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Discerning the voice of the Lord

We need to refine our ability to discern God’s voice. Because we are so unfamiliar with it, we struggle to recognize it at first. We may experience more failure than success. Yet we must struggle to grow. To shrink from failure is to remain immature in our faith. So,…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

We need to refine our
ability to discern God’s voice. Because
we are so unfamiliar with it, we struggle to recognize it at first.

We may experience more failure than success.
Yet we must struggle to grow. To shrink
from failure is to remain immature in our faith.

So, as we listen for God, we
recognize that some other foolish thing is likely to pop into our minds
instead. We acknowledge that it may seem impossible to distinguish the foolish
or fleshly from the God-initiated. We
try to deal with this problem by sharing with others the impressions we
receive, judging them against what God does subsequently and in view of the

In some cases, there may be
no correlation between what you thought God was saying and what actually
happens. However, in other cases, the
specificity of what you have been shown in prayer lines up so well with what
God does, there can be no doubt that God has spoken to you. When you see that God actually did speak, not
only does your faith in him grow, but your faith in your own ability to hear
grows as well.

Because we can be so fallible
in our hearing, one moment interpreting our stray thoughts as directives and
the next writing off the Holy Spirit’s promptings, we need to start paying
attention to our thought life. To grow
in this skill of distinguishing between your impressions of God’s voice and
your own thoughts, you have to take some risks.
It’s like riding a bicycle. You
have to be willing to take a few falls in order to master it. You have to be willing to say, ‘These may
just be my own thoughts and not God speaking, but this is the impression I

We learn by taking risks – no risks, no
increasing of your trust. No trust, no ‘getting on the bicycle.’ No getting on
the bicycle, no progress.

Comments (6)

  • ya, i guess it very important for every child to here his fathers voice this junction has confuss more christians to frustration in there walk with their father, i also iam greatly learnig to get to a point of seriuos accuracy of knowing his voice and inner prompting,i belive God will lead his people to know him

  • i always confuse my own thoughts during prayer time as God’s leading and end up making mistakes. i keep on seeking for answers that i end up answering them myself and telling myself it must be from God. Sometimes it really seem to be from Him but sometimes i make mistakes and it kinda frustrates me. Scripture says that Jesus’ sheep will know His voice and i dunno why i can’t discern His voice. I hope one day ill understand.

  • One of the issues I’ve been having with discerning between my own thoughts and the Lord’s has been more in concerns with my future or the state of others while I pray.
    If I’m asking for some help and direction for my own future in His life, it’s difficult to figure out what I might be led to.
    For now I’m just working on trusting in Him that where ever I need to be He will lead me and any of my personal needs will be more than met through my life with Christ. It’s a “day at a time” process that a lot of us (including me) have a hard time accepting. We don’t know our own fate but He does and we need to trust that He will lead us in the right direction as long as we are following His word and seeking Him.
    As for praying for others I have to trust in God that if there is anything else that I need to do to help them He will let that be known and in the meantime I just need to continue in my prayers for them.
    A lot of the time I will actually pray that He will take away any personal feelings I might have about a situation and speak to me of his thoughts. Times when I feel there is an urgency to act, I pray and the Spirit will tell me other wise by taking away a burden I have caused by my own feelings or concerns.

  • Lindsey, God is speaking to you. Sometimes we need the help of others along w/ Scripture to confirm what we perceive may be his voice.

  • Hey Seth,
    Thanks for the response. I know He has been talking to me lately about some things, especially concerning the gifts of the Spirit and how many Christians have a watered down view of them or don’t fully realize the authority that we are given through Christ to utilize them, bringing others to Christ, to grow the church.
    I’ve had quite a burden about this, as well as my own personal experiences with spiritual warfare and/or harassment, which I’ve had a hard time sharing with most people in my church. I’m typically selective with things of this nature as I don’t want to get a group wound up or everyone to suddenly think I’m reaching out with wrong intentions, but at the same time there’s such a lack of talk about it in general with the churches I’ve been to and the Christians I’ve met throughout my life that it can be discouraging and confusing at times. I do have a small group of people that I trust that I discuss things with to help gain some clarity on some issues and I’m hoping to form a prayer group with them soon.
    At this point I just have to trust in the Lord to guide me through whatever it is He has planned in all of this. I would appreciate your prayers while I dig deeper into His Word as I feel His active hand on me on these matters. I’m also working on writing about some of this as I go along so I can help others in any way possible if they happen to stumble upon it, finding answers or support isn’t always readily available on such topics from trusted sources.
    I thought I saw a post of yours concerning spiritual warfare with some links to books you suggested to read.. I can’t seem to find that post for some reason. If you could direct me to it that would be greatly appreciated!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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