How can I tell when God is trying to tell me something?

Whether your searching for a new job, trying to find someone to marry, or have any other decision to make, learning to recognize to God’s voice is crucial. We also yearn to have a connection to our heavenly home and hear God speaking to us more frequently. Here are 4 ways we can increase our spiritual capacity to receive revelation.

  1. Be intentional about creating Time and Space to Hear God’s Voice
  2. Act without Delay
  3. Get Your Errand from the Lord
  4. Believe and Trust

Before we jump into these 4 sections. Let’s answer some basic questions

Does God want to speak to speak to us personally?

My personal experience

I was about 14 years old and feeling the stress common to teenagers. I remember the feeling overwhelmed as I tried to navigate my way through the new high school drama. One late night at the school, I found myself secluded behind the gym in a little hallway. I began to pour out my heart to God, letting Him know my frustrations and challenges. Yet- it felt as if no one was there listening. I felt alone.

“Heavenly Father,” I asked “Are you really there?”

There came an immensely powerful feeling that is beyond description. I am unable to recreate it myself no matter what I do. I knew it wasn’t my own feelings- they so starkly contrasted the feelings and thoughts I was just having. It came from on High and filled me with a Peace and love I had never experienced to that extent before. My thoughts, feelings, and very being seemed to be transformed in this spiritual embrace. While there weren’t any words spoken nor things seen, I left that little hallway without a doubt- God Lives. He loves me. And He knows me…

God is our eternal Father. “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”

He loves us. He wants to commune with us. He is our Father and we are His children.

How can we communicate with Him?

“As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings. (Reference)

Think of that. Prayer happens when we have these in
alignment

  1. We know our true relationship with God- that He is our loving Father
  2. Our will is brought into correspondence with His Will

So prayer isn’t so much about us getting God to change our circumstances As it is about changing ourselves to what He wants.

How can I tell if it’s my own thoughts or the Holy Ghost?

All good things come from Christ. If it is a good thing- act on it. Never suppress a generous or kind thought. If you aren’t sure, act on it. God will not allow you to make any serious mistake before warning you. If you are trying to follow Him, good things will come.

May 12, 2015 Face to Face with Elder and Sister Bednar
Worldwide Youth Event

I find it helpful to study the words of Christ in the scriptures. The more familiar we become with his words, the easier it is to distinguish His voice from our own.

Wherefore, I said unto you, bfeast upon the cwords of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will dtell you all things what ye should do.

2 Nephi 32:3

Here are the 4 principles that will help you to hear God’s voice more frequently in your own life.

1. Be intentional about creating Time and Space to Hear God’s Voice

Distractions and noise are two of the primary reasons we are unable to hear God speaking to us. Try blocking out all distractions in your life and set aside time to really listen as you pray. I regularly set aside at least 25 minutes each night to ponder and speak with the Lord through prayer. It started years ago when someone invited to me to just try praying for at least 5 minutes at night. At first it was difficult, but as I began to listen better, I started to have conversations with the Lord.

The invitation to pray unto the Father in the name of Jesus Christ is the most mentioned commandment in all scripture. “To pray is to speak with God, the Eternal Father of our spirits—not at Him but with Him.” I remember reading those exact words several years ago. It struck me to the core. When I pray, I am actually talking to someone. Not just at someone. I had been praying as if I was sending an email of things I was grateful for and things I thought I needed. I reflected on this phrase many times. “To pray is to speak WITH God” I came to this realization- if He’s really my Father and loves me perfectly, then prayer is a conversation where BOTH of us must communicate.

I remember distinctly the day I knelt down and began a prayer with this intent. This time trying to pray as it were a conversation with someone. I invisioned in my mind my loving Father in Heaven listening, ready to respond. and I believed He would indeed respond.

“Father,” I waited for a period of time listening, believing, waiting. Sure enough an impression came, He was there listening. I could in reality feel it. I continued the prayer in an oh so careful manner. Rather than rattling off whatever I wanted, I was searching for “What does He want me to pray for?” As thoughts would come to my mind, I would pray for these things. Waiting as you would speaking to a close friend. I felt the Lord responding, even speaking with me. It was a still and small voice that entered into my mind and I could feel it come from him. It’s a higher communication than the audible ones we have with each other. It was spirit to spirit. Mine to the Holy Ghost.

