What is it like to "hear" an answer to prayers?

January 20, 2009 | Conversion, Prayer | 71 comments

I actually found myself with about 45 minutes of extra free time this afternoon, so I thought I’d quickly touch on this great question I just got in response to my last post. Reader Marissa, a former atheist, writes:

You said you “heard” an answer during prayer. What is that like? Is it like a thought in your head that didn’t come from you? (as weird as that sounds) Do you hear another voice in your head that isn’t the sound of your own thinking? Is it different for everyone and you just have to figure it out for yourself? I’m a bit flummoxed by all this, after years of atheism.

I love questions like this. In fact, this was something I used to wonder about a lot. When I would read blogs where Christians would talk about how they were “guided” to do this or that in prayer, or hear people announce that they were taking a certain course of action because it was God’s will for them, I could not imagine how they were getting this information. Was God sending them text messages or telegrams or something? Because when I prayed all I ever heard was either silence or my own racing thoughts.

Though I still have much to learn, I think I’m beginning to understand it a bit more.

When I talk about “hearing” God tell me to do something, I almost never mean that I literally heard a specific, identifiable voice addressing me in the third person (that did happen once, but it’s not something I regularly experience). Rather, it’s more of a sense of my thoughts being gently, almost imperceptibly guided down a specific path. Ideas might come to mind that I had not considered before and may even be foreign to my usual way of thinking; or I might suddenly feel overwhelmed with perfect certainty that a certain option is the right one; or I might gain a completely fresh perspective on the situation that I’d never seen before; etc. The more I am able to clear my mind (which has taken a LOT of practice since I tend toward ADD and always have a racing mind), the more I am able to “hear” these inspirations.

Now, this begs the question, “How do you know that’s God and not just some stuff you came up with on your own?”

The truth is, there’s no 100% guarantee that I’m not influencing the process and hearing what I want to hear. There’s also the possibility that it’s an inspiration from a more malevolent force (not to sound like a crazy church lady, but it’s important to remember that the devil is real and works actively to keep us away from God). This is why it’s important to be informed about the proper discernment process for accurately “detecting” God’s communications with you*, as well as enlisting the counsel of a quality spiritual director if possible.

However, with practice, you will probably develop a natural sense of what it feels like when God is leading you somewhere and won’t need to analyze it extensively each time. For example, when I’ve heard what I believe to be clear answers to prayers lately I could provide a checklist of logical reasons that I think they’re from God and not from my own mind: e.g. the idea was something that had never once occurred to me before, it came to me suddenly during prayer without any thoughts of my own leading up to it, it ended up bringing me closer to God, etc. But while those factors are important, the main reason I believe that those ideas were God’s answers to my prayers is because they brought with them a certain unmistakable peace. It’s a peace that only God can give, something I never experienced through my own efforts when I was an atheist, that I’ve slowly come to know and recognize these past few years. It’s a distinct mixture of love and trust and calm, and when you feel it it’s like smelling God’s cologne as he passes by.

A big lesson for me was that developing a relationship with God is much like developing a relationship with anyone: it takes time, and the more effort you put into it, the more you will understand the other person involved, and the more the relationship will grow. Keep praying — even if it feels like you’re talking to yourself, even if you have doubts and feel like you’re getting nowhere. Pray and ask for help getting to know God. You will receive it.

That’s the answer based on my experience. How would you answer Marissa’s question? In as much specific detail as possible, how would you describe what it’s like to “hear” God’s voice in your life?


* Anyone have any good links with more information about that process? For example, an authentic call from God would never involve sin, would never leave you feeling angry or unsettled, would never contradict the Bible, etc. but I couldn’t find a link to offer that summarizes that. The books Finding God’s Will for You, Introduction to the Devout Life and The Fire Within do a great job of covering this topic. Anyone else have suggestions?

71 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Jen:

    What a blessing! When you recently posted that you had lost your online list of ideas for your blog and solicited your readers, I mentioned answers to prayer. So, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic.

    Although I have never heard an “out loud” voice in response to prayers or pleas, I have had what might be called an “inner locution”. What I experienced could be equated to a voice, but I heard it “interiorly” only. I’ve only experienced this twice.

    Once I received a direct answer to a question that I had posed while mulling over my faith. I received an immediate response the very moment that the question formed in my head, and this “voice” seemed to interrupt my thoughts – as if to “talk over” me. I even posed a follow-up question, but received no other response. I’ve thought about it many times, and I know that it wasn’t me or my own thoughts, as it was something I never would have come up with, and certainly not with that degree of speed.

    Other times, I feel that God has answered my prayers through others. I’ve learned more and more that He does indeed listen to us, because I feel He answers me even in small things every day. I have felt spiritual dryness as well, but I think my big lesson in life is to learn to trust Him, and I’m trying very hard to do so in all circumstances.

    Jen G

  2. Lana

    no links or profound contributions, really. just a testimony of gentle “nudging” that I believe was Divine at its source: Yesterday throughout Mass, I was so confused and anxious and felt like my mind was muddled. I kept begging for help. I got a few clear “thoughts” through what was preached and read, but by the end of Mass, I realized there had been a growing desire to spend time reading Scripture. I think this was the answer to my ‘prayer’, somehow. Not a specific passage, but a guidance towards help. Maybe it is the quiet reflection, maybe the words, maybe something totally different that will end up clearing my mind of this anxiety.

