How to Hear God Speaking to You

Many people never listen to God because they are not aware that He speaks to them. Yet, God does speak. One way to live in His presence is to acquire the habit of recognizing His voice when He speaks. If we do not know that God wishes to communicate with us, or the ways He has chosen, then our passage through life will be devoid of the most perfect of guides.

When does God speak to us? He speaks at all times, especially in prayer. Prayer is a conversation with God. But it is not a monologue. When we pray, then, we should also listen, because a good conversationalist is also a good listener. We do not pray well when we recite ready-made formulas quickly and distractedly. We act as if God has only to listen to us, and that we have no need to listen to the thoughts and desires that He wishes to communicate to us. He has promised, “If thou wilt hear the voice of the Lord thy God, and do what is right before Him, and obey His commandments, and keep all His precepts, none of the evils that I laid upon Egypt will I bring upon thee.”

Unfortunately, many of us have never trained ourselves to listen to His voice. But, if we are to know God’s will, we must listen to Him and obey Him when we recognize His commandments.

But how does God speak to us? God is a pure spirit. Unlike man, He has no voice. If He wishes to speak to us, He must use some means outside of Himself, adapted to our nature, by which He can communicate ideas. He may use things we can see and hear in order to stir our imagination, or He may enter directly into our thoughts.

God speaks to you personally

Does God, then, speak to man? How can we ever doubt it? How foolish it is to read all types of books and neglect the word of God! The Scriptures were not meant only for particular groups of people; they were meant for all men at all times. God is eternal; His words are eternal. Although He speaks to all men, He speaks to us personally.

This does not mean that every person should take the Bible and interpret it according to his own fancy. No, the Church alone is the divinely appointed authority to guide us in the correct interpretation  of the Bible. The Church encourages us to read it, because she knows that the word of God can enter into our minds and that God, in His own mysterious way, can teach the true way of life, the way of love and intimate union with Him.

St. Ignatius of Loyola felt that God was speaking directly to him, when, on his sick bed, he read the words:

“For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?”

But, we ask, is this prayer? It is at least the beginning of prayer. We listen to these words of Christ; we ponder over them; they awaken thoughts and desires within us. We begin to believe, to hope, to love. Our will becomes inspired, and we break forth in ardent affections, calling on Christ to help us, begging forgiveness, expressing gratitude, performing little acts of adoration — and surely this is prayer.

We often read of visions, apparitions, and revelations in which God spoke to the saints. St. Paul on the road to Damascus is a classic example. And we read in the life of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that, while she was engaged in prayer, Jesus often spoke to her of the devotion to His Sacred Heart.

Such conversations with God are not rare in the lives of the canonized. But must we in our conversation with God await the appearance of Jesus, of some heavenly voice or extraordinary apparition, some heavenly manifestation from God? Absolutely not. It is true that God does single out some chosen souls to whom He speaks directly and who actually experience the divine power working in them, but these are very few; it is not the way that God ordinarily uses. We should not even desire that God speak to us in this extraordinary manner. We should not expect it. Visions and revelations are not necessary for us to grow in deep love for God. We may fall deeply in love with Him and practice faithfully the presence of God, yet never receive any extraordinary manifestations from Him. These are special gifts, and God gives them to whom He wills, and when He wills.

God speaks to your mind and to your heart

Nevertheless, God does speak to all of us without exception in a more direct way than we have yet mentioned. It is a hidden way, by which He enters directly into our thoughts and desires. Our most hidden secrets are not secrets to Him. He comes right into our mind. Our thoughts are not only our thoughts; our desires are not only our desires — they may also be God’s thoughts and desires. We know we can do nothing without God. Even such ordinary things as eating, breathing, and walking cannot be done without the ordinary help that God gives us. But, in this instance, we are presupposing this natural help of God and are referring to a greater and more noble assistance from Him.

Does God help us in a special way to think good thoughts and to desire holy things? He most assuredly does. For we are living in a supernatural order and destined to a supernatural end, the Beatific Vision. To attain this end, God not only gives us the principle of supernatural life, sanctifying grace, but He also gives us actual graces that help us to perform supernatural actions and thus to grow in the grace of God. These actual graces are, especially, the holy thoughts and desires that God creates in us.

God does not have to use external words and signs to attract our attention  and convey ideas to us. He enters our minds directly. He speaks secretly, noiselessly, as befits the Divinity. It is only by faith that we know He is working in us. For example, God once spoke in a special, hidden way to St. Peter, who then confessed Jesus to be the Son of God. “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona,” said our Lord. “For flesh and blood hath not revealed this to thee, but my Father in Heaven.”

