Is God speaking to you?
Christians hear God’s voice in many different ways. Tania Harris wants to show you how she hears it.
“I used to argue with God a lot more in the early days,” says Tania Harris, the founder of God Conversations, an Australian-based global ministry that teaches people to recognise and respond to God’s voice.
“I was aware that I could say no, but I didn’t want to, because I felt like if I did I’d lose something of the favour of God. I think there are consequences to our no’s. God doesn’t love us any less, but if he asks us to do something there are really good reasons why. I feel the fear of God when I say no; I never say no. But I might argue about it for a while.”
Tania also wondered how she could know that it was really God who was speaking to her.
Tania didn’t grow up hearing the voice of God. In fact, she says she grew up in a church that didn’t believe God could speak anymore. She was encouraged to read and memorise whole books of the Bible – something that she says helped her recognise the voice of God when she began to hear it, later on.
When she was 21 she met a friend who seemed to know God personally, and she started to wonder what the voice of God sounded like. She also wondered how she could know that it was really God who was speaking to her.
A few months later two separate events made her even more curious. First, while praying with some friends, a Bible verse slipped into her mind. She wondered if God had placed it there, and so asked, “’God, if that’s you, can you make the pastor talk about that verse in church tomorrow?’ – which is a stupid thing to say, right – anyway, but I just wanted to know.” Second, Tania was driving home and a thought popped into her head that her car was going to get broken into overnight. In the morning as she went to her car to drive to church, the lock was broken and the contents of the glove box all over the floor. When she got to church, the pastor spoke about that verse.
“It’s a decision you make in your heart to know God and it looks different for every person.” – Tania Harris
“That was when I first realised that God’s voice wasn’t necessarily an out loud booming voice, it was a spiritual voice that you hear like a thought in your head. It’s not your thought, it’s God’s thought,” says Tania.
She believes every Christian can learn to hear God’s voice. “It’s about setting your face to know God. It’s a decision you make in your heart to know God and it looks different for every person.
“If for you that looks like sitting on a mountaintop for three hours, then great! But if you have ADHD or toddlers, don’t worry, you don’t have to put constraints on hearing God’s voice.”
She describes it as “putting up your spiritual antennae. When I did it, I was shocked at how clear God could be.”
“Learn to want to know what God is saying to you personally.” – Tania Harris
There’s no special technique or pose that is required; Tania even suggests that it may not be important to take time to quiet your mind if you want to hear from God. But there are a few things that every Christian could learn to enhance their relationship with God.
1. Believe that the speaking capacity of God is for everyone. Tania says, “this is part of our inheritance. In Acts 2:16-17 we see that this is what was promised. We need to understand that this is for everybody, and get a little bit dissatisfied when you don’t have it. Learn to want to know what God is saying to you personally.”
2. Learn to understand how the Holy Spirit speaks. “You won’t always get it right straight away. Like the prophet Samuel, who didn’t recognise God’s voice the first time, we learn. It’s a process. We need to realise we can make mistakes. It takes time. It’s easy for me to hear God’s voice now, but it takes time.”
3. Understand the importance of following Jesus. “Everything God says leads you to dying to self, and who wants to do that? The guts of it is about following Jesus,” Tania explains.
But even if you master these three lessons, the enduring question remains: ‘How do I know that it is the voice of God, and not just my own fanciful imagination?’
“It’s like starting to get to know someone,” Tania says. “If you’re my best friend, if I’ve known you for ten years, then when you call me and say ‘Hello’, I immediately know who you are. And it’s just that I’ve gotten to know you, and I know the intonation of your voice. The voice of the spirit is like that. You start to recognise the kind of things the Spirit says, and they’re not usually the things you would say.
“The voice of the Spirit is consistent with the voice of Jesus because they’re one and the same.” – Tania Harris
“But then there’s the whole thing of ‘Would God say this? How do I know what God would say?’
“The Bible gives us the foundational parameters about the kind of things that God would say, through his Spirit. But the voice of the Spirit is consistent with the voice of Jesus because they’re one and the same.
“When I hear from the Spirit, I understand it’s the voice of Jesus; it’s the testimony of Jesus. It has to be consistent with Jesus – the character and nature of God that we see in Jesus,” Tania explains.
“Of course you test [what you hear] to see if it’s in line with God’s character in the scriptures. And at the end of the day, Jesus is the perfect image of the invisible God. He’s the one who gives the clearest picture of what God is like and what God would say.”
“The area I’ve most got it wrong is timing.” – Tania Harris
But Tania knows that she is fallible, and that even with these guidelines, she can get it wrong.
“The area I’ve most got it wrong is timing. My wishful thinking and my planning personality has tried to speed things up and I think I’ve gotten myself quite disillusioned because I haven’t understood the process.
“I can misread the cues, I hear what I want to hear, I see what I want to see. My mindsets, desires and my experiences all create a filter through which I interpret the world. I need safety in numbers.
“With things that are high risk: careers, jobs, houses, marriages, health and family, you need confirmation in the body [of believers]. What that means is that the Spirit comes on me but it also comes on you.
“I feel like now I know God; before I never knew him.” – Tania Harris
“Every time I’ve had any conversation with God that’s taken me out of the bounds of common sense or out of general wisdom – like leave your job when you’ve got nowhere to go, give money away when you’re counting on it, start a ministry that no one’s heard of, or trust God to provide a house even though everyone else goes to websites – there needs to be the Holy Spirit speaking and confirming it through someone else,” Tania says.
Tania’s deep love of the Bible saturates her conversation, and she reiterates that it’s hard to know the voice of God if you don’t know the language of Jesus or the Holy Spirit, as reported in the Bible.
When she reflects on her journey with God Conversations, and all the blogs, talks, workshops and seminars, she says, “I used to know God like you’d know the Queen of England from a magazine. I knew about him. I feel like now I know God; before I never knew him.”