• Debbie Salter Goodwin

How Do I Know When God Speaks?


I have been asked this question more than any other question. Too many believe that conversation with an invisible God means a one-way conversation. They fill up the space with talking because they don’t know how to use their heart’s eyes and ears to understand the presence of a living God. They are not atheists or agnostics. They believe in God. They talk to Him. But in the absence of recognizing God’s voice, they substitute their own answers and best ideas. Then, they blame God when something doesn’t work out.


So how do we know when God is talking? How do we know when to stop talking so that we can listen? It’s not a formula; it’s a courtship. It’s learning to listen deeper, more honestly, and without imposing our ideas. Thankfully, there are principles to guide. Consider this a starter list:


1. God’s voice always connects with God’s character as identified in God’s Word.


You can’t imagine how many times I’ve heard this principle broken. This isn’t about finding a verse to support an idea. This is about learning God’s character as described in His Word. Actions reflect character. Start with God’s character to understand God’s actions rather than startig with His actions. You can easily substitute your own interpretation for the action if you don't.

2. God’s voice always pushes us toward God’s character.


God isn’t just rying to make a better version of ourselves. God’s desire is to help us retrieve His image jHe planted in us. He will always nudge us toward His character. He will always offer ways to growth the fruit of His Spirit working in us. The goal is not the character trait; the goal is following God’s direction. We can become good people without God, but we can’t become godly people without God!


3. God’s voice is gentle and nurturing.


We’ve been set up to believe that a negative, pushy, loud voice tells us where we need to do better. I call that voice, “the pointy-finger-voice.” It could belong to a parent or teacher or even yourself. It’s the shaming voice. But God doesn’t shame us into doing the right thing. He loves us too much to do that. He whispers, You can do this because I’m here to help. I believe in you.

4. God’s voice often communicates what I would never tell myself.


You’re beautiful. You’re capable. You can do this. Let me show you another way. Ask for forgiveness. Sometimes in my conversation with God, I am the one giving the reasons why I can’t do something God asks of me. Practice has taught me the difference between God’s instructions and my rebuttal. When I am willing to stop the debate that God never started, I am ready to submit.


5. Obedience and God’s Word is the only way to confirm God’s voice.


When will you know for sure that it was God talking? When you obey whatever He tells you to do as confirmed in 1-4. Confirmation comes after obedience, not before it. Remember, following God is a faith journey. Practice identifying the loving, gentle whisper and obey the direction as quickly as the situation calls for and God will make sure you see the wisdom of His instruction.


The good news is we can become better listeners. We affirm God’s voice every time we obey. Obedience grooms us to be God’s mouthpiece. Obedience in the little things will grow a commitment to obedience in the big issues. Besides, Jesus promised that His Spirit, His teaching-loving-healing-guiding Spirit will always be available to guide us to Truth as God defines it.

Take a minute right now to let God tell you what you need to hear the most. Practice this simple exercise every day, many times during the day. Don’t let any other voice tell you that you can’t know for sure when God speaks.


God is a speaking God. We just need to listen.