St. John tells us that we will know all things from the Holy Spirit: “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.”St. Paul says that God enters our very thoughts: “Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.”

God also enters our hearts and inspires us to holy desires. “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God, was listening; and the Lord touched her heart to give heed to what was being said by Paul.”

Thus, the Scriptures and the Church tell us that God speaks to us in the silence of our minds and hearts. He speaks to all men, but all men do not hear Him. God speaks to our mind and heart when we kneel to meditate or to adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament. He enters our mind when the passing things of time excite our thoughts. It is He who gives us holy thoughts to conquer our temptations. It is He who stirs up within us the desire to persevere against all adversaries.

Perhaps we have never realized that God is illuminating our intellect and inspiring our will. Yet He does just that. That is why we are told not to do all the talking in prayer. For, if we continually recite vocal prayers without pausing now and then to think, we will stifle the thoughts and desires that God wishes to excite in us.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux tells us how she listened to the voice of God. “I know and have experienced that ‘the Kingdom of God is within us,’ that our Master has no need of books or teacher to instruct a soul. The Teacher of teachers instructs without sound of words, and though I have never heard Him speak, yet I know He is within me, always guiding and inspiring me; and just when I need them, lights, hitherto unseen, break in upon me. As a rule, it is not during prayer that this happens, but in the midst of my daily duties.”

But we are not only to listen; it would be folly to remain in a state of mental blankness, waiting for God to speak. No, prayer is a loving conversation, and, when the Holy Spirit moves us, it is time to begin our part of the colloquy.

One way, then, to practice the exercise of the presence of God is to listen to God, to be aware that He speaks to us, to be ever conscious that God can use all things to communicate with us.

The was excerpted from Fr. Healy’s Awakening Your Soul to the Presence of God, which is now available from Sophia Institute Press. 

Image courtesy Shutterstock.com

Fr. Killian J. Healy

By

Fr. Killian J. Healy, O. Carm (1912-2003) was a Carmelite priest who served as the Prior General of the Order from 1959-1971. He wrote widely on prayer and spirituality throughout his life and directed many people, lay and ordained, into a deeper life with God. His books are currently being reprinted by Sophia Institute Press.

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  • Deoacveritatimyfaithsustainsm

    Good article thank you!

  • El_Tigre_Loco

    Our family moved half way across the country 35 years ago. We were delayed, much to our consternation, because winter was fast approaching. However, we finally made the trip. We arrived in our new state on the Sunday after Thanksgiving which is the first Sunday of the new ecclesiastical year. We attended Mass, and the homily was about a new start, a new beginning. That fit our condition so perfectly, that even I recognized it as God letting us know he approved of our move. We arrived at our new parish just before the pastor needed a new assistant. It was a position my wife fit very well and she served for 30 years. Praise be to God!

  • Texas3Step

    I try to listen and hear, and I know that sometimes I have heard. But so often, God’s voice sounds so like my own that I’m not sure who it is I am really hearing.

  • pro-life

    In August, the night before my son died of cancer, I had come home from the hospital spent, from spending 6 days with him in an induced coma, and from the anxiety of his dying. I prayed for months that God would heal him. I went out into my garden to weed, that sometimes calms me. Suddenly, I noticed a Monarch Butterfly on one of my flowers. This was about 7:15 in the evening, not when we expect to see butterllies. I walked closer and he never moved, even when I was but inches from him. Early tne next morning, I received the call that Tom had died. It came into my heart that bhe butterfly, a sign of renewal, was God telling me He was taking Tom home for the ultimate healing. I will never not believe this.

  • catholicexchange

    Thank you for sharing your story, and my condolences for your beloved son. I will keep him in my prayers this evening and also pray that continues to bring you a spirit of peace.

  • John Jensen

    I confess I find this article and so many like it enormously frustrating. I was not brought up a Christian; was converted at age 27 (Protestant); became a Catholic at age 53; and am now 71. I read the article, hoping to be told how to hear God speaking to me – but was only told that it was possible. The end of the article repeated what I have heard so often; “…prayer is a loving conversation…” (which is what my spiritual director says). I weep at times over the absence of any sense of His Voice.

    jj

  • John Jensen

    Just a further comment – what I read below (by El Tigre Loco and pro-life) appear to me to be instances of recognising God’s providence. Fair enough, and I do not say I do not believe that He providentially orders everything for His purposes and my good. But is this what is meant by hearing the voice of God? It is certainly not what I have believed people mean, who tell me that God speaks to them in prayer – and Father Healy’s article talks about God speaking to us in prayer. Texas3step’s comment seems to me very relevant. How am I to know that any ‘inner impressions’ (or whatever) are not simply my thoughts?

