Hearing God Through Scripture
By Priscilla Shirer
When Jesus paid for our sin, He stripped away our barriers to God. Suddenly the Holy Spirit could actually occupy a human spirit because the holiness of God had wiped away the sin of His child. God can now fellowship with each believer intimately and immediately wherever that believer may be. This intimacy is the deepest friendship and relationship possible, and the Spirit speaks primarily through the written Word—living, active, and personalized.
The Bible not only establishes the boundaries into which every personal word God gives us will fall; it is the chief means of communication we have with God. Scripture is alive!
The following principles helped me have a conversation with God that challenged my entire ministry. It took me two years to complete the Gospel of John as I carefully looked into one or two verses each day. Using these principles, my once drab quiet time and prayer life grew into an explosion of fellowship and conversation with the Lord.
Pick a verse or verses on a particular topic, a chapter, or book of the Bible. And then try using these five steps to hearing God through Scripture.
Position yourself to hear from God.
Though God can speak to us anywhere and anytime, we find hearing easier when the distractions are limited. Find a spot where you can be alone, even if just for a few moments, so you can more easily have an awareness of God’s presence and an ability to hear His voice whispering to you. Don’t be afraid of silence. It is in the stillness that we get to know God best (Psalm 46:10).
And expect God to speak to you. Having an intimate, conversational relationship with Him is a privilege that comes with being His child. Go into your time of Bible reading with an expectation that you will get something out of it. Don’t limit God by your past experiences.
Pore over the passage and paraphrase the major point.
When you read the Bible expecting God to speak, don’t just skim the passage. You are not in a race to finish your lesson. Meander in each verse. If the passage allows, put yourself in the Scripture and see yourself in the story. If one verse seems to resonate with you, don’t worry about finishing the rest, stay in the passage and let the Spirit speak to you.
Read the passage a few times, emphasizing different words each time. If a certain word or phrase pops out at you, don’t ignore it. Stop and consider why. This is how the Spirit speaks; He causes Scripture to connect with the details of our lives.
Consider the context as you pore over the passage: Who are the major participants? What are they doing? Saying? Where are they going? Why is this happening? How?
Pull out the spiritual principles.
Spiritualize the major points of the verse. What is God teaching? What is He revealing about Himself?
Pose the question.
Form a personally directed question from each of the spiritual principles you listed. Ask yourself: Does my life coincide with the message of this verse? Is anything in my life contradicting this passage? What do I need to do to bring my life in line? How does this apply to my life right now?
As you ask yourself questions along these lines, permit the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Take time to listen for His voice as you quietly consider the answers to these questions. As you sit still in God’s presence, you will hear the Spirit whispering to you—encouraging you, convicting you, challenging you, and inspiring you. Record what the Spirit is asking you to do.
Plan obedience and pin down a date.
Record the steps you can take immediately to begin responding to what God has said to you in the verses you looked at that day. Recall these steps throughout your day and put them into practice immediately. If obedience requires you to do something specific such as apologize to someone, record a date and time you will follow through. Let someone else know about your plan so you can be held accountable.
These were once steps to follow, but now they are an automatic way for me to approach the Scriptures. I’m amazed how the Spirit speaks as He applies scriptural passages to the regular stuff of my daily existence. I hope you are ready to have real conversations with God as you look into the Word. The refreshment you find in spending time in God’s Word will change your life forever.
PRISCILLA SHIRER (@PriscillaShirer) is the author of nine Bible studies and seven books, including The Resolution for Women. Priscilla and her husband, Jerry, lead Going Beyond Ministries. This article is adapted from Shirer’s Can We Talk? Soul-Stirring Conversations with God.