So when you pray. Expect a conversation. Yield yourself to His will and pray for the things which He wants- and you’ll find answers.

When I pray at night, I keep a notebook and pen with me. As thoughts and feelings come to my mind, I write them down. To show God that I value what it is I’m feeling.

2. Act without Delay

Lessons learned from Thomas S. Monson

After failing to heed a prompting, young Bishop Thomas S. Monson learned to never ignore the Spirit.

Here’s the second story from the Life of Thomas S. Monson

“Stan, a dear friend of mine, was taken seriously ill and rendered partially paralyzed. He had been robust in health, athletic in build, and active in many pursuits. Now he was unable to walk or to stand. His wheelchair was his home. The finest of physicians had cared for him, and the prayers of family and friends had been offered in a spirit of hope and trust. Yet Stan continued to lie in the confinement of his bed at the university hospital. He despaired.

Late one afternoon I was swimming at the Deseret Gym, gazing at the ceiling while backstroking width after width. Silently, but ever so clearly, there came to my mind the thought: “Here you swim almost effortlessly, while your friend Stan languishes in his hospital bed, unable to move.” I felt the prompting: “Get to the hospital and give him a blessing.”

I ceased my swimming, dressed, and hurried to Stan’s room at the hospital. His bed was empty. A nurse said he was in his wheelchair at the swimming pool, preparing for therapy. I hurried to the area, and there was Stan, all alone, at the edge of the deeper portion of the pool. We greeted one another and returned to his room, where a priesthood blessing was provided.

Slowly but surely, strength and movement returned to Stan’s legs. First he could stand on faltering feet. Then he learned once again to walk—step by step. Today one would not know that Stan had lain so close to death and with no hope of recovery.

Frequently Stan speaks in Church meetings and tells of the goodness of the Lord to him. To some he reveals the dark thoughts of depression which engulfed him that afternoon as he sat in his wheelchair at the edge of the pool, sentenced, it seemed, to a life of despair. He tells how he pondered the alternative. It would be so easy to propel the hated wheelchair into the silent water of the deep pool. Life would then be over. But at that precise moment he saw me, his friend. That day Stan learned literally that we do not walk alone. I, too, learned a lesson that day: Never, never, never postpone following a prompting.”

3. Get your Errand From the Lord

Unexpected Lessons Learned from a Goldfish

I was getting ready for work one morning and I had a very
strange thought come into my head.

“If you got up early and did yardwork, you’d be a happy
man.”

Now I thought that impression was odd. Was it the Lord speaking to me or just my own thoughts? I wasn’t sure- but I knew I had no desire to get up early to do yardwork or be a happy man doing so. 😊 A happy gardening man in the early morning was not who I wanted to become.

 I pushed it off and I
drove to work. I didn’t have time that morning to experiment it.

Then later that week, I had the same thought reoccur. Once again it came as I was getting ready and rushing out the door for work.

“If you go up early and did yardwork, you’d be a happy man.”

It was about this time my wife brought up the idea that we should get a goldfish. She had been reading in a magazine about how pets are good for children because it teaches them responsibility. So she recommended that we should get a goldfish because she believed that they would be the easiest pet that we could probably have that would still teach your daughters responsibility. We could feed him every day, clean his tank, and watch him live in this little bowl. I was OK with the idea and thought goldfish are fairly inexpensive. Before this occasion she had been asking for a cow and then a goat. So a goldfish was kind of a relief to me.

I am always really supportive of my wife and her ideas. I trust her completely, even If I don’t fully understand. Like getting a goat or a cow- but I’m sure we will still get one soon.

We were at the Eastern Idaho state fair, when we ran into somebody who had just won a goldfish. My wife commented “Where did you get that goldfish? We really want a goldfish!”

“Really? Here you can have it. I was never going to feed him or anything.” The girl responded.

My wife excitedly showed our family our new found pet. He was about half an inch long and laying on the bottom of a small container. He didn’t look like he was doing too well.