    I am, am I sure, very stupid here. I just wish I understood. If, as I fear, I am not *intended* to *know* that this or that thing is God’s Voice – then I am content. But I keep being told that I ought to hear His Voice; that prayer is, in fact, a ‘conversation.’

    It is not my experience.

    jj

  • David Green

    I have never heard god speak to me ever it is so fustrating I never understood in church when people said god spoke to them i still can not determine if it is god or just all in my head!!! :(

  • John Jensen

    Yes – what I meant. It has seemed to me that in the nature of things, it must normally be so. If God spoke to you, how would you know? Unless He produced sound or something, mustn’t it seem like thoughts? And how would you know it was not just your own thoughts?

    That said, I think it possible for God to make you know that a particular thought came from Him – but I do think that must be exceptional.

    So … I continue to pray. I try not just to blah blah blah at the Lord. But I do find it frustrating to be asked by my spiritual director what God tells me in prayer.

    jj

  • Victor John

    My favorite scripture quote, John 14, Vs 21 ” Whoever accepts my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves me. My Father will love whoever loves me; I too will love him and “reveal” myself to him “. Judas,( not Iscariot ) said, ” Lord, how can it be that you will ” reveal” yourself to us and not to the world? “

  • Victor John

    My dad never went to school a day in his life. He had much faith and an avid daily prayer life. When working he often called on St. Joseph to help solve a problem. Often amazing things. When I would question him on how he knew how to solve a problem he would say, son, when ever you want to know how to do anything take it to God in prayer, especially before you go to bed at night. My dad lived to be eighty. I never once saw him go to bed without first kneeling down and saying his prayers. Now all five of his children have avid prayer lives. We often share messages we receive from God. Once my sister phoned me at 6:00 a.m. to pray as she had just had a vision or dream and saw a bunch of bodies all over a road. We both went into deep prayer. within an hour I received another call sharing how a bus had collided with a pulp truck truck and there were bodies lying all over the road. Only one person died. When we listen, God talks to us all day long. Not so much in words, but by blessing what we do.When everything just seems to fall into place chances are we are doing His perfect will for us at that moment. If things begin to go wrong I take a break. Usually I find someone has been trying to get a hold of me about an important matter.

  • Michael A Knight

    Great article. Grateful for you having shared it.

    Am deeply disturbed however by the tagline at the end: “The was excreted from Fr. Healy’s Awakening Your Soul to the Presence of God,…” Clearly someone wants to take shots at Fr. Healy (may God rest his soul), and Fr’s, good work.

    [Editors note: Whoops on our end! Thanks, it has been corrected. MJL]

  • Gayle Lynn

    I loved this article and will pray for those who feel like they “cannot hear Him”. Our Lord will “speak” to you in various subtle, and not so subtle ways. Obviously through scripture, during prayer, etc. But then sometimes simply through others. A message you were meant to hear….perhaps from a perfect stranger.
    I sat in a hospital room 4.5 years ago watching my mother die. I had questioned her salvation and relationship with our Lord. She was not Catholic nor practiced any faith. I had her anointed anyway, and prayed that a miracle would happen, a conversion, a repentance, and God would embrace her with mercy and love as she slipped in between this world and that. Earlier that day I held her hand and asked her if she was ready to go to Heaven.

    Later that evening, a man visiting a relative on the other side of the curtain noticed me quietly weeping. He said to me “Now, don’t cry… You gotta be strong for your mama. She’s going to be just fine”. His words irritated me a bit because he obviously didn’t know the severity of my mothers condition. Her liver was done, her body was shutting down! I reluctantly accepted his gesture to comfort me.

    It wasn’t until tonight that I realized I was receiving a special message.

    The stranger words were a message to me that she would be fine, Our Lord has her, and I would see my mother again some day.

  • Michael Lichens

    That was my error. No harm meant to the good and holy priest. Thanks for pointing it out in a rather comedic way.

