This is a condensed version of the book by the same title written by Mark Virkler, with additional comments by Richard Mull. We have begun to work together on a number of projects including the God Speaks Bible. With a combined experience of over 45 years of teaching and ministering in the arena of hearing God’s voice we are excited to begin to share with others this most vital and essential facet of a relationship with God.
Any relationship that is worth anything is founded on communication. God still speaks today. It is our desire to help as many people as we can, to learn how to hear and to recognize God’s voice.
The age in which we live is so married to rationalism and cognitive, analytical thought that most people are tempted to scoff when we hear of someone claiming to actually be able to hear the voice of God. However, thoughtful people don’t mock, for several reasons.
First, throughout the Bible, men and women heard God’s voice. Their responses to that voice and the outcome of those responses prove that they actually DID hear God. Also, there are some highly effective and reputable men and women of God alive today who demonstrate that they hear God’s voice. Finally, there is a deep hunger within us all to commune with God, and to hear Him speak to us.
Mark: As a Bible-believing, born-again Christian, I struggled unsuccessfully for years to hear God’s voice. I prayed, fasted, studied my Bible and listened for a voice within, all to no avail. There was no inner voice that I could hear! Then God set me aside for a year to study, read, and experiment, specifically in the area of learning to hear God’s voice.
During that time, God taught me four keys that opened the door to two-way prayer. I have discovered that not only do they work for me, but they have worked for many thousands of Christians who have been taught to use them. Nearly all of those whom I have taught have broken through into two-way dialogue with God, bringing tremendous intimacy to their Christian experience and transforming their very way of living.
You can have that experience, too, as you seek God and learn to utilize the following four keys. They are all found in Habakkuk 2:1-2. I encourage you to read this passage before proceeding further.
Richard: I had two degrees, 7 years of Theological training and 12 years of pastoral experience, yet I was not certain that I had ever heard God’s voice. I knew that He spoke to me through the written Word, but I thought that God had only possibly spoken to me possibly 1 or 2 times in my entire life. Never in church, Bible College or Seminary had anyone taught me how to Hear God.
It wasn’t until someone came to me with a direct, miraculous, unmistakable word from God for me that I began to desperately long to hear God’s voice. I began to see how many people in scripture heard God speak to them and how often He spoke. In my quest, I began to hear God’s voice, to the point that I now hear Him every time I listen.
Over the years I began to teach others what I had learned, and eventually I began to write about hearing God. That led to the creation of The God Speaks Bible.
Key # 1—God’s voice in our hearts sounds like a flow of spontaneous thoughts. Therefore, when I tune to God, as I listen for His Spirit, I tune to spontaneity. My Spirit begins to receive what God is speaking to me.
The Bible says that the Lord answered me and said… (Hab. 2:2). Habakkuk knew the sound of God’s voice. The Bible describes it as a still, small voice (I Kings 19:12). I had always listened for an inner audible voice, and surely God can and does speak that way at times. However, I have found that for most of us, most of the time, God’s inner voice comes to us as spontaneous thoughts, visions, feelings, or impressions.
For example, haven’t each of us had the experience of driving down the road and having a thought come to us to pray for a certain person? We generally acknowledge this as the voice of God speaking to us to pray for that individual. My question to you is, “What did God’s voice sound like as you drove in your car? Was it an inner, audible voice, or was it a spontaneous thought that entered your mind?” Most of you would say that God’s voice came to you as a spontaneous thought.
So I thought to myself, “Maybe when I listen for God’s voice, I should be listening for a flow of spontaneous thoughts. Maybe spirit-level communication is received as spontaneous thoughts, impressions, feelings, and visions.” Through experimentation and feedback from thousands of others, I am now convinced that this is true.
The Bible confirms this theory in many ways. The definition of paga, the Hebrew word for intercession is “a chance encounter or an accidental intersecting”. Therefore, when God lays people on our hearts for intercession, He does it through paga, a chance encounter or thought intersecting our thought processes – seemingly accidentally, purely by chance. (Of course, we know that there are no accidents or chance encounters when God is involved.)
