Question: "How can I know if I am hearing God, hearing Satan, or hearing my own thoughts?"
Answer: Life is full of decisions we must make that do not have absolute, specific-by-name, how-to directions in the Bible. How many hours a day should my kids watch TV? Is it okay to play shoot-ʼem-up video games? Am I allowed to go on a date with a co-worker? Does God get mad if I miss work because I stayed up too late the night before? We all have notions about the truth, but how do we know for sure that these ideas are coming from a Divine Source? Sometimes distinguishing our own ideas from God’s leading is difficult. And what if our urges are actually coming from the enemy of our souls and not from God? How do we “take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5) when we aren’t sure where the thoughts are coming from?
The most common ways God communicates are through the Bible and the leadings of the Holy Spirit. Also, God can use a godly mentor to provide wise counsel (Proverbs 12:15). If God wants to speak to us, nothing can stop Him.
If we are confused about whose voice we are hearing, it is good to pray for wisdom (James 1:5). We should ask God to clearly make His will known to us. When we pray, we “must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6). If we have no faith, we “should not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:7).
Talk to God in prayer and earnestly wait for His response. However, keep in mind that sometimes He doesn’t give us all the answers we desire. He knows what we need to know at any given time, and He will tell us if it is best.
Study the Word
Reading the Bible is the primary way God speaks to us. It is also the best way to learn about God’s character and His dealings with people throughout history. All Scripture is “breathed out by God” and is the guide for a righteous life (2 Timothy 3:16). While we speak to God in prayer, He speaks to us through His Word. As we read, we must consider the words to be the very words of God…
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