  • Friend in Christ

    For a couple of years now-my prayer group has been learning to hear the Voice of God- and I would like to share with you some things we have learned. You need to look for God in everything- because that is where He is! He wants you to hear Him- He takes delight in that. So-if you read something- in the Bible or anywhere and something “pierces your heart” in a special way- take note of it. And see if it crops up anywhere else- could be a billboard- a movie-a song- and if it does- ask the Lord what it means- He will show you. Watch for Him and His “winks” as we call it- and don’t be concerned that it may be in your head- I have advice from 2 priests that if it is GOOD- then follow it- and if you believe you have an inspiration- it is not wrong to share it and talk about it- with the understanding that you feel God inspired it. If you go to Adoration and ask for answers- you can leave knowing they are on the way- watch for them. Go to Confession often- a clean heart hears better. I have found that when you cultivate a friendship with God- He hears the unspoken prayer of your heart and works very hard to fulfill it. Notice it and THANK HIM RIGHT AWAY when He does a special favor for you. Gratitude opens your heart to much grace.God will not be outdone in favors- so try to please the Lord and He will do more for you than you could ever do for Him. Ask Mother Mary to help you have an open heart for the Holy Spirit. She is His Holy Spouse and is the door to His heart. Seek and you will find- knock and it will be opened- ask and RECIEVE- ask for this gift- and I will ask that the Lord touch your heart in a special way- so that you can know His personal love for you and how he cares about the daily goings on in your life and wants to be a part of it. Include him in your day- all of it- and soon you will be very aware of His Voice. I promise!

  • ManeeVee

    jj,

    I want to tell you a story about something that happened to me a long, long time ago. I was 16 years old and my older brother (20) had just died of leukemia. He was diagnosed on Dec. 26 1970 and died on January 7 1971, two weeks time. I was lying in bed one evening after the funeral, crying and praying. I wasn’t praying rosaries, or Our Fathers, but I was talking to
    God. I kept saying, “Why God? Why? Why did you take him from us? Why
    did you give him to us, let us love him so much, and then let him die? Why God? Why did you do that?” I was doing this because it was easing the deep, excruciating pain in my heart that every other member of my family felt, and we could not console each other. After I don’t know how long, and very
    suddenly, I “heard” a voice in my heart. The voice said (and I still remember the exact words, even though it has been 42 years), “The measure of your grief is the measure of your love.” I was startled. I didn’t hear this voice in my
    ears. It was like the voice in my head. But I knew the message was not
    from inside me, not my own words. I knew somehow God (or His angel, or Our Lord or some holy one) had spoken to me. And that was the beginning of an incredible change in me, because for the first time in my life I found out, I KNEW, God could hear me and He could speak to me.

    However, I have not had many occasions when God has spoken to me in the same way. Maybe I can recall one other time when I “heard” a word or message. Usually God gets through to me in other ways, usually by way
    of scripture passages that “strike” me, or sometimes I will see something on a theme two or three times in different places and I get the idea God wants me to do something. And there are times, lately, when I go to Mass, and as I am praying just before Mass begins, sometimes a strong “message” will come into my mind, something that is less than a voice, but a strong thought that I am surprised by, for instance, maybe something like, “You know, even if you were the only sinner, I would have died for you.”

    In any case, I love that you so long for God that you weep. Do you not know how pleasing it must be for Him that you “faint with love for Him” and you long to hear His voice? Doesn’t scripture say, “For, amen, I say to you, many prophets and just men have desired to see the things that you see,
    and have not seen them, and to hear the things that you hear and have not heard them.”? But there is no way for you (or me or anyone) to do anything to “hear” God speaking to us. He will speak to you if He wills. Until He does, you will have to content yourself with letting Him guide you through inspirations, scripture, and other people’s words.

    But I wonder what you will think, when you are at your last moment on earth, and you look up to see Our Lord there, and He says to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Then you will rejoice to hear His voice. Until then, I recommend you tell Him, and tell Him often, how much you long to hear His voice. He will appreciate it.
    I hope my story and comments help at least a little.

  • Lee

    God does bring joy and peace to us in most beautiful and unexpected ways. You have been given a wonderful moment with your Lord. Tell Him how grateful you are. Prayers will be said for your son. Jesus, Mary, I love you. Save souls,

  • John Jensen

    Thanks, all, for comments. I fear these things confirm what I had thought. Yesterday, I was praying and ‘specially asking God to let me hear His voice. A ‘word’ came into my mind: “If I spoke to you, would you pay any attention to Me?”

    Now that may have been God. But I see no way to know that it wasn’t my normal self-reaction to my own prayer.