  3. Gregaria

    A priest once said during a homily that discernment takes three legs to stand on, like a stool: what you want to do, what your family and friends think is the wisest decision, and what God wants you to do. If God’s will isn’t clear (or even if it is mostly clear), I always consult people I trust (who won’t tell me to do something sinful and are fairly reasonable and logical) and I think about what I really want to do. I have to be careful because sometimes what I want is sinful. But, I’ve also heard that God gives us our deepest desires as gifts to lead us towards what He wants for us. For instance, if a person has a deep desire to become a mother, then that is probably a desire placed in her heart by God to lead her toward that Vocation. All of Jen’s advice should be taken into account as well.

    And I cannot emphasize how important Peace is. I’ve chosen to do things I didn’t feel at peace with and ended up really, really regretting them. God brought good out of those situations, but if I had my life to live over again, I know I’d choose to follow the peace in discernment every time.

  4. Bender

    You give an excellent answer Jen. And your experiences pretty much mirror my own.

    I would only offer this from the Confessions of St. Augustine (Book II, ch. 2-3) —

    I was in a ferment of wickedness. I deserted You and allowed myself to be carried away by the sweep of the tide. * * * But in my mother’s heart you had already begun to build Your temple and laid the foundations of Your holy dwelling * * * How presumptuous it was of me to say that You were silent, my God, when it was I who drifted farther and farther away from You! Can it be true that You said nothing to me at that time? Surely the words which rang in my ears, spoken by Your faithful servant, my mother, could have come from none but You? Yet none of them sank into my heart to make me do as You said. * * * It all seemed womanish advice to me and I should have blushed to accept it. Yet the words were Yours, though I did not know it. I thought that You were silent and that she was speaking, but all the while, You were speaking to me through her, and when I disregarded her, your handmaid, I was disregard­ing You, though I was both her son and Your servant.

    God “speaks” to us in a variety of ways. The trick is to be able to hear Him given the overwhelming cacophony of noise that is modern life because He usually does not shout.

    For example, there was this reading from Mass from a few months ago. Elijah was told to go stand on a certain mountain because the Lord was going to pass by:
    Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
    — 1 Kings 19:11-13.

  5. Michele Quigley

    I think your answer is spot on. This is exactly how I experience answer to prayer. I call it a “sense” and while it’s always subject to scrutiny, peace is certainly a marker.

  6. Marissa

    Wow, thanks for posting an answer so quickly! That probably would have taken me hours! Though I guess with three kids and a husband to look after, you get in the practice of writing what you need to in the time you have. *grins*

    For me, the most obvious instance of God talking to me was when I realized He was there. I was reading a scientific article, then I heard a “snap!” in my mind, and all these answers and feelings came flooding in, overwhelming me so much I started physically shaking. After that, I could see Him, see His Signs in everything, everywhere I looked. The atheistic mindset is just as alien and strange to me now as the theistic mindset was to me before.

    I have also had those moments where a thought pops into my head, and it’s something not at all in the vein of what I was thinking about before. They’ve usually been things that helped me understand God better, but in the beginning, I thought it was just me being sooo clever and smart in intuiting what God is about. hahaha! Usually these are accompanied by strong emotion that makes me weep, and I will be the first to tell you I hate crying, but I can’t seem to help it, nor do I mind, in these cases.

    It seems to me that when I try too hard, I don’t get anything. I suppose in those cases, I’m trying to “make” God give me something to go on, which is not gonna work. In a contest between me and Him, guess who wins? 🙂 Or I’m trying so hard, that I’m not really listening. I guess it’s kinda like when I’m reading, I can’t really hear anything anyone is saying to me. When I’m focused a lot on wanting an answer, I’m not really open to actually hearing it.

    Thank you again, Jennifer! Your post has made me realize God talks to me a lot more than I thought. I was kinda pitying myself in that regard. But of course I’m also really eager to learn what everyone else has to say, too. Anything to help us all grow!

  7. Shannon

    I take a page from the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises and take stock at the end of the day with two questions: For what am I most grateful today? For what am I least grateful. I keep my answers in a journal and ask God to bless the next day. Over time, I find that my answers to those questions reveal a good deal about how God is working with me in the midst of my life.

    You can read more in “Sleeping with Bread” by Dennis, Matthew, and Sheila Linn.

  8. Hannah

    That’s really interesting – you describe things so well! At the moment, I’m afraid the only bit I can identify with is the crazy rushing thoughts. But sometimes trying to pray calms down the rushing, if nothing else.

  9. Anonymous

    I totally agree with you. It’s not just about hearing a voice or an impression of a voice. It’s also about feeling a presence and a sense of love, peace, and rightness that is so true and so real it leaves no room for fear of self-delusion, craziness, or a maleficent agent. You just know. You can’t deny it. Even if you don’t want to believe it, because perhaps you’re still an atheist in your head, too bad, you simply can’t deny it. It can be so clear and amazing it brings me to tears in the middle of some ordinary occupation when I was thinking about something entirely different.

    Hearing a voice or getting a clear sense of mental direction is perhaps more a matter of personal style, maybe? Intuitive people may not need that voice, they may get what they need from just a sense or a dream. Physical types may feel it in the pit of their stomach. God works in the most efficient way for each individual.

  10. Chris C.

    I had a hard time thinking God was ever speaking to me, but when I read “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis, it at least gave me a good idea of what God wouldn’t be saying. Sometimes it’s good to know what something isn’t.

