One of the nine metrics of the GPS Spiritual Inventory© is communication with God. Communication with anyone, including God, is a two-way street. In my 15 years of ministry, I have observed that most people have a very one-way relationship with God. They pray and believe God is listening, but struggle to listen to God.
Christian thinker Dallas Willard wrote in a book I highly recommend, Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God, “It is much more important to cultivate the quiet, inward space of a constant listening than to always be approaching God for specific direction.” Hearing God can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths and being quiet enough to listen for a few moments. It takes more than quiet, though, it requires attention.
Attention to what? Attention to God showing up in some way. Jesus talked about having eyes to see and ears to hear. We look for God and we listen for God. I find that a good place to start is to simply ask God to speak to you in some way and then open your eyes and your ears. Beware! God doesn’t just tell us what we want to hear. We have to be open-minded.
One place I find God speaking to me and my clients is through intuition. If you can believe that the Holy Spirit dwells within, then you can believe that God’s Spirit can be in your intuition. In fact, you can specifically give access to the Holy Spirit to your intuition and begin learning to trust that God can reach you in this way. Just say a prayer and believe that it has been answered (see Luke 11:13).
So what it your intuition?
First, it will be helpful to say what it is not. Intuition is not your instincts. Human instincts are the evolutionary and learned survival skills that go into effect when we feel threatened. (I will leave sexual instincts out of this discussion, but certainly they can interfere with intuition as well.) Our instinctual voice is one that is quite necessary in times of true danger, but it is governed by fear. God’s voice is not a fearful voice. Our human instincts will generally lead us away from following God’s voice in our lives. Perhaps that is why the words “Fear not!” are found throughout the Bible when God is communicating. Maybe God is saying, “Turn off your instincts so that you can listen to me!”
On the other hand, intuition comes from a place of deep knowing. Merriam-Webster defines intuition as the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference. It is like instinct in that it comes without thought, but it is not a warning of danger. It comes from a place of deep understanding and wisdom. Even without bringing God into the equation, your intuitive voice is a better voice to listen to when it comes to important decisions and guidance. But when your intuition is informed by the Holy Spirit, it is a way we can receive communication from God. It is a place of revelation.
Your intuition by itself is not the voice of God. The Apostle Paul wrote “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Our intuition without Christ’s Spirit is held captive by human thinking.
How do you free your intuition to be available to God’s voice rather than the world’s voices or your instinct’s voice?
- Surrender your life, including your intuition, to God through Christ. Surrendering goes against our instincts because we deeply cling to false notions of personal autonomy. In reality we are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness (see Romans 6:16). Trust that God loves you and will not mislead you. The Spirit frees and transforms our minds so that we can discern God’s will (see Romans 12:2). Also, be aware that without God you are being misled every day because your will is being unconsciously led by a world that seeks to use you for its purposes.
- Learn to recognize God’s voice by reading Scripture, particularly through the words of Jesus Christ, who is God speaking in the flesh, and also the prophets. There is a consistent voice. If the voice from within does not sound like something Jesus would say, then it is most like not from God.
- Learn to listen to your intuition. First, quiet your fears. There is a million ways to do this. Find what works for you. For me, I remind myself that I am not in danger (which is the case 99% of the time) and that God is with me (even if I am in danger!). Listen for that wise voice that is not fearful and critical, but encouraging, loving, and inciteful. Sometimes it comes in words and sometimes in images.
- Trust that God has access to your intuitive voice and listen. I know people are worried about mental illness when it comes to hearing voices. If you are worried, go see a doctor. Having a conscience is not mental illness. Intuition informs our conscience thoughts. Trust this voice of deep knowing that God has access to if you give God access. And then be faithful to this wonderful inner guide.
Communication with God is key to your spiritual health, which is your ability to receive God’s love, be transformed by it, and be a source of God’s love for others.
God will intuitively lead you to love even when your instincts are screaming otherwise, if you will learn to listen.