How can I hear the voice of God and not make mistakes?
God wants you to hear him (Part 1)
Jesus often spoke these words when he was teaching; "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." He knew that not everyone had such ears. Some people both then and today have their ears stopped up because they don't want to hear the truth. Some are hard of hearing because of sin and some have grown dull of hearing because they have listened too long to the sounds of the world. The voice of God is a dim far away sound to many people.
Asking how you can hear the voice of God is a very good question because it means you want to hear and that indicates that the Holy Spirit is alive and well inside you. I believe this question is the one most asked in the Christian walk. As Christians, we surrender our life to serve one whom we do not see in the physical realm since Jesus returned to heaven. How can we serve Christ and do his bidding if we can't hear what he wants us to do?
The answer is that we can hear him. Jesus himself said; "…and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." (John 10:4-5) Taking hold of this promise is the first step in unclogging those waxy ears. We can boldly proclaim; "I serve the Good Shepherd so I know his voice!"
God is not withholding from us, trying to confuse us or laughing at us as we strain to hear his voice. If we are having a tough time, maybe he is encouraging us to press in a little closer or tune into a new frequency. But be assured - he wants you to hear him.
Next: How can we avoid mistakes in hearing God's voice?
Mistakes and how to take them (Part 2)
I'm reminded of the story of Thomas Edison and all the false tries he made when inventing the light bulb. When asked why he kept trying after so many failures, his answer showed he saw things from a different perspective. He never saw those failed attempts as mistakes; he felt that each one eliminated a solution that wasn't right. He was learning much from each so called mistake. We can too.
Making a mistake in hearing God's voice holds a wealth of knowledge for each one of us. So often afterward we can more clearly see how we went astray. Did we want a certain solution so badly we put words in God's mouth? Did we neglect the place of prayer and the study of God's Word to enable us to hear clearly? Did we overlook all the closed doors or circumstantial signs that now seem so obvious? Did we stand on foolishness instead of faith?
Beyond all that, most seasoned believers have some mystery mistakes. In other words, everything seemed to indicate God was saying one thing but something entirely different came out. I have more than a few of that kind myself. But so what? God is working everything for good in our life - even our mistakes in hearing him. And how do we know what the ultimate outcome will be? It's not over till it's over.
So I guess the truthful answer to the question above is that we can't avoid mistakes in hearing God's voice 100% of the time but that is not the end of the world. As we mull events in our life from a greater distance we may see things we didn't see (or hear) before and we may end up concluding it wasn't a mistake after all.
Next: Can I increase my ability to hear clearly?
The best ways to hear clearly (Part 3)
We can definitely improve our hearing as we travel along in God's kingdom. Time and experience give us an advantage in not making the same mistake twice. But even a new believer can improve their hearing skills.
Adhering to God's Word - The Bible is our standard and every part of our life should be examined in light of it. When we make decisions, we need to first discover what God's Word says about it, if anything. God will never direct us to commit sin or to do anything contrary to his Word. His voice inside of us will never countermand scripture.
Prayer - A consistent prayer life will tune us into the voice of God. Prayer is a two way street. We speak to God and he speaks to us. Sometimes that is in a still small voice, sometimes through illumination from the Word, sometimes we have a sense or impression about what God is speaking to us and it is even possible to hear the audible voice of God. Just keep praying and seeking that place of intimacy where you can hear even a whisper.
Honesty - It might seem like a strange thing to recommend in hearing God's voice but a humble condition of honesty clears the way to sharpen our hearing. We all have blind spots and we are all filled with self interest and impure motives. Be honest with God, he knows it all anyway. Be willing to have your bad motives exposed and your heart purified.
Seek Godly counsel - If you think you have heard something from God, submit that to those with spiritual authority over you and see what they think. Does their counsel confirm what you have heard? If those around you are troubled a red flag should go up; God isn't going to give opposing answers to the same question. Someone is wrong; stop and pray more to discover if it is you.
Be patient - If you feel rushed and pressed in a matter, it probably isn't coming from God. Have you noticed how slow God often seems? We want to hear NOW and he has a timing and a plan. Take enough time to pray and seek direction and receive advice before acting on what you believe is God's voice.
You may want to read some companion articles I have in the Cupboard which provides additional insight into hearing God's voice. See Fasting-Clearing the Fog, Tuning into God's Frequency, and Hearing God's voice through dreams.