To listen to Nancy’s answer recorded from Moody Radio, click here.

I have always been a bit of a skeptic when it comes to a Christian who casually talks about what God had verbally told him. How does he know if what he heard was God’s voice? Could it not have been his own voice? What about Satan disguising himself as an angel of light? He is a deceiver and is in the business of misleading Christians.

I know that God has audibly verbalized messages to people and comes to them in dreams but, for most of us, God speaks to us while we are reading or meditating on His Word. All of scripture is God’s inspired Word so yes, we can, in our Spirit, listen to God while reading the Bible. The “Word” in the Greek is Logos which is a masculine noun meaning a word uttered by a living voice that embodies a conception or idea.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

Jesus said that when He left this world, He would send to us the Holy Spirit to live in us. His purpose is to glorify God as He intercedes for us and guides us into producing the fruit of the Spirit. It is not a mystery, it is the Holy Spirit teaching us and convicting us of our own sin without audible words! If our hearts are open to hearing the truth, then we know what needs to be done. Through the Word, we are sanctified, convicted, guided and encouraged by God. We can choose to obey with what we are reading or not obey. If our prayer life is only to get our own requests granted, we will be sorely disappointed. But, if we are seeking truth and understanding, God promises that we will find it. 

As we read the Bible, we should also be praying that God would show us wisdom and understanding of His Word. Prayer is that beautiful time when we lay aside our own agendas and our will and seek to better understand God’s will for our lives and decisions to be made. If we go into prayer doubting that God hears us and would ever answer prayer, we will most likely be unable to discern the truth from a lie. While we speak to God in prayer, He speaks to us through His Word. 

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

1 John 4:1 tells us to test the spirits to see if that voice or inclination is of God.

  • Will what we do reflect the Spirit of Christ or that of this world?
  • Will this idea lead me to be more Christ-like?
  • Is this voice telling me to do what I want and ask for forgiveness later?
  • Is this something I can do in my flesh without God? If so, know that it is not of God.
  • If the reply to my question is confusing and without order and in conflict with the Word, then know that is not of God!
  • If the voice is telling me to take the easy road because God would never make me work hard to do the impossible, know that too is a lie.
  • Will the end result of an answer lead to sin or harm to others?
  • Will God get all the glory for this thought or plan?
  • What is my motivation for doing something?
  • Am I willing to go on God’s timing and not my own?

Those who “keep in step with the Spirit” have “crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24–25).

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, gives His promise: “He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice” (John 10:4). Others may speak, “but the sheep do not listen to them” (verse 8).

The better we know our Shepherd, the less we have to worry about heeding the wrong voice