On the way home it was decided to get him into a bigger bowl. So a stop was made at Walmart. I asked Kristiana what size the bowl needed to be, and if we had to get goldfish food.

She began googling and the results she found came as a shock to us.

“A large tank. Remember, commonly bought goldfish grow to about 10-12 inches in length.”

Wait what?- I had no idea

“Sometimes they may even get bigger! The smallest size tank you can get away with is about a 20 gallon tank. For each additional goldfish you’ll need to add an additional 10 gallons”

A 20 gallon tank! Now were talking over $100 that I didn’t have. For a 25 cent goldfish given to us for free- and was likely to die that night. But Kristiana didn’t see it that way, this is bigger than just the goldfish. This is a creature God has delivered to us to take care of and teach our young daughters in the process.

Despite my reservations, I committed to do what we could to take care of the goldfish. I purchased some fishfood, but not the tank. When we went home, that night I place him in the largest bowl we had. I promised to purchase a tank next pay day.

The next morning the goldfish was still alive and I negotiated with my wife to a 10 gallon fish tank for the little guy. If he’s growing to be a foot long, once he’s aout 4 inches long, I’ll migriate him to the bigger tank.

I arrived home with my new tank, filter, and lights. But it was good enough. Apparently he needed some fancy decorations. The budget was so tight- I had only a couple dollars to it work. “Too the dollar store!” I purchased some rocks- that didn’t quite cover the bottom of his tank, and found a door nob laying around which I attached a little plastic tree too. It was sad decorations. But the Fish received a name- Fish Henry.

I was attending a young men’s meeting and the young men’s president said something that changed my life. “When we have a thought that comes to our head to do something. Then we think it’s a dumb thought. Perhaps we are the ones who are dumb. God doesn’t need to tell us things that we are already think or are going to do. Because we will already are going to do those things. So when you have an initial thought, don’t just push it off. Consider if it is good and comes from God.”

These thoughts will be contrary to our own thoughts. Most of the time, these thoughts will require us to change. Not just our behavior, but our nature. As I reflected on his words, I remember that obscure phrase. “If you got up early in the morning, and did yard work, you’d be a happy man.” The Lord wasn’t just asking me to pick up some sticks before work. He was asking me to really change. Become someone who arises early and works hard in the yard, and takes joy in it. Someone I currently was not.

I came home and went to bed. The next morning I woke up early and prayed “Lord, what would you like to do in the yard this morning.” There came a distinct impression. “Build a pond.”

I searched over YouTube for videos of people making their own ponds. I then started the process of digging my own – 10 foot long 6 foot wide pond. I every morning. Hitting mostly those Idaho rocks. It was early, it rained, then snowed, and the neighbor’s dog consistently was barking at me. But every morning I joyfully went out and dug for weeks. As I was digging, I was listening. More impressions and feelings came. I began to change. My life began to change as I was laboring out there. The days went better and I gained spiritual wisdom in many other aspects of life. Indeed, I was a happy man. It wasn’t about building the pond- it was about building me.

As I was finishing the pond that winter. Fish Henry died.

I was shocked and crushed. I buried him his little body in his massive 1000 gallon pond.

While the pond didn’t reach it’s final destination, I believed that I did. I was now more receptive to the Spirit and following what the Lord asked of me. Soon after came more impressions for me to follow. Move to Utah Quit your job. Sell the house. Move in with your inlaws. Start a blog.

As we follow the Lord, it may be uphill and challenging. But he takes us to new heights we never thought possible Get your errand from the Lord. Then act on it.

Believe and Trust

Digging a pond in the late fall of Idaho, is a strange idea. But once you get your commission from the Lord. Trust Him. You’re biggest challenge in life is not self confidence. Rather it’s God confidence. Knowing with surety that you are to live the way He wants, gives you an unbeatable confidence. Even it looks different than what others might have expected.

Most assuredly, the impressions we have will invite us to change and repent. They will make us want to do and be better. 

Conclusion

I know that God lives. He loves us and answers our prayers. I promise as you seek to hear His voice, you will find Him.

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