  11. Anonymous

    I can give an example. I had a problem and was praying about what to do. I wanted to know how to solve it. Like nusic playing softly in the background I kept “talk to your father”. I wasn’t listening to the background music because I wanted to know how I could fix it, not ask for help. Plus, I wasn’t getting along with my father at the time.
    But God is all about relationship and is oh so effecient.I was talking about the problem with my spiritual director at the time and he asked had I prayed about it.I said yup. He asked what had come of that and I all I could think of was the “background music”. It is here that I differ with Jen a bit. I was not at peace with this idea of asking for help from my father at all! My spiritual director encouraged me to go to my father
    AAAh. MY PRIDE! It was very difficult.
    But what transpired changed our relationship. It changed me and and it changed my father forever. It healed our relationship and helped us grow as individuals in so many ways.
    Now when I pray I bring my praise and concerns to the Lord. I sit and am still and sometimes God “wafts” through. For me I am presented by a thought that is new. Something I had not imagined. And for me it is very often something I do not want to do or is something I find difficult. Sometimes it is consolation. But always something that will help me grow and depend more on God and less on me. But that is my journey, that is what I need right now to become closer to God. At the beginning of my prayer life there was LOTS of consolation. Now, not so much. That is what is so cool. God speaks to us as individuals. He talks to me. He talks to Jen. He talks to you. He talks to us here and now.

  12. Tres Angelas

    My wife, Jessica, is more inclined to revelations of this nature than I am. I hear a commanding voice at times, too, but it’s usually Jessica’s.

    Kidding. Well, partly. She’s more likely than I to see God’s hand in an event and recognize it as divine will.

    Something we’ve both experienced — and it happens most frequently in church — is to suddenly be struck (as in, thunderstruck) by a realization. As in, “Oh, yeah, of course that’s the answer. Thank you.”

  13. Sara

    I don’t know if I would have come up with such a good explanation, but I would describe it just like that!

  14. Tami Boesiger

    I know I’ve heard from God when I start to get the same message from many sources–friends will say something that goes along with what I’ve heard, Bible study lessons will lead me to the same conclusion, songs or sermons will highlight the same Truths. At times I feel bombarded. I know if this happens it is God getting my attention. Most importantly, any message from Him NEVER contradicts Biblical truth.

  15. Tammy

    Your answers are right on the money Jennifer. I’m so glad you are able to express it so well. Just recently I had been struggling with a family issue and it was weighing very heavily on my heart. I had been praying for reconciliation yet I could not take the first step, I was still very angry and hurt about it all. At mass, all of a sudden, I knew that today was the day and I had to go home and make that phone call. I did not “hear” a voice yet within me I knew very well our Lord had spoken and this was what I had to do…today! There was no more fretting over it, hurting over it or pondering it. It was very clear and I went home and did as I was told. The healing has begun and I’m so thankful for answered prayers.

  16. jannie_b

    Hearing an answer to prayer: here is one experience.

    In 2004, I was trying to make a decision as to whether to homeschool one of my children, then in 4th Grade. At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom with two boys in school. I had recently moved to the US from Canada and had not been familiar with homeschooling prior to the move. But I was starting to feel that this child was not being well-served by his otherwise excellent public school.

    I knew that homeschooling would fundamentally change my life. I was a school volunteer and had lots of time to work on personal projects and run the household. I am an introvert and need a fair bit of quiet and calm to recharge my batteries. Homeschooling would change all that.

    I was at noon mass one weekday and before it started, I decided to ask God to tell me what I should do.

    Two things happened:

    Sign #1. The gospel proclaimed at that mass was from Matthew 7. “13. Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. 14. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” I took this as a sign that God wanted me to choose the narrow gate, the one that would be more constricting to me, but would “lead to life”. How true I was to learn this to be.

    Sign #2. I met a woman at church who is the mother of 8 (at the time) and homeschools. She pointed me to a homeschooling support group in our parish that I was completely unaware of.

    I believe that God heard my prayer and placed these signs before me as His answer.

    Hope this is helpful!

  17. tootie

    This is such a good post! I still wonder, at times, about this very topic.

    I agree with you that sometimes we’re lead to do something that we might not have originally thought of.

    And I think that sometimes God speaks to us through other people. Maybe something that someone else says strikes a chord with us, and we find special meaning in it.

  18. SteveG

    I think it’s important that we acknowledge that God does indeed work/speak through our ‘own’ interior voice at times (most of the time?).

    We do however have to understand this in the context that all our thoughts are greatly influenced by the paradigm with which we choose to view the world.

    Take a person who is an avowed atheist.

    They will likely read atheist books, spend their time with atheist friends, and otherwise fills their thoughts with the material of non-belief.

    That person will, by choice, have created a filter process in their brain which will cause most of their thoughts (almost by definition) to be ‘non’ Godly thoughts.

    Flip that now.

    Take a person who is a devout believer. They are in the habit of reading great spiritual works, meditating on scripture, praying regularly, spending time and engaging in conversation with believers, and otherwise filling their thoughts with God.

    This person will put on an entirely different filter in which they will be very likely to experience ‘Godly’ thoughts.

    This I think is what St. Paul would call ‘Putting on the mind of Christ’ (Philippians 2:5-11)

    Let me give a hypothetical but practical example.

    Let’s say that one morning during prayer time, one reads a scripture passage in which Christ enjoins us to “Feed the hungry.” Later that day, as this person is taking a walk, they encounter a person begging for money.

    This can often be a troubling thing. One feels that we are supposed to ‘give to those who beg’(Luke 6:30). At the same time we are very aware that money given will likely go to something not so great for this person (drugs? Alcohol?).

    So this person says a little prayer asking what to do.

    Immediately, intuitively, they ‘hear’ the words of Christ to feed the hungry and suddenly they have the answer. Instead of giving money, they stop by the neighborhood deli, grab a sandwich and take it to this person (who does indeed look very thin and hungry).

