human beings have the ability to hear God. God created us to commune with Him. How can we not? But the issue is paying attention!! Recognizing the voice of the Spirit. So how does God speak? It takes learning by spending time with the Lord.
We recognize more readily when the Spirit highlights Logos (The written Word or Scripture). You sense the Scripture ‘grab’ you. It catches your attention. You end up reading it over and over and take it in as it ministers to your personal situation. And your spirit knows you received from God.
Same when you hear God in the spirit. It’s Rhema. The freshly spoken Word in the moment, by the Spirit of God. Just like Philip experienced in Acts 8:29. And you know that you know you ‘heard’ the Lord. You may read several of my entries on my blog and it is an example of how we can dialogue with the Lord back and forth like a person speaks to his friend. In my journaling I use all caps to differentiate between my prayers and what I sense He is saying. (or what I ‘hear’ Him saying in the spirit, His inner voice)
Now you may ask… How do you know it’s God? Fair question. All things must be tested. This is my attempt to explain the difference: When the enemy speaks, he speaks in FIRST PERSON. Thoughts come to your mind. Example: “No one loves ME”, “I want to die”, “I am not good enough”, “I hate you”. Why? Then you think it’s YOUR thoughts. But it is the enemy. His thoughts are always accusing, always pressuring, always expressing anger, hate, destruction. Such thoughts are not from the Spirit. Start paying attention to what thoughts come to your mind. And “take every thought captive” 2 Cor. 10:5
When Holy Spirit speaks, also thoughts come to your mind. Also subtle. Easily unnoticed if you don’t pay attention. But with practice you can learn to ‘hear’ what thoughts are coming to your mind. Holy Spirit is reassuring, brings comfort, joy, gives hope, love, etc. I always say… fill yourself with the Bible. Get to know the Character of God. Get to know what Scripture says. Then you start separating truth from lies.
If the thought comes to your mind that says “I am ugly”, you know that was not Holy Spirit. Because God would not say such a thing. It contradicts His Word that says “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”. Ps 139:14 On the other hand, if the thoughts come to your mind that says “I love you”, that wasn’t the devil. He cannot love you. He hates your guts.
Practice is what helps you ‘listen’ to the thoughts that come to your mind. Focus on the Lord. Ask Holy Spirit to speak to you. He is faithful. If you ask for bread, He will not give you a stone. Or put this way… If you ask God to speak to you, He will send His spirit, not the devil. Deal aggressively with the enemy. Cancel doubt. Practice ‘listening’. And by all means journal! Write down what you ‘hear’ the Lord saying so you can go back and test it. Is it scriptural? Does it convey God’s heart? Does it show the love of the Father? If newer in learning, ask someone more mature in the Word to read what you receive and test it. Please find more material on my blog on learning how to journal for yourself.