    I have appreciated all the things people have said here – it does seem to me that, apart from a special private revelation – which only the person can know – I cannot be sure that God has spoken to me specifically (as opposed to the fact that He never ceases to speak to all of us publically, through creation and through His Revelation).

    jj

  • Lee

    We need not be anxious in our desire to hear God’s voice. We must take it upon ourselves to be still as we go about our days and serve Him, offering to do His Will. Our time in prayer and our words of gratitude for His many blessings upon us is our way to be open to Him. We must enjoy the little miracles and offer ourselves to do His work for Him. We pray Heaven will be our reward.

  • John Jensen

    This is very familiar, and, in a way, I completely agree with it – except that I do not think this is what some people mean when they say they hear the voice of God. Your statement above implies – and I think it is true – that everything that happens to me, and everything that I see in Revelation is God speaking to me. I think that is true. I think we have a tendency to think that it is only the nice things that are that – but I don’t think that is so.

    The problem with the ‘God touching my heart in a special way’ is that I have no way of knowing it is God in any special way other than that everything that happens, including what happens in my heart.

    Example: in addition to my regular job (computer system admin), I am a musician (french horn). Music can move me enormously. Are those moments ‘special touches from God?’ If so, then I really fail to see the point of all the advice about ways of seeking to hear His voice. They happen to me regardless – happened when I was young and had no more idea of God than a pig has of ballet.

    I go to Confession weekly; go to spiritual direction monthly; spend an hour in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament weekly. I have never been certain that God spoke to me in any special way.

    Perhaps it is just not for me :-)

    jj

  • John Jensen

    “…how pleasing it must be for Him that you “faint with love for Him” and you long to hear His voice?”

    I am tempted to respond: “cold comfort.” :-)

    I believe (as in ‘have faith’) that this is true. Yesterday I took this whole thing (at lunchtime Mass) to Our Lady’s side chapel. Indeed, I feel comforted by this – but … well, I dunno. I think I must continue to walk in faith. I think there is a kind of tightrope walk here.

    One can just shrug one’s shoulders, say “leave it to the Lord,” and go one’s way. That way, I think, lies lukewarmness, acedia, sloth – and possibly spiritual death.

    Or one can buckle down, increase one’s hours of prayer, go through all sorts of ascetic practices, etc – and the danger there is spiritual pride, indeed, the attempt to force God’s Hand is a very dangerous way to go.

    So I go on – trusting, but sometimes very down about it. I thank you for your prayers.

    jj

  • Ernest

    John, I am not sure what to make of all of your comments on this article except that they are exactly as I have experienced, thought and felt. For so long, I have sought the voice of God, asking to know for certain whatever He wished to say to me. Not hearing in any discernible way an answer,and becoming increasingly frustrated, as I believed what I have been told over and again, that He will answer. After many many years, and many attempts to know what God wants to say to me, I have often felt that either I was doing something wrong, or somehow managed to make the heavenly “short list”. Even prayers to know what I did or was doing wrong, or not doing to hear the desires of God to me, have gone unanswered. I have come to the point that even if He said “Shut up already!” I would be happy that at least He spoke to me.

    I wish I had the answer for you, but I am also searching and still have not found the answers. I feel guilty for my frustration, believing that I must be doing something wrong….I just needed to find out what I was doing wrong, but that is also not answered. Also at times I feel justified in my frustration, as I believed, I have done all I could to allow God to talk to me, He just chose not to.

    God bless you in your search.

  • John Jensen

    Yours is the comment that matches my experience :-) That ‘smiley’ is meant to be a ‘rueful smile.’

    You mention the guilt feelings, as well. Same as me. Bottom line, as I said somewhere, is that I intend just to keep on keeping on. I think that, for me, anyway, the temptation to say “it’s my fault, I must do this or that and then God will talk to me” is one I must resist. I pray (mostly in the morning). I go to Mass daily. I go to Reconciliation weekly. I adore Him once a week. I love Him. But I do think it must be over to Him.

    It is certain, I think, that part of my problem is not having been brought up a Christian. I knew nothing whatever of God until I was 27. For any who might be interested, I have written a little something about how I became a Catholic in this:

    http://susanj.atnz.net/Jensen_Family/jj_cath/jj_cath_index.html

    Ernest, I will mention you ‘specially in prayer today at Mass in the Auckland Cathedral.

    jj

  • Ernest

    First of all John, thank you for writing your experiences here. Believe it or not, reading about your exact same situation has brought me some peace, LOL (sorry, but it is good to know I am not alone in this struggle! :). I, like you, intend to tread along, not giving up on God, but deeply hoping that I hear from Him soon.