    I think this kind of insight, made possible by that putting on the mind of Christ, by training our minds to think in Christ like terms, is what very often is happening when we hear our prayers answered.

    So, what happened there? Is this God ‘answering’ my prayer? Of course it is. He is simply using (as typical) the material (our brain) which He has made to do the job. I don’t think this should trouble us in the least.

    Do we hear His voice? Most definitely (what else are the words of scripture but the voice of God?).

    Of course there are those times when it really is more like a third person voice out of nowhere than like what I’ve described. I suspect that occurrence is typically fairly rare even if most of us have experienced it on occasion.

    I guess the bottom line here is in looking at Jennifer’s wonderful post, I think we should take this..

    The truth is, there’s no 100% guarantee that I’m not influencing the process and hearing what I want to hear.

    …for granted, and assume that we are influencing the process.

    The key here though is to put on the mind of Christ (through prayer, reading, relationships, etc.) so that the influence we bring to bear will be soaked in God’s presence. So that the answers we get to our prayers are indeed ‘from God.’

  19. Shelly W

    I think you did an excellent job of explaining this, Jennifer. The little “thoughts” that just pop up in your head or the thinking that is slightly different from your normal way of thinking . . . I think you’ve got it. And I especially liked that you admit that there’s no way we can be 100% sure that it’s God speaking to us, but the more we get to know Him, the more we know what He would like.

    I think we need to practice listening, and then acting on what we hear. (A few days ago I wrote a blog post about an experience I had with this very thing last year. Just a little example of “hearing” and then “doing.”)

  20. Anonymous

    Jen,

    Thank you for this post. This is a crucially important question to answer correctly, due to the effects of pseudo-spiritual delusions in the mentally ill. My mother suffers from schizophrenia, and ever since 1976, has periodically received messages from God or experienced an auditory hallucination that she believed was from God. All too often Christians talk about being led by God or being spoken to by God without really explaining what is meant by that. When my mother participates in these conversations, she does not understand that the types of communications she is receiving are not exactly the same as those described by Christians who are not mentally ill. It helps for her to remember that being spoken to by God should not leave her feeling frightened or angry or some other negative emotion. However, that’s not enough to make a useful distinction. After questioning her carefully, I understand the situation better, and I would like to offer a general clarification that would probably be useful for anyone who is mentally ill and struggling to interpret conflicted voices and messages. (By the way, psychotic “voices” don’t necessarily take the form of physical auditory hallucinations, which makes everything more complicated.)

    Here is what I have told my mother–God’s voice or always comes from within you, from the same space as your own thoughts, and is experienced as an “aha” moment. You may feel that it is unlikely that you would have come up with such a thought on your own, but it doesn’t actually feel like a voice or a message that is coming from *outside* of you, the way, say, your husband’s voice comes from outside of you. We do have stories of saints and people from the bible conversing externally with God, but as Catholic Christians we are taught that our primary encounters with God are from within us and from within other people, and so the voice that comes from within, and which seems to guide you toward greater holiness is the one that should be listened to.

    In my opinion, Christians have a great responsibility not to “overdo” the whole “talking with God” thing. Nearly 1 percent of our population are afflicted with schizophrenia. I do find that Christians can get downright competitive when sharing about how directly God talks to them, and use very literal language, but I really think that if you experience the voice of God in an external way, it’s best to keep it to yourself, and also to view it with great skepticism. Until you’ve seen the suffering of someone in the throes of psychosis who is trying very hard to listen to and obey the “voice” that is inside of her, you can’t understand how damaging this aspect of “pop Christianity” can become. Besides, the bible admonishes us NOT to base our belief on miracles and charims, but on the word of God and on the sacraments.

  21. just

    At the time of my conversion, I was leaving a very legalist protestant denomination and going through a major life change. I had to get used to the idea that what I was hearing from God, loudly, was very often going to break what I thought were the rules. Only they weren’t His rules.
    Before my conversion, I would be impressed with very specific instructions sometimes, which jived very closely with my spiritual gifts, so it made sense. But there wasn’t really a relationship there.
    God has revealed himself to me most clearly through a small group of people who walk alongside me. Now that I know Him better, it is generally pretty obvious what He is saying. I am very involved in the local parish and spiritual direction and reconciliation and pursuing a vocation, so I have a pretty good system of checks and balances set up.
    I do wonder sometimes if I am just making it up, but if I am, and whatever it is fits in with the whole system of orthodox spirituality, then I can rejoice that I must be growing in holiness 🙂

  22. Carly

    I don’t want to imply a simple answer to a complex question and I think you’ve already explained it SO well.

    That said, I have always liked this somewhat simple method of discerning God’s will.

    In this method three things need to be lined up in order to consider if what was “heard” was from the Lord.

    1) It must not break a Commandment.
    2) It must be practical in your present life circumstances.
    3) It must be something you desire or be leading you to something you desire.

    I know the third confuses some people but the thought behind it is that if we’re earnestly and honestly seeking the Lord’s will, then He will adjust our thinking in such a way that ours will align with His. Following that logic, we will have a desire and conviction to do that which He leads us to.

    I’ve also used the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola for the discernment of God’s will.

  23. Kevin

    Your experience of “hearing” God exactly mirrors my own; up to and including having heard what sounded like a “voice” in my head exactly one time, but mostly the new thoughts, the feeling as if they’re being guided, and the peace are indeed real. There’s also an enormous sense of joy that I sometimes get when it seems that I’ve finally managed to conform my will to His – for the moment, at least.

