When someone wants to speak to you intimately, he or she often whispers. And when someone is whispering, you have to lean in closer to hear. God speaks to His people in many ways, but what if He is whispering to you because He wants you to draw closer to Him and listen?
James 4:8 tells us, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…”
In his book Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God, Mark Batterson, a prolific author and the pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., describes ways God speaks and how you can listen to Him.
Batterson lists seven languages that God uses to get your attention: “The first language is Scripture, and it’s the Rosetta Stone. The other six languages we’ll look at are secondary languages: desires, doors, dreams, promptings, people, and pain” (22).
This emphasis on different languages highlights the fact that most people are not particularly attuned to hearing God’s voice. And people are not all accustomed to hearing it in the same way. Pointing out each of these ways helps us see where God might be speaking. Hearing God is Step 1 in our You Are Created for Good Works framework. Let’s look at each of these languages from Whisper in more detail:
- Scripture: “The surest way to get into the presence of God is to get into the Word of God. It changes the way we think, the way we feel, the way we live, and the way we love “(Whisper 73).
- Desires: “If you don’t know what you want, how are you going to know when you get it?” (92) Looking to Genesis’s account of God creating the world, Batterson writes, “God delights in what He does, and He wants nothing less for us. He wants us to delight in His creation. He wants us to delight in one another. And above all, He wants us to delight ourselves in Him” (79)
- Doors: God may open some doors and close others. Either way, this is a way of God communicating His will to us. “One of His dialects is doors: open doors and closed doors. In a sense, this third language is sign language. Jesus warned against signs and wonders serving as the litmus test of faith, but that doesn’t negate their value when it comes to navigating the will of God” (97).
- Dreams: “If there is a biblical precedent for God speaking through dreams, why wouldn’t we pray for the same experience? Maybe we have not because we ask not” (123). God gave people dreams throughout the Bible; He can give dreams to each of us. God often speaks through dreams to show us, warn us, and encourage us. And, “Nothing keeps us on our knees like God-sized dreams” (127).
- Promptings: “When God prompts you to pray, pray. When God prompts you to serve, serve. When God prompts you to give, give. God is setting you up, but you have to obey the prompting. And your obedience — whether it’s praying, serving, or giving — might just be somebody else’s miracle” (162).
- People: “We all have a cloud of witnesses, and that cloud consists of anybody and everybody who has influenced our lives. It’s our family and friends, coaches and teachers, and pastors and authors. To believe that any of those people are in our lives by happenstance is to grossly underestimate the sovereignty of God. He wants to use them to speak into our lives, and He wants to use us to speak into theirs” (131).
- Pain: You’ll “learn to discern God’s loving voice in the midst of the pain. Is there a lesson He is trying to teach you? Is there some part of your character that can’t be cultivated any other way?” (173).
Looking at this list of languages, how has God spoken to you in the past? Think about which one of these languages you might start being more attuned to in the future.
I’d encourage you to take a moment to pray and ask God to speak to you in whatever language He needs to to get your attention. Ask Him to help you see and hear His calling.
Much like last week’s blog post on The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer, these points from Whisper only scratch the surface of what Batterson writes about listening to God. Batterson is a wonderful storyteller and has some great illustrations to flesh out the points he makes that you won’t want to miss. And ultimately, as Batterson says, Scripture is our Rosetta Stone that helps us make sense of everything else. So, if you’re looking to hear God clearly, I’d encourage you to start with reading His Word and listening for His still, small voice.
All quotations are from Batterson, Mark. Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God. Multnomah, 2017.
Laura Miller works for Crossroads Career as a writer and editor, and lives in the Kansas City area with her accountant husband. Laura hosts and produces The Library Laura Podcast, which is a weekly dose of book recommendations, library love, and literary enthusiasm. She also runs the Crossroads Career Podcast, with new episodes every two weeks to encourage you in your career journey. Previously, she worked in the insurance and retail industries.