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Hearing God's Voice

Most people today believe that actually hearing God’s voice is something that happened for the Old Testament prophets, the Apostles, the early Church fathers, and probably by the Popes down the ages to our current Benedict XVI. It couldn’t possibly be happening today and certainly not to the common lay person. Or can it?

I have been hearing God’s voice all of my life, but then so have you! My daughter hears His voice which such clarity that I can only envy. I met a young woman at my Florida parish who heard His voice and told everyone as if it were an everyday occurrence — which it truly is. She actually is the person who gave me the courage to begin telling people, as well.

Though not everyone hears God’s voice as I refer to in the above paragraph, He does speak to you all the time. You just don’t realize it:

  • How often have you known something was on “the tip of your tongue”, but you just couldn’t recall it; then, suddenly, out of nowhere, you remember it? That’s God giving you the information. He spoke to you to do it.

  • Have you ever had a situation, positive or negative, that needed a solution or idea to resolve; then, it’s like someone put the answer into your head? That’s God speaking to you.

  • How often have you had a “sudden brainstorm” with a cool and doable idea, sometimes it’s just a spark or the complete concept, that improves your life or that of someone else’s? That’s God helping you.

  • Have you ever thought about something you know you shouldn’t do; then suddenly the thought “You shouldn’t do that because ...” pops into your head? People say it’s their conscience speaking to them. Hate to burst the well-worn bubble of tradition, but It’s God cautioning you to stay on the path of good.

  • At other times, when He sees that He is not getting through to you, He’ll even send other people or situations to get His message to you.

There are other ways that God speaks to you (by taking your attention to watch a specific TV show or read a specific book/article or take a specific spiritual course/workshop, and so on), but the above are the most often used and least understood. So, the next time one of the above examples happens to you, take a moment to return the hello to God AND thank Him for loving and caring about you so much.

You Can Hear God's Voice
To actually hear God’s voice takes some work on your part. Though God has the ability to just say something out loud to you, He seldom moves beyond gentle nudgings. What makes it hard to hear His still small voice in your head is due to several factors:

  1. You have so many thoughts rumbling around in your head, it’s difficult to hear God’s voice. You can relieve some of this by learning to meditate (i.e. on the rosary or a scripture passage). Then, after learning to control your thoughts through meditation, move on to contemplation — sit or lay very still and quiet, emptying your mind of all thoughts of your world and responsibilities, and just be with God.

  2. Even once you calm your thoughts, most people think God’s voice is their own thoughts. The only true method of knowing the difference is to know yourself extremely well. That takes time and lots of effort and courage — you have to know the good about you, as well as all of your faults (which is what most people don’t wish to know). The point is that you need to know how you think in order to know if a thought is yours or belongs to someone else. Even a small effort and accomplishment in this area helps.

Even without doing the second step, just meditating allows God an opening. Look at this actual situation:

On the last day of a Catholic workshop, a participant stated that he had prayed the Rosary daily for over a year. All he ever asked for was to hear the voice of God — just once. It was evident during his explanation that this was very upsetting for him. The priest giving the workshop didn’t have an answer for him, nor did anyone else.

When the class had ended, I went to the man, who was still sitting, and knelt next to him. Some people held back to see what I would say, expecting to possibly join me in praying with the distraught man.

Instead, I asked him, “When you pray the Rosary, what do you see in your mind?”

Surprised at the question, the man's face softened and he answered, “The face of the Virgin Mary. She’s always smiling.”

“And do you have a particular devotion to the Virgin Mary?”

“Yes, I do. Why?” asked the man, who now was curious.

I broke into a wide smile and said, “This is God’s way of saying ‘hello’ to you!”

The man broke down in tears, as did many around him.

After he composed himself, I explained that it takes truly knowing yourself inside and out to be able to differentiate your thought patterns from the “voice” of God. Therefore, God usually begins speaking to you in images. For this man, God used something very special to him to let him know He was there and listening.

Once you have this first awareness that God is responding to you, you’ll begin to get many more images (visions). So, pay attention to what you “see” within your mind during your meditation or contemplation. Sometimes, the visions move so fast and there are so many that you can’t remember them all after the meditation, but let them flow. Once you begin trying to remember, you engage your brain and the visions stop. Just pay close attention to what you “see”. Then, say hello to God and thank Him.

by Patricia Hawke
Copyright 2007, Patricia Hawke

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