  24. Hannah

    Excellent post. Listening to the Holy Spirit is an on going process that we have to learn daily. I am so glad you are writing about such tough but essential issues. I am reminded of the News Boys song “It’s just a spirit thing…”

    Hannah

  25. Tres Angelas

    OK, I have to ask — can you tell us more about your experience with “a specific, identifiable voice addressing me…”?

    I’ve never had an epiphany that couldn’t be explained away as a product of my thoughts or imagination. Certainly nothing auditory.

    “Don’t you think that’s a tad personal?” and “Wait for the book,” would both be reasonable reactions on your part.

  26. Jess

    Good post, Jen. For those of us who are still trying to get into the daily practice of prayer and feel natural while doing it this was good information.

  27. 'Becca

    I think you’re right that the peace, love, trust, and sense of clarity that accompany God’s guidance help you to recognize it. And you’re right that there’s no 100% guarantee!

    when I’ve heard what I believe to be clear answers to prayers lately I could provide a checklist of logical reasons that I think they’re from God and not from my own mind: e.g. the idea was something that had never once occurred to me before, it came to me suddenly during prayer without any thoughts of my own leading up to it, it ended up bringing me closer to God, etc.

    While I think those are valid arguments in favor of particular ideas having come from God, I’d be wary of thinking all guidance from God has to meet that checklist. Sometimes I’ve rejected an idea over and over again for the most logical and/or selfish reasons, only to have God come along and nudge me: “No, seriously, do that!” 🙂

    I know that, for example, an authentic call from God would never involve sin, would never leave you feeling angry or unsettled, would never contradict the Bible, etc.

    I don’t think it’s quite that simple. Yes, God will not call you to commit a sin (your wording is sloppy there–God’s call might well *involve* sin, by telling you to knock it off–but I know what you meant), but you might have misunderstood something to be a sin (perhaps because of false teachings) that God wants you to do. Similarly, you might have misunderstood what the Bible says, so that the thing you feel called to do contradicts the Bible as you understood it. Our limited human minds can make these things confusing!

    But most importantly, I think it’s quite possible for God’s guidance to leave you feeling angry or unsettled AT FIRST. There’s a good example in the story linked behind my name: I heard God calling me to question my anger, but my first reaction was FURY at the very idea that my anger might be unjustified. Many more times, I’ve felt unsettled by God’s call even as I feel it pulling me: “But I can’t do that! I have this reason and that reason! What will my friends say?! Can I really do this?” Not feeling fully at peace with the idea doesn’t mean the Peace is not there; it means that the darker parts of your self are resisting it. Time and prayer will work through that.

  28. Tara Sz.

    Great post, Jen, and I agree with your assessment of hearing God. If I could emphasize one point, it would be the PEACE. A thought from the LORD, whether it’s inner locution or an outright Third Party Voice, always brings tremendous, supernatural PEACE.

    I might add that often it’s something that is not typical of oneself. I remember discerning religious life with my spiritual director, and I had all these thoughts and options and opinions on where to go and who to visit. My director said, “Tara, which one is from God?” And I paused, then calmly replied, “Call the Franciscans.” She asked how I knew it was of the LORD, and I said, because it brings me peace, and because it tells me to wait and call tomorrow morning. If it was of Tara, it would say run out to the car and call her right now! The LORD gives me a patience I don’t normally have. 🙂

    And hey! It’s good to hear from SteveG again!!

    Blessings to all,
    Tara

  29. Ken & Carol

    Wow, I actually read your whole post and the comments too. I’ve never come across a blog entry where that was worthwhile. Well done. Thanks. Now, of course, I’ve gone and spoiled your blog. Sorry.

  30. Kalquessa

    I do experience a lot of difficulty in “hearing” God’s voice for some of the reasons you list (I still need practice making my own brain shut up) but for me it’s always been very similar to what I experience when I’m working on a story and the right words or a perfect plot twist just come to me: I often feel like my best writing is just given to me, that it doesn’t even come from my own head. Maybe it’s because I’m a creative person that God tends to manifest this way to me. It’s certainly true that as a creative type I understand God most easily when he is explained/depicted as the great Creator, the heavenly Author. Maybe that’s why the process of hearing His voice and the process of creation (or sub-creation as J.R.R. Tolkien would put it) are so close for me.

  31. Maggie

    Jen, this is wonderful! Thanks for posting! It’s sometimes difficult to explain how I “hear” God’s voice, and you did a beautiful job. I’m usually afraid of saying “God told me…” because I don’t want to imply that I have Him on speed-dial, but the way you phrased this was great.

  32. Anne Marie

    Marissa:

    That “snap” you speak of is consistent with my experience. It’s not something I can quantify, but it’s unmistakable and very real. It’s almost a small peek into another dimension. Once I experienced that for me there was no turning back. It was like seeing a little snippet of the supernatural and that helped to make sense of things like evil and suffering in the world. Man’s fall from grace and God’s salvation came into focus, and I’ve never been the same.

    I felt like I had won the lottery. I was healed from years and years of depression and anxiety virtually overnight and while life is not always a bed of roses, I’ve never suffered from depression again. No meds, no nothing. I’ve had sadness from time to time but no depression.

    Not exactly on point with the how do you know its God’s voice in prayer; just confirmation of an experience similar to yours. If someone had told me ten years ago that I would be an orthodox practicing Catholic I would have laughed hysterically at the sheer absurdity. I think God has a good sense of humor.

  33. Kris

    “…smelling God’s cologne as He passes by.” Wow! What a powerful, beautiful analogy. Thank you for, once again, putting wonderfully into words the random, half-formed thoughts that usually skirt around the edges of my conscious.