    I can say with confidence I am sure that God wanted me to read what you had to say! Thanks again John, appreciate the prayers too! God bless.

  • Ernest

    John, again, right on the money with your comments. I am starting to feel odd reading what I have tried to describe to so many others, in my search for answers, only to get that look of pity and confusion in their eyes. I am truly moved by your descriptions and thoughts, never have I encountered anyone who seems to understand or better yet experience as you obviously have and I likewise. God bless.

  • John Jensen

    C. S. Lewis says, somewhere, in an essay on the idea of trying to perceive God’s purposes in history, that the desire to do so is a temptation and a snare. His book Miracles begins with a deeply moving poem that he wrote:

    Among the hills a meteorite
    Lies huge; and moss has overgrown,
    And wind and rain with touches light
    Made soft, the contours of the stone.

    Thus easily can Earth digest
    A cinder of sidereal fire,
    And make her translunary guest
    The native of an English shire.

    Nor is it strange these wanderers
    Find in her lap their fitting place,
    For every particle that’s hers
    Came at the first from outer space.

    All that is Earth has once been sky;
    Down from the sun of old she came,
    Or from some star that travelled by
    Too close to his entangling flame.

    Hence, if belated drops yet fall
    From heaven, on these her plastic power
    Still works as once it worked on all
    The glad rush of the golden shower.

    That poem always moves me deeply. I think the lesson is pertinent here. It is perfectly true that, when God wishes, He can make us know that something from Him was, indeed, a specifically special little something – but that normally, once something comes from God into our world – into, it may be, my mind – it becomes a part of what I naturally am. The source of the thought – or whatever – may be supernatural; the substance of it is natural – and it is now my thought. How should I know, unless He, by a special act in my being, that it is something special from Him.

    But, as many have said, nothing comes to me but from Him. Thus a great problem that people like you and me have is that we are required to believe – have faith – that all things (including that unpayable bill; the unwelcome illness; that difficult coworker) are from Him.

    The only things that are not from Him are sins – and even those cannot be but by His permission. Thus He does speak to us.

    But I long to experience the coming-from-Him-ness of the things. I do not like walking by faith. I long for sight.

    I will come – I believe it. But it is sometimes an agony of soul not to see.

    Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.

    jj

  • Tim

    I believe God wants our active prayer. Where has Mary ever said during any apparition that She/Her Son?God wants some kind on idle mediation before the Blessed Sacrament or anytime during our days? She Always ask for PRAYER. Her rosary and all the other devotions. Look to St. Louis Marie DeMontfort. NOWHERE does he every direct us to meditate and hear God speak to us through the mind or heart. I think this is a ploy by the enemy to get us to stop praying and just listen. I think this is very poor insight to our prayer life. Active prayer!

    Tim

  • John Jensen

    One has thought of that :-) The temptation to think myself as advanced as that – for my understanding from spiritual writers, like St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross, is that the dark night of the soul is for those advanced in the spiritual life – and that those are the ones who are advanced in charity – the temptation to think of myself like that is somewhat offset when I reflect on my petty uncharitableness with just about everyone :-)

    But in any case, the advice is the same as yours – keep walking by faith, seek to love Him and my neighbour – and not worry about it.

    I was only moved by the topic of this post to respond as it is something that makes my heart ache, at times, to feel so deaf to Him.

    jj

  • rana257

    After a long and often painful relationship with God…I can hear his voice. I would suggest that if God opened the sky and talked with us as we think He ought there would be no room for mercy. Lets say God asks us to do something and we say “no” how could we find excuse?

  • Karen

    John, this is profound and beautiful. In it, I think you answer your own question of how God speaks to you. I know this will probably frustrate you, but I think perhaps the answer is that God *is* speaking to you in your thoughts and inspirations, but you keep looking for the clear delineations (“This is God speaking now..” ; and “this is a John thought only now” –and it just doesn’t work like that….At least most of the time.
    Peace!

  • disqus_BK27FkoO65

    John, I think God has spoken to you plenty of times. The problem is that for you the Lord seems to speak to you by leading and guiding, not so much in articulate speech. I say this because of your Faith journey. You went from not knowing God to becoming a believer and a member of the Catholic Church (I am in the Anglican community). How and why did you do that if you were not led by the Holy Spirit of Wisdom?

    Did you “run into” people who said the right thing at the right time to open your heart ton Christ? That’s the Lord speaking through leading. That happened to me. That’s what led me to salvation.

