Discerning God's Whisper

In March, 1977, I was a high school senior and clueless about my future -- until God whispered.

That may sound a bit dramatic, but as I look back over the last 34 years my life has not been the same. I wonder what would have happened if I had ignored what I perceived to be the whisper of God.

Have you ever had a prompting that you thought was from God? Nehemiah did.

So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 2:11-12 ESV)

Hold on there Nehemiah! How did you know that churning deep down inside was from God? For that matter, how can we discern whether a strong internal prompting is really the voice of God?

Yesterday, I was listening to an interview with Bill Hybels entitled, "Does God Whisper?" The discussion grew out of Bill's book, The Power Of A Whisper: Hearing God, Having The Guts To Respond. In the interview, Hybels presented five filters he uses to discern God's voice:

  1. The God filter: Is this prompting consistent with God's character? With his attributes? With who I know God to be?
  2. The Scripture filter: Does this prompting square with Scripture? God is not going to contradict himself.
  3. The Wisdom filter: God calls us to be wise. Wise does not always mean "safe." But wise does mean God will not send us chasing a foolish whim.
  4. The Wiring filter: Is the prompting consistent with the way God has wired you? With your spiritual gifts? Your experience? While it is not beyond God to call a timid Gideon, He is probably NOT going to ask you to do something for which he has not equipped you.
  5. The Trusted Friends filter: Do trusted friends "green light" this whisper? Or are they responding with a cautious or negative response? We know there is safety in the abundance of many counselors (Proverbs 11:14). What do these friends have to say about what you think you are hearing?

Throughout Scripture and throughout history people have operated on what they perceive to be leadings from God. Hybel's filters, while not providing a concrete means for weighing a Holy Spirit whisper, provide help in assessing what could be a life-altering course.

Lord, give us Nehemiah's ear to hear your voice.

Question: What have you learned about discerning the call of God in your life? You can leave a comment below.