  34. Abigail

    Great post!

  35. Elizabeth

    When I was a young girl and I would spend time praying, the way I knew it was something God wanted me to do was if it was confirmed by my parents.

    As an adult, one of the ways I know it's God and not myself or Satan is to ask a couple of questions:

    1. does it line up with Scripture?

    2. is it congruent with the authority structure God has placed in my life?

    Also, many times I take silence to be an answer. For me this means I need to wait. I have to realize God doesn't run on my timetable.

    If I am not receiving a direct answer or I have doubts about the action I should take, I wait. Most of the time, God doesn't work in a hurry.

    I allow time & circumstances to make my path clear. I allow God to use other people, a Scripture verse I read later on, a sermon that is preached to guide my prayers and direction.

    And even when I believe God has led me in a certain direction, I keep myself open to changes in plan that He sees fit. Many times I have felt that God is leading me to do something and then when I go out to do it I realize He had an entirely different WAY of accomplishing His purpose.

    I know I've rambled here. The main points are:

    1. I need to learn to wait in prayer.

    2. I need to learn to pray according to His will.

    3. I need to allow HIM to direct as He sees fit on HIS timeline.

    In Christ,
    Elizabeth Esther

  36. Beth/Mom2TwoVikings

    You pretty much summed it up. I call them God’s “nudges” and they have to be consistent with Scripture. If “a voice” is telling you to do something in direct violation of Scripture, something is wrong.

    We (as Pentecostals of which I am a rookie one) referred to God’s glory falling. It’s only happened to me a few times but it’s like the air becomes tangibly “thicker” if that makes sense. Almost cooler in some cases. I feel the urge to drop to my knees or lay prone (if I’m not already in a praying position).

    At one of these times, I felt what I can only describe as a slow and mild electrical charge going through me. I’ve liken it to when I received an IV that was not at body temperature and initially you feel the cooler feeling “spreading” through you.

    But, more often than not, it’s as you describe. It’s like my thoughts focus and sharpen and often I’m led to an answer I had not considered before or is outside my usual response.

  37. Elizabeth

    I might also add that sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayers in our lifetimes. I have been praying for one specific issue for 11 years. So far, that prayer hasn’t been answered.

    Does that mean He doesn’t hear it? No. It just means I need to keep prayin’ and believin’ God to do great things!!

  38. Amber

    In regards to your asterisk: My spiritual director likes to say, “The Holy Spirit is not schizophrenic. He is not going to tell to do something that is against Church teaching!”

    I’ve experienced many of those moments that you describe. I’ve only had a definite Voice of God experience a couple of times, but lots of guidance and nudging like you wrote about. I have to remember to open my heart though so I can hear what God has to say – sometimes I’m so fixed in what I’m doing I don’t give him a chance to weigh in. Something I’m definitely working on!

  39. Chris Osgood

    Amazing! Thank you for sharing!

  40. sara

    Y’know sometimes an answer from God does leave me feeling unsettled or at least uncomfortable – like when He’s asking me to do something I don’t want to do.

  41. Carrien

    My experiences of hearing God’s voice are very often like yours Jen.

    However, when it came to specific discernment for other things and people, (I come from a tradition, to use the term loosely, that meets to pray together for specific many things, including each other.) my experience was a bit different.

    When I was very young and first learning to hear God’s voice for myself I learned to trust that still voice within by praying with other women. When the things that God would say to me would come out of their mouths only seconds later it was confirmation for me that that voice was God’s voice speaking to me, and I learned to trust it as time went by.

    The way I was taught to pray for someone else, prayer ministry, also involves first listening to see if God directs the prayer in a specific way. (I believe it’s called listening prayer?)
    There are two things that usually happen in this setting. Well, 3, sometimes I don’t hear anything at all. The first is that while I am praying I will get a mental image that just pops into my head out of nowhere, means nothing to me, but often when I share it with the person I am praying for it is meaningful to them.

    The second is that there is something so obvious and glaring right in front of me that I think it’s my own thought and keep trying to shove it aside to I can “hear from God”. Only, usually when I share that thought it’s revelatory for the person I’m praying for.

    Does that help?

  42. Anonymous

    I am still learning how to listen or at least listen well. There have been instances where I am sure that something has happened in my life as a direct reaction to prayer or through God. There are other things that leave me confused or frustrated. I have come to believe that having a relationship with God “and hearing his voice in your life” is like any other close relationship in your life. It takes patience, sometimes sacrifice, work, time, love, and humility. He doesn’t make it easy to hear Him because we would take it for granted like we do everything else that is easy to do. Sometimes what I am suppose to do is loud and clear. Other times it is like I am straining to hear someone who is quietly whispering. I don’t think God’s volume varies when he gives us “nudges” in the right direction. I think I might not be listening the right way because it is not what I want to hear. (not the easy way out of a situation etc.) Thanks for a good topic. Amy

  43. Emily

    I kept thinking of _The Screwtape Letters_ by C.S. Lewis while reading your post. I think that he does a clever job of describing the battle between Satan’s voice and God’s. It’s not a ‘theological’ work, but it is profoundly insightful, I think. Thanks for opening up this great discussion!

  44. Gregaria

    Tami, that happens to me, too! Its awesome!

