Listening for God's Voice
A Discipleship Guide to a Closer Walk



Edward Burne-Jones, detail 'Samuel' (1873), Vyning Memorial Windows, Christ Cathedral, Oxford.

God can get anyone's attention by shouting. For example, on the road to Damascus, a loud voice and a bright light turned his arch enemy into a disciple. But most of the time, God prefers to speak in a softer voice, one that we can miss if we're not listening carefully.

For the last 50 years I have been actively seeking to listen to and obey God's voice and his promptings. I've got a long way to go in both sensitivity and obedience, but God has been prompting me to share what he has taught me on this very important topic. This study is not intended to be a comprehensive study of guidance, nor does it purport to explain spiritual gifts of prophecy, word of knowledge, and word of wisdom. Rather, it is seeks to focus on discerning and acting on God's voice and promptings as a way of life for Christ's disciples today.

The study consists of five lessons to be studied over five weeks. Each lesson contains a major Bible text (or two), plus contributing verses on the same topic. I also conclude each lesson with a summary of Lessons for Disciples, Practical Steps to Sharpen Our Hearing, a prayer, and Key Verses.


Watch a YouTube interview regarding 'Listening for God's Voice.'

Here are the topics:

  1. Listening as a Biblical Pattern (Mark 1:35; John 5:19). Discusses the examples of Jesus' own dependence upon the Father, how he ministered in the power of the Spirit, promises of the Holy Spirit to us (John 14-16), and how the Spirit reveals the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:9-16).

  2. Recognizing God's Voice (1 Kings 19). Explores how God speaks in words and sentences to guide and encourage his servants. A study of Elijah's "still small voice," plus words of encouragement to Paul and others.

  3. Nudges and No (Acts 8:26-40; 16:6-10). Many times God's voice is in more in promptings or nudges or just "no," rather than in articulate sentences. We examine Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40), Paul and Silas seeking where to preach (and not to preach) on the Second Missionary Journey (Acts 16:6-10), David inquiring of the Lord, and other everyday nudges.

  4. Heart Preparation for Listening to God (1 Samuel 3:1-10). Now we explore heart preparation for listening for God, beginning with the boy Samuel (1 Samuel 3:1-10). Emphasizes a willingness to obey and follow instructions, the subtlety of pride, and the centrality of the relationship rather than the supposed "novelty" of God's voice.

  5. Discerning God's Voice (Judges 6:36-40). Discusses how we can confirm that it is God speaking, rather than one of the other voices in our heads -- the world, the flesh, the devil, or the conscience. Examines Gideon's fleece and asking for signs, working with a buddy or mentor, knowing the scriptures, and clarifying our own desires, etc.

These will clarify the purpose of the study further:

Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
This is our 45th online Bible study since 1996. If you've participated in one before, you know how God can use them in your life. If not, then you have a treat in store for you. This is an cross-denominational study designed to help you grow as a disciple of Christ. -- Dr. Ralph F. Wilson. About the leader.

I encourage you to sign up for this study today so you don't forget -- and invite your friends to do the same.

If you sign up now, you'll receive the first lesson on Friday, January 12, 2018. There is absolutely no charge for these e-mail lessons.

Here's how we'll study together.

  • Each Saturday I'll e-mail you the lesson for the week. Then you'll read the Bible passage and use my notes to help you understand it better.
  • If you sign up for the daily questions version, on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday you'll receive a question from that week's lesson to think about and answer. This is designed as a "total immersion" approach to Bible study, since I believe God wants to use these lessons to work real and permanent change in your life. (You can opt out of the daily questions if you like, however, and just receive the weekly lessons.) You'll be thinking about these passages constantly over these weeks -- long enough for God to work his Word into your life and lifestyle.
  • You can respond to the questions and exercises using the Joyful Heart Bible Study Forum -- and read others' answers to reinforce your own understanding.
  • With each lesson you'll receive a link to a 20- to 30-minute audio teaching that sums up the passage you've been studying that week. Some who learn better from hearing than from reading really appreciate this.
  • Then on Saturday, I'll send you the next week's lesson.
To avoid spiritual injury, please do not sign up for the study if you don't intend to participate personally in learning to hear God's voice. This is not merely an academic inquiry, but is designed to be intensely practical. (If you've had mental health issues, read this.)

Available in PDF, Kindle, and paperback formats.

To get up to speed, here's what you'll need to get in place before you receive the first lesson:

  1. Begin a daily Quiet Time, or renew yours if you already have this in your life. This is vital!
  2. Secure a notebook in which to write down what you are hearing.
  3. Find a spiritual partner who can study the lessons with you, and with whom you can share what you're learning and what you think God is saying or prompting. Get this person to sign up for this study online right away, so he or she will be in synch with you when the lessons begin.
  4. Mentor. Talk to your pastor, or a spiritual person in your church -- someone who already actively listens for God's voice -- who will agree to answer questions you might need clarification on during the study.

These are necessary for this study. I'll explain more about these after you sign up.

Sign up now!

To sign up, start by clicking on your e-mail frequency preference:

  • Weekly lesson only (arrives each Saturday and includes the questions)
  • Weekly lesson, daily questions (same as weekly option, except in addition you receive a question or two each day for 3 or 4 days to keep your mind on the lesson during the week).

You'll receive your first lesson on Friday, January 12, 2018. There is no cost to participate in the study, though donations are encouraged so we can create more studies and reach more people.

We respect your privacy and never sell, rent, or loan our lists. Please don't subscribe your friends; let them decide for themselves.

Please don't sign up for more than one of my Bible studies at one time. There's no penalty, but each of them is pretty intensive. If you try to do too many studies at the same time without adequate reflection, you'll miss out on God speaking to you.


Copyright © 1985-2017, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.