1. Desire the ability to discern. This is not the spiritual gift of discernment, which many feel is the ability to sense when something or someone is of God or not. This is more a discernment that falls under John's charge to "test the spirits" (1 Jn. 4:1). When you receive a prompting, ask God for the ability to discern whether it is from Him.
2. Ask God to make you sensitive to His Spirit. If you haven't asked, don't expect God to answer (Jas. 4:2)!
3. Check your motives. Why do you want the ability to discern? If it is for your own profit, you will not receive it (Jas. 4:3).
4. Believe that God will answer your prayer. Doubting will cause you to fail to receive the wisdom you are requesting (Jas. 1:5–7). If you want to believe but are having doubts that God will answer, make your prayer, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mk. 9:24).
5. Become a serious student of the Word. You should develop a good enough grasp of Scripture that it becomes fairly easy for you to immediately recognize a thought that isn't scriptural (Ps. 1:2, Acts 17:11, 2 Tim. 2:15).
6. Start a journal. Jot down all of your impressions you feel may be from God. Leave room under each impression to record later insights (e.g., what Scripture says on the topic, confirmations received, etc.). You will be less inhibited if you choose not to allow others to read what you write. Don't be too hard on yourself when you "fail." Every failure brings you one step closer to learning to hear God more clearly.
7. Spend time with spiritually sensitive believers (Prov. 13:20, Heb. 10:24). This is important regardless of where you are in your ability to discern, but it can be especially helpful for those just beginning to hear the voice of God. Others may often sense the same thing you do; not only will that help you to determine whether you're hearing God, but it will also increase your faith.
8. Start small. For example, if God prompts you to call someone, do it! His or her response will often confirm whether you were being prompted to call. Your obedience in small things will open the door to greater opportunities in the future (Mt. 25:21).
9. Make a commitment to obey the prompting. Why should God speak to you if you aren't going to do what He says? Knowing and doing go hand in hand (Jn. 14:21, Heb. 3:15).
10. Be cautious, especially when the prompting impresses you to tell others to do something. Much damage has been done in the kingdom by "prophets" saying God has revealed to them that a person should do a particular thing. Always ask God for confirmation. If you approach the person, do so with a humble heart. Rather than saying, "God told me . . ." say, "I believe the Lord is revealing . . .." Or, pray with him or her. Pray something like, "God, I sense You are revealing that ____ should ____. If that is so, please confirm that to _____. Give ____ the ability to test this prompting."
Copyright by Rebecca Livermore, a Christian speaker and writer from Denver, Colorado. Her passion is helping people grow spiritually. To read more of her articles, visit http://www.rebeccalivermore.com or her AC page at http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/60801/rebecca_livermore.html .
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