    Did you read some Scripture that spoke directly through to your Heart? That is how the Lord completed the steps that got me to confess myself to be a sinner and embrace Christ.

    The speaking of God to us in the written Word is called Logos dialogue while the speaking of God to us in other ways that involve the illumination of the ordinary is called Rhema dialogue. That along with the Traditions of the holy men and women of God that we read in the lives of the saints is the Three fold way that we hear from God.

    I hear from the Lord in all three ways and I believe you do also. It’s just that the Holy One speaks in the still, small voice of the interior and we can miss that very easily. Why? Because we don’t understand that “the Kingdom of God is within you” as Jesus said. That means God speaks to us from the inside out, not the outside in. The Holy Spirit resides within us as believers and breathes out with every breath we take as living Temples of the Most High.

    The challenge is to recognize that dialogue coming from the Spirit inside of us that touches our souls which is the psyche. So, of course, we are going to have thoughts come to us, shaped by that Holy Presence, such as the one you got: A ‘word’ came into my mind: “If I spoke to you, would you pay any attention to Me?”

    Our minds and emotions (psyche/soul) are the notepaper that the Lord writes on to lead and guide us. God wrote you a note on your mind. You read it. Now, what will you write Him back?

  • disqus_BK27FkoO65

    Tim, I think you need both. Prayer is a dialogue. Meditation is the core of the Rosary and all prayer. The Bible tells us over and over again in the Psalms to “Selah”-which means, pause and reflect on what we are hearing. Our Lady told Lucia to pause and reflect for at least 15 minutes during the Rosary on the mysteries. Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises asked that we actively and deeply meditate on the Scriptures and have dialogues with the participants in Faith:

    Why?

    CONTEMPLATION TO GAIN LOVE

    Note. First, it is well to remark two things: the first is that love ought to be put more in deeds than in words.

    The second, love consists in interchange between the two parties; that is to say in the lover’s giving and communicating to the beloved what he has or out of what he has or can; and so, on the contrary, the beloved to the lover. So that if the one has knowledge, he give to the one who has it not. The same of honors, of riches; and so the one to the other.

    To pray is to dialogue with the one we love. That’s what the saints say. That’s what the Word says.

  • disqus_BK27FkoO65

    I think the biggest problem is that we do not understand how God speaks. So when the Lord does, we miss it.

    This is what Saint Ignatius of Loyola says:

    CONTEMPLATION TO GAIN LOVE

    Prayer. The usual Prayer.

    First Prelude. The first Prelude is a composition, which is here to see how I am standing before God our Lord, and of the Angels and of the Saints interceding for me.

    Second Prelude. The second, to ask for what I want. It will be here to ask for interior knowledge of so great good received, in order that being entirely grateful, I may be able in all to love and serve His Divine Majesty.

    First Point. The First Point is, to bring to memory the benefits received, of Creation, Redemption and particular gifts, pondering with much feeling how much God our Lord has done for me, and how much He has given me of what He has, and then the same Lord desires to give me Himself as much as He can, according to His Divine ordination.

    And with this to reflect on myself, considering with much reason and justice, what I ought on my side to offer and give to His Divine Majesty, that is to say, everything that is mine, and myself with it, as one who makes an offering with much feeling:

    Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my intellect, and all my will—all that I have and possess. Thou gavest it to me: to Thee, Lord, I return it! All is Thine, dispose of it according to all Thy will. Give me Thy love and grace, for this is enough for me.

    Second Point. The second, to look how God dwells in creatures, in the elements, giving them being, in the plants vegetating, in the animals feeling in them, in men giving them to understand:21 and so in me, giving me being, animating me, giving me sensation and making me to understand;22 likewise making a temple of me, being created to the likeness and image of His Divine Majesty; reflecting as much on myself in the way which is said in the first Point, or in another which I feel to be better. In the same manner will be done on each Point which follows.

    Third Point. The third, to consider how God works and labors for me in all things created on the face of the earth—that is, behaves like one who labors—as in the heavens, elements, plants, fruits, cattle, etc., giving them being, preserving them, giving them vegetation and sensation, etc.

    Then to reflect on myself.

    Fourth Point. The fourth, to look how all the good things and gifts descend from above, as my poor power from the supreme and infinite power from above; and so justice, goodness, pity, mercy, etc.; as from the sun descend the rays, from the fountain the waters, etc.

    Then to finish reflecting on myself, as has been said.

  • disqus_BK27FkoO65

    But He speaks all the time! Haven’t you felt unseen comfort at times that comes out of nowhere? Haven’t you struggled with something and then suddenly gotten relief out of the blue? Haven’t you heard the right song at the right time that answered a prayer? Haven’t you gotten small tiny gifts of grace and tenderness that lifts you up when you feel down? God makes a home inside of us when we are Christians. The Lord is right there within us right now. As Saint Paul says, “Christ in us the Hope of Glory.” As the Apostle goes on to say in Romans 10

    4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.

    5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law: that “the man who doeth those things shall live by them.”

    6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh in this manner: “Say not in thine heart, ‘Who shall ascend into Heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above)

    7 or, “‘Who shall descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead).

    8 But what saith it? “The Word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart,” that is, the word of faith which we preach:

    9 that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

    10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

    11 For the Scripture saith, “Whosoever believeth in Him shall not be ashamed.”

  • disqus_BK27FkoO65

    Romans 10:8 But what saith it? “The Word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart,” that is, the word of faith which we preach:

    The Kingdom of God is within us. That is the Mystery of the Holy Spirit and the Mystery of the Most Blessed Sacrament-that Christ within is the Hope of Glory.

    We hold this Treasure in earthen vessels. What is this Treasure? Christ the Lord within us.

    Over and over again the Logos Word teaches us that we are to live in the knowledge that the Spirit of God is within us now to teach, console, guide and heal. That is the core of prophecy as Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 14. We pray for the Holy Spirit to lead, teach and guide us but then when the Spirit of Wisdom does just that, we still don’t understand that God is speaking to us by leading us by that Interior Presence.

    Pray to Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity. She is the patron saint of Interior Life and between her and Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint Ignatius of Loyola, I believe that God will solve your dilemma of hearing God in ways that will be more clear for you.

  • disqus_BK27FkoO65

    Here is what Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity wrote

    O my God, Trinity whom I adore, let me entirely forget myself that I may abide in you, still and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity; let nothing disturb my peace nor separate me from you, O my unchanging God, but that each moment may take me further into the depths of your mystery ! Pacify my soul! Make it your heaven, your beloved home and place of your repose ; let me never leave you there alone, but may I be ever attentive, ever alert in my faith, ever adoring and all given up to your creative action.

    O my beloved Christ, crucified for love, would that I might be for you a spouse of your heart! I would anoint you with glory, I would love you – even unto death! Yet I sense my frailty and ask you to adorn me with yourself; identify my soul with all the movements of your soul, submerge me, overwhelm. me, substitute yourself in me that my life may become but a reflection of your life. Come into me as Adorer, Redeemer and Saviour.

    O Eternal Word, Word of my God, would that I might spend my life listening to you, would that I might be fully receptive to learn all from you ; in all darkness, all loneliness, all weakness, may I ever keep my eyes fixed on you and abide under your great light; O my Beloved Star, fascinate me so that I may never be able to leave your radiance.

    O Consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, descend into my soul and make all in me as an incarnation of the Word, that I may be to him a super-added humanity wherein he renews his mystery ; and you O Father, bestow yourself and bend down to your little creature, seeing in her only your beloved Son in whom you are well pleased.

    O my Three, my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in whom I lose myself, I give myself to you as a prey to be consumed ; enclose yourself in me that I may be absorbed in you so as to contemplate in your light the abyss of your Splendour !

  • John Jensen

    Lee – I think the problem is, how do I know that these moments of unseen comfort – or whatever – are not simply self-generated? How do I distinguish between what is simply of me and what is from God?

    jj

  • John Jensen

    I think – or fear :-) – that you are right. It may be that I am looking for what I cannot have – experienced certainty of God’s presence with me.

    jj

  • John Jensen

    Perfectly true. As I said, I know by faith that there is nothing that comes to me that is not from God – either by His direct command or His permission.

    But it does seem to me that some people experience something else: an experienced certainty that this or that is from God. I sometimes wish I did…

    jj

  • Gayle Lynn

    John, I am praying for you. Remember that there is Holiness in our suffering. Keep praying, with a grateful heart for all your blessings. I tell my children, God does not give us more if we aren’t grateful for what we already have!
    Pray for discernment. I imagine He will reveal himself to you in a most special way that only YOU could understand. It will be beautiful, a divine gift! God bless you!

  • mark

    Would it be possible if I asked God NOT to talk to me he won’t? I don’t want to experience him.

  • Aqueous3

    God dwells within me with his son as
    my earthly mentor

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