Therefore, when I tune to God, I tune to chance encounter thoughts or spontaneous thoughts. When I am poised quietly before God in prayer, I have found that the flow of spontaneous thoughts that comes is quite definitely from God.
Richard: For me, the journey to hearing God began after earning several theological degrees and spending years in ministry. I had been taught that God spoke through the written words of the Bible but not directly to individuals anymore. Throughout scripture I began to see a more personal God who answered people’s questions and gave specific directions. God began to reveal things to me in this same way over a few years time, as I began to listen for His voice.
I came to understand this truth; God speaks today, as God’s Spirit speaks to my spirit and my mind processes in thought what the Spirit of God was speaking to me. Just as you process what you are reading in your own voice. Alternately, if you heard me speaking to you, you would be processing what I say in your own mind and it would sound like your thoughts, your voice, even though they are my words.
Almost everyone has a preconceived idea of what God’s voice will sound like, but I’ve yet to meet a person who learns to hear God who says that God’s voice sounds like their preconceived idea. I’ve interviewed people for years and as soon as I ask what their preconceived idea of what God sounds like would be, they begin to chuckle and grin.
There are two voices that have come up almost everywhere: James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman. Some say Charlton Hesston or George Burns or even Jim Carey (God Forbid). Hollywood has done us a disservice in causing us to believe that when we hear God we’ll hear thunder rolling in the back ground, have some well dressed white haired old man show up and start talking, or that there will be a thunderous voice from heaven.
There are very few references to an audible voice from heaven in scripture but myriads of people heard God speak to them. I believe that it is usually in the still small voice that our mind perceives; the voice that Mark says comes to us as flowing thought.
Key # 2—I must learn to quiet my own thoughts and emotions, so that I can sense God’s flow of thoughts and emotions within me. Habakkuk said, “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart…” (Hab. 2:1). Habakkuk knew that in order to hear God’s quiet inner, spontaneous thoughts, he had to first go to a quiet place and still his own thoughts and emotions.
Psalm 46:10 encourages us to “Be still, and know that I am God.” There is a deep inner knowing (spontaneous flow) in our spirits that each of us can experience when we quiet our flesh and our minds.
I have found several simple ways to quiet myself so that I can more readily detect God’s spontaneous flow. Loving God through a quiet worship song is a most effective means for many (note II Kings 3:15). It is when I become still (thoughts, will, and emotions) and I am poised before God that the divine flow is realized. Therefore, after I worship quietly and become still, I open myself for that spontaneous flow.
If thoughts come to me of things that I have forgotten to do, I write them down and then dismiss them. If thoughts of guilt or unworthiness come to my mind, I repent thoroughly, receive the washing of the blood of the Lamb, and put on His robe of righteousness, seeing myself spotless before the presence of God (Col. 1:22).
As I fix my gaze upon Jesus (Heb. 12:2), becoming quiet in His presence, and sharing with Him what is on my heart, I find that two-way dialogue begins to flow. Spontaneous thoughts flow from the throne of God to me, and I find that I am actually conversing with the King of Kings.
It is very important that you become still and properly focused if you are going to receive the pure word of God. If you are not still, you will simply be receiving your own thoughts. If you are not properly focused on Jesus, you will receive an impure flow, because the intuitive flow comes out of that upon which you have fixed your eyes. Therefore, when you fix your eyes upon Jesus, the intuitive flow comes from Him.
If you fix your gaze upon some desire of your heart, the intuitive flow comes out of that desire. To have a pure flow you must first of all become still, and secondly, you must carefully fix your eyes upon Jesus. Again I will say that this is quite easily accomplished by quietly worshiping the King, and then receiving from Him out of the stillness that follows.
Richard: Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit communicates the deep things of God to us. (1 Corinthians 2:9-16, John 16:12-15) How does His Spirit speak to us? Is it by an audible voice? Or does the message come directly to our spirit, our mind, our heart and our emotions? It makes sense that when God’s Spirit speaks to us we would process what He is saying in our mind or ponder it in our heart.
God wants us to hear Him and to find Him (Isaiah 55:6-11). It is not hard to hear God. First, wait for His voice (Habakkuk 2:1-2). You can hear His voice (John 10:27). He promises to answer when you call (Psalm 91:15).
Prepare your heart to receive what The Spirit is going to speak to you. I find that God can speak to me anywhere, but stillness and quiet help me to focus. One time I was in a loud youth event and couldn’t hear myself, even if I shouted. God’s still small voice was just as loud, and He didn’t have to shout.
I was surprised because I thought I needed it quiet to hear God’s voice. At the same time, if I have a sports game on, my wife can be talking to me and I don’t hear her, not because her voice isn’t loud enough but because my attention is on something else. It is best to be undistracted when we listen to God. The details can be different for different people, but the principles are the same.
Key # 3 — As I pray, I fix the eyes of my heart upon Jesus, seeing in the spirit the dreams and visions of Almighty God. We have already alluded to this principle in the previous paragraphs; however, we need to develop it a bit further. Habakkuk said, “I will keep watch to see,” and God said, “Record the vision” (Hab. 2: 1-2). It is important for us to notice that Habakkuk was going to actually start looking for vision as he prayed. He was going to open the eyes of his heart, and look into the spirit world to see what God wanted to show him. This is an intriguing idea.
I had never thought of opening the eyes of my heart and looking for vision. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is exactly what God intends for me to do. He gave me eyes in my heart. They are to be used to see in the spirit world the vision and movement of Almighty God.
I believe there is an active spirit world functioning all around us. This world is full of angels, demons, and the omnipresent Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is no reason for me not to see it, other than my rational culture, which tells me not to believe it is even there, and provides no instruction on how to become open to seeing this spirit world.
The most obvious prerequisite to seeing is that we need to look. Daniel was seeing a vision in his mind and he said, “I was looking… I kept looking… I kept looking” (Dan. 7:2, 9,13). Now as I pray, I look for Jesus, knowing that He is present with me, and I watch Him as He speaks to me, doing and saying the things that are on His heart.
Many Christians will find that if they will only look, they will see. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us (Matt. 1:23). It is as simple as that. You will see a spontaneous inner vision in a manner similar to the ways you receive spontaneous inner thoughts. You can see Christ present with you in a comfortable setting, because Christ is present with you in a comfortable setting.
Actually, you will discover that inner vision comes so easily that you will have a tendency to reject it, thinking it is just you. (Remember: Doubt is Satan’s most effective weapon against the Church.) However, if you will persist in recording the visions that
God’s Spirit gives to you, your doubt will soon be overcome by faith. You will recognize that the content of those visions could only be birthed in Almighty God. God continually revealed Himself to His covenant people using dream and vision (Num. 12:6). He did so from Genesis to Revelation and said that, since the Holy Spirit was poured out in Acts 2, we should expect to receive a continuing flow of dreams and visions (Acts 2:1-4, 17).
Jesus, our perfect Example, demonstrated this ability of living out of ongoing contact with Almighty God. He said that He did nothing on His own initiative, but only that which he saw the Father doing, and heard the Father saying (Jn. 5:19,20,30). What an incredible way to live!
Is it actually possible for us to live out of the divine initiative as Jesus did? At Jesus’ death the veil was torn from top to bottom, giving us access into the immediate presence of God, and we are commanded to draw near (Heb. l0:19-22). Therefore, even though what I am describing seems a bit unusual to a rational twenty first century culture, it is demonstrated and described as being a central biblical teaching and experience. It is time to restore to the Church everything that belongs to the Church.
Because of their intensely rational nature and existence in an overly rational culture, some folks will need more assistance and understanding of these truths before they can move into them. They will find help for this in the book Communion With God by the Mark Virkler or God Speaks – Learning to Hear God by Richard Mull. Richard: For many years I had tried to hear God speaking to me. What bothered me the most was that I would get all kinds of pictures in my mind; all sorts of thoughts about God, and about many other things. I was waiting for the deep resonant voice and was bothered by the images and thoughts. I didn’t understand that I had a human spirit. When I finally understood that the pictures in my mind were visions from God it was life transforming.
God said to Jeremiah several times, “What do you see?” and Jeremiah would tell God what he saw and then God would give him the interpretation (Jeremiah 1:11, 1:13, 24:3) He did the same for Amos and Zechariah in Amos 7:8; 8:2 and Zechariah 4:2 & 5:2) God gave visions and dreams to people all throughout the Bible.
Write down what you see. Ask God what it means.
Key # 4—Journaling, the writing out of our prayers and God’s answers, provides a great new freedom in hearing God’s voice. God told Habakkuk to record the vision and inscribe it on tablets… (Hab. 2:2). It had never crossed my mind to write out my prayers and God’s answers as Habakkuk did. Actually, this was commanded by God.
If you begin to search Scripture for this idea, you will find hundreds of chapters demonstrating it (Psalms, the prophets, Revelation). Why then hadn’t I ever thought of it?
I decided to call the process “journaling,” and I began experimenting with it. I discovered it was a fabulous facilitator to clearly discerning God’s inner, spontaneous flow, because as I journalled I was able to write in faith for long periods of time, simply believing it was God. I did not have to test it as I was receiving it (which jams the receiver), because I knew that when the flow was over I could go back and test and examine it carefully at that time, making sure that it was consistent with Scripture.
You will be amazed when you first begin journaling. Doubt may hinder you at first, but throw it off. Remind yourself that it is a biblical concept, that God is present, speaking to His children. Don’t take yourself too seriously. When you do, you become tense and get in the way of the Holy Spirit’s movement. It is when we cease our labors and enter His rest that God’s voice is free to flow (Heb. 4: 10).
Therefore, put a smile on your face, sit back comfortably, get out your pen and paper, and turn your attention toward God in praise and worship, seeking His face. As you write out your question to God and become still, fixing your gaze on Jesus, who is present with you, you will suddenly have a very good thought in response to your question.
Don’t doubt it, simply write it down. Later as you go over your journaling, you, too, will be amazed to discover that you are indeed engaging in dialogue with God.
Some final notes: No one should attempt to do this without having first read through at least the New Testament (preferably, the entire Bible), nor should one attempt this unless he is submitted to solid, spiritual leadership. All major directional moves that come through journaling should be submitted before being acted upon.
Richard: I tell people, “Don’t censure what comes to your mind when you are writing, just write. Later discern if it is from God, from the enemy, or from your own mind.” Too often people get stuck writing something down, trying to figure out if it is God or just their own thoughts and become distracted. When that happens, the contact is broken.
In personal ministry I tell everyone to listen and write. We take authority over the enemy, pray against our own vain imagination controlling our thoughts, and then we listen. I ask people to write out everything. One young woman first wrote, “Get away from these people, they are going to hurt you and they don’t know what they are talking about.”
I thanked her for writing everything down and being honest. Then I asked her if that was all. She said, “No”, and said that next she wrote, “Don’t listen to the other voice, I am here, I will heal you, and I love you.” I asked her where the first thing she wrote down came from, and she said, “From the demons that have tormented me my whole life.” Then I asked what she attributed the next thing she heard to. She immediately said, “God”, and she further said that she had heard Him also but tended to listen to the enemy. Soon, she was only hearing God and was free.
If you have disturbing thoughts when you listen or if you see disturbing visions you may need help to find freedom from the enemy. You can begin though, on your own, by asking Christ to come in and be Lord of your life, confessing all known sin, forgiving all who have hurt you and wronged you and renouncing the voice of the enemy.
Ask God to speak to you, open your ears and be sure to journal what He begins to say to you. If you still struggle, contact a healing ministry that can help you get rid of the enemies’ voices and find healing in your body, soul and spirit.