Steve Furtick wrote an interesting article about the most important thing a church planter needs. Of all the skills needed, he says that the ability to hear from God is and should be number 1.
Many of us would, to use the 80's phrase, say, "No DUH!" But often, we don't act like we know or believe that to be true. We spend more time and money going to the last leadership conference or marketing seminar, or whatever, and we could have spent less than half of that on a private retreat that would allow us to hear God better. Am I against conferences? My it never be. I love them, but I also recognize that they often cause as much exhaustion as anything else we cram into our schedule.
Here are some ways that I have learned to hear God's voice:
1. Get Consistent. I have struggled to be consistent. I still struggle. I have written about this before, and hope it continues to help people. The reality is that we need to be spending consistent amounts of time in God's presence in order to hear his voice. Are we going to hear His voice every time we crack open the Bible? No, but if we are not spending time with God on a consistent basis, we are more likely to miss it when He does speak.
I believe Paul was onto something when he related spiritual growth with athletics. In athletic training, it is the day-in day-out training that prepares the person for competition. If they didn't practice and workout, they would never be able to perform at the high level required. We too must practice (that is the reason they are called the spiritual practices or disciplines).
2. Get Away. We all know the value of leaving our job for a few weeks to spend time vacationing. But we can often forget to leave the routine and normal things behind in order to hear God. Get away, go to a cabin, hotel room, or secluded park. Get out of the norm. If possible, spend a few days in the new environment. Use the time to specifically seek God and hear His voice.
3. Get Alone. Solitude is a valuable resource for hearing God's voice. When we are with people, we are tempted to put up our guards and barriers. We are tempted to talk. This leads to point 4...
4. Get Quiet. Turn off the TV, the radio, the mp3, the computer (not yet though), and sit quietly. Go for a quiet walk in a secluded area. Go to a monastery or prayer chapel. Get away from the noise of everyday life. When you begin to include large sections of noiseless time in your day, you will notice God's voice more often.
5. Get Out. When people think of drawing closer to God they most often think about reading the Bible and praying. Both of these are necessary, but I think you also need to get out and serve someone. I have found that serving others in my community has made me more generous, understanding, caring, and compassionate. I think a major part of hearing God's voice is serving the people that God loves in practical, loving ways.
Out of the Grey had a great song on their first album titled, "He is Not Silent." One line from the song is "He is not silent, we are not listening." I have found that when I want to hear from God, I am often to blame because I haven't been listening.
What are some ways you use to hear God's voice?
Here are a few other posts you might find helpful:
How to Read Scripture
Is Skepticism Killing Your Spiritual Growth
We Need More Than Band Aids
5 Steps to Have a Consistent Time with God