If you want to begin listening to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to guide your steps but you’re not sure how to begin, here are seven tips to help you start listening to the Holy Spirit:
1. Spend time with God through Bible study and prayer.
God has already spoken through His Word. The more time you spend with God through reading His Word and through prayer, the more familiar you’ll become with His voice. This is important because God will never tell you to do anything that contradicts His written Word. The more time you spend time with God, the more familiar you will become with His voice.
2. Memorize Scripture.
The Bible is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). It will change you, transform you, make you more receptive to hear God’s voice. It’s not enough to simply read the Word. You need to begin to let it saturate your heart and your mind. Many times the Holy Spirit will use the Word to guide you. This becomes so much easier if you actually have the Word in your heart.
3. Cultivate a posture of listening in prayer.
Don’t just run into prayer with your checklist in hand and pray, “Dear God, please help me here, bless this, bless that, protect them, help me have a good day. Amen.” Spend time listening. You may not hear anything, but it’s important to remember that prayer is designed as a dialogue with God, not a monologue.
4. Get still.Look at the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19 and you’ll see that God chose to speak to Elijah through a gentle whisper. God often chooses to speak through a still, small voice, not because He isn’t powerful enough to shout, but because He wants us to remove all the white noise and distractions from our lives and focus on Him. Find a time and a place to get quiet before God everyday. Get still, and you’ll be in a great position to hear God’s gentle whisper.
5. Practice discernment.
Practice makes perfect. Parents practice discernment every day with their young kids. It’s how they can tell when their child is ‘fake crying’ or ‘real crying.’ In the same way, we’ve been given a spirit of discernment that God wants us to use to help distinguish between God’s voice, the enemy, and our own thoughts. It takes discernment, and the only way to figure it out is to start practicing.
6. Seek wise counsel.
God doesn’t speak exclusively to you. He also speaks to those around you. The book of Proverbs talks a lot about the necessity of seeking wise counsel. When the Holy Spirit speaks to you, seek someone out (a spouse, a mentor, a parent) and get their input. Say something like, “I think the Holy Spirit is telling me to do this, am I crazy?” God many times affirms through the wise counsel of those around you.
7. Do the last thing you know God told you to do.
Continued revelation is tied to obedience. If you look in the book of Acts (the story of the early church), the Holy Spirit is all over the place. In fact, I would argue He’s the main character (the word “spirit” appears in the book of Acts 67 different times). The reason the Spirit is still leading and guiding the church in Acts 20 is because the church obeyed the Spirit when He led back in Acts 1-4. If God hasn’t spoken to you in years, perhaps it’s because you didn’t obey the last thing God told you to do, waiting for another option. When the Spirit speaks, it’s not meant as a suggestion, but as a command. If you want the Holy Spirit to continue to speak to you, obey Him when He does speak.
QUESTION: What other tips do you have for listening to the Holy Spirit?