  45. Anonymous

    Some commenters seem confused about the feeling of peace. I was once confused about it, but I have since learned that it is mostly a gut feeling at the very bottom of my soul. Even if I don’t want to do what God is asking of me, and even if my emotions are all over the place, I always check in with my gut feeling at the bottom of my soul and if THAT place is feeling settled, then I tell myself to get over it and go wherever the peace leads me. Granted, it might lead me to a place of suffering or something somewhat unpleasant, but the peace should remain in the midst of that. St. Therese, in the darkest part of her suffering, said that even in the midst of that, she felt peace because she was doing the will of God. I also heard a St. Thomas Aquinas quote about peace once… something to the effect of peace comes from doing the Will of God. I don’t remember it exactly, though, and can’t find it anywhere.

  46. Anonymous

    What a lot of great answers you have here! I would add 2 things. First, Phllipians 4.6-7 encourages us to “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

    That peace is the guard – if it isn’t there – STOP. Even if you have a great idea, and it can only be wonderful – if you don’t have that peace, don’t go there!

    And listen. Listen to the priest, your friends, your reading, your life. If you are wondering if it’s from God – ask, wait, look for the peace.

    I am a new convert to the Catholic Church – as of April, 2007, so I am really enjoying your blog (which I just found a week ago).

    Dawn H.

  47. Misty

    This is so well written and thoughtful Jenn, I couldn’t add to it. Your thoughts really reflect mine, and I am so grateful that you are willing to tackle tough questions and answer them in a clear, thoughtful, and very helpful way. God has really gifted you in this arena.

  48. Pam H.

    See St. Ignatius for discernment of spirits. With practice, it is possible to have a pretty thorough certainty whether a thought is from God, from evil spirits pretending to goodness (which they know well how to do, having been good spirits once), or from oneself. If we are traveling toward God (as opposed to running from Him), impulses from good spirits give us a calm certainty. It’s VERY calm, and VERY certain. We will KNOW we did not make it up ourselves. Impulses from evil spirits, while they may seem to be impulses to do good, will leave us restless, disturbed, the “waters of our soul” stirred to agitation or even an agitated passion. Also from St. Ignatius: When in a state of doubt or confusion, never take action on a new course, but continue the good works you are already doing.

  49. Anonymous

    Many years ago a close friend and mother of three very young children had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She was attending a Healing Mass, some friends were going with her and the idea “popped” into my head that those of us who were not going should meet and pray at the same time. So having a good idea, I phoned the couple who led our prayergroup, who thought it was a good idea, but they already had commitments at that time. I phoned somebody else who also thought it was a very good idea but also had other commitments. I was very upset and was crying and praying while I was cooking dinner. I picked up a tomato and heard a voice out loud and distinct saying “Lesley, I want you to do this for me”. There was no radio or television on in the house, only my children and it was a very strong masculine voice. Needless to say after I cleared up the tomato I had dropped on the floor I made phone calls and organised a group of people to come and pray!!

    Lesley

  50. runningatlarge

    Yes, that was a great answer. For me it isn’t always something I haven’t thought of before, but it’s suddenly seeing something I have thought of many, many times, in a whole new, very definite light. Sometimes there’s joy, sometimes their is struggle, sometimes there is both.
    Similarly, I have, at times, gotten the very strong sense (I know, you could say) that Jesus is very present with me, beside me. Perhaps he always is, and I only notice it at certain times. Last week at RCIA, when the whole group was talking about Him with such fervor and love, I strongly felt His presence.

  51. Laura

    One thing that I have learned over time is that God tends to “speak” to me almost all the time using the same method. In my particular case, more often than not when God wants me to really learn or know something, he sends it to me through some sort of written word: a book, a short snippet, even an email. While there were times that I would have liked it if someone came up to me and said, “God told me to tell you to …” that never happens. But, within a short period of time, I usually will happen across something that I read that will help me immensely. I think that, since God is a God of order, the fact that He might use the same way of “speaking” to someone over and over again makes sense.

    I also had one instance where I heard an “out loud” voice and I’m glad that that does not happen too often!

    I also have to agree that peace is a major part of me knowing that something I read is from God. If I am agitated about what I think I’m “hearing” then chances are I’m on the wrong path (not always, but most of the time)

    God Bless!

  52. Kristin T.

    You put this so perfectly, at least in terms of how it reflects my own experience.

    One thing I’ve found helpful is to think about what KEEPS me from listening to God, and to just be aware of those buried impulses to close our eyes and ears. It might be a fear of hearing something I don’t want to hear, or it could be my tendency to be a control freak and to resist letting go. There are many reasons I might avoid listening to God.

    When we know what keeps us from hearing God, and what it feels like when we’re NOT listening to him (the internal chaos, which is the absence of that peace you’re talking about), I think it helps us more easily identify what God wants us to hear.

  53. Marissa

    I thank you all very much for your comments! There is a lot for me to think about and digest here.

    Once upon a time, I used to think religious faith and God were for the simple-minded. It was an introductory philosophy class that made me realize that maybe God wasn’t just for idiots, after all. That was merely the first step He had me take towards Him, I think. And I see that I could have chosen to reject that guidance and turn away, every step I took. But I didn’t, and I have been rewarded.

    Like Anne Marie, I suffered from depression and apathy. Since my “snap” experience, I have been able to ward it off if I pray, since it takes my focus off myself and onto God. Even knowing that, I haven’t been very faithful in prayer until recently. I would have these long stretches of not praying, and I’d get more and more depressed and apathetic, until I lay awake at nights crying. Then I’d get up the nerve to pray, and God, instead of not answering me as I probably deserved after my neglect, would grant me the peace I needed to sleep and go through my life. Then the cycle would begin again.

    One day in the midst of a deep depression, something made me care enough to go out to get the mail, something I don’t normally do. As I stepped off the porch, a thought flashed in my mind that made me stop in mid-stride.

    “Depression is the perfect way for Satan to attack you.”

    I thought about it for a few seconds. I have no real reasons to be depressed, and I always knew that, and that would lead me to feeling more sorry for myself. I spent most of my mental and intellectual energy picking myself apart. In other words, I was stopped from doing anything useful or good because of it.

    Then I felt an odd sensation of my depression fleeing from me, and I laughed and opened my eyes to the beautiful day, and I knew then that with God’s help, I would never be depressed again. Praise God!

    Like Anne Marie said, if you had told me a few years ago that I would want to join the Catholic Church, I would have thought you one of those poor, deluded simple-minded people. Now I find that the great minds of the Church serve to put me in my place.

    I don’t mean to take over and make the comment box my own-mini blog here. I’ve been thinking about everything Jennifer and you all have said on this subject, and I keep getting it pointed out to me that God has answered me many, many times that I didn’t recognize before. Now I do.

    I thank you all so very much! You’ve all been a real blessing to me, and I am just filled with gratitude. I will remember you in my prayers, and I look forward to learning from you beautiful and wise people of faith.

    Marissa

  54. artfulfrog

    Hi, I read your blog a lot and I just hardly ever comment. Anyways on to the post-

    When I “hear” Him answering my prayers, its more less a deep feeling as in the pit of my being, not some voice. It also is more like a thought that pops up in my mind that I just didnt think of. Also like a sense of peace than just over comes you, their really isn’t any words that can describe it.

  55. marina

    these is a really good answer and may I add it helps to read the bible and know the stories I did catholic scripture study for many years now I do different bible study and have learn too keep the word of God in my heart. marina

  56. Kate

    A great post like usual, Jen. This is a common question for so many people, Catholics, other Christians, and Eastern spiritualists.

    I know you mentioned Fr. Dubay’s “Fire Within” at the bottom – a FANTASTIC read for those interested in a real prayer life. ALso, his “Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer” is fantastic. I would also say St. Teresa’s “Interior Castles” is a great reference for those looking to understand why we work to advance a prayer life, and what it means. She goes through the stages of prayer that lead to a deeper union with God.

    As one grows closer to God, seeking after Him and longing after Him, He reveals Himself more. It may be in different ways to different people, and certainly He challenges us to continue thirsting for Him even without “little consolations.” However, it has been my experience that the further I have advanced in deep prayer, the more I “hear Him” – sometimes with words, sometimes with a gentle breath that I know is His. I always know it is from Him when it leads to more longing for Him and makes me grow in Love.

    Isn’t the spiritual life amazing? Never easy, not always comfortable – but there is no other pursuit that will render such fruits!

  57. NanaR

    Hi Jennifer:

    I had always wondered about this question too. I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, and we were pointedly told that God did not “talk” to people today in the same way he did to, say, Samuel (as mentioned in last Sunday’s mass reading). We were taught that if we heard a voice that we could not explain, it was the devil or a demon talking and that we should call upon “Jehovah” to drive the devil/demon away.

    Some ten years after I became inactive as a Witness, I started to investigate Catholicism and also to look at all the evidence against the Witnesses (up to that time, I had assumed that the Witnesses were right and I just was not good enough to be one). I had already experienced a conversion experience from the standpoint of understanding clearly (while reading the New Testament) that Jesus intended for all righteous people to be with him in heaven (the Witnesses teach that the majority of people will live forever on earth, beyond reach of the Beatific Vision). I wanted to go to Mass, just to see what it was like to do so, but I was afraid. Years of indoctrination are hard to overcome.

    Up to this point I had not watched EWTN regularly or read many Catholic blogs or other literature. Mostly I just talked with one of my friends who was a new Catholic convert. Most of our discussions were about the history, ritual, and beauty of the Church.

    One night just as I was going to sleep, during that time when one is still about half conscious, I heard the following very clearly inside my head: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for our sins now and at the hour of our death.”

    This was the first thing I remembered on awaking the next morning, and I wrote the words down because they were strange to me. Then I googled them, and discovered what every Catholic preschooler knows — This was a slightly garbled second half of the Hail Mary prayer.

    Since the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches are the only religions that give honor to Mary in this way (Mother of God), I took this as a sign from God that I was supposed to go to Mass.

    I told my friend about my experience, and went to Mass the next day.

    So for me, God spoke to me through the words of a prayer that I did not know being “spoken” in my mind after I had started to go to sleep.

    FWIW

    Pax,

    Ruth
    Tiber Swim Team 2008

  58. Sophia

    There is much of power in your post and in the comments….However I am concerned about the insistence that any inner movement involving so called negative emotions–you specifically mention being unsettled or angry–cannot be from the Holy Spirit.

    God loves us in, uses and blesses all our emotions, and labeling some as negative can lead to denying rather than working through them in a healthy way. And that denial gives them more power to unconsciously affect behavior (sometimes referred to as “biting you in the backside”).

    Ignatius points out that if we are going toward God in general or in a particular area of our life the Holy Spirit gives us peace and the evil spirit unsettles us. However, if we are going away from God in general or in a particular area of our life the Holy Spirit makes us very unsettled to get us to change course, and the evil spirit gives false peace to keep us in the wrong direction.

    Also, there is much justified and prophetic anger which is a healthy and holy response to abuse of ourselves or others–Jesus certainly had it–and this can be a strong leading from God to work for justice and healing. Of course, we then need to seek guidance on doing it nonviolently and constructively.

  59. Kate

    I’ve been meaning to write about prayer, hearing God’s voice, but you’ve said it much better than I would have. (Do you not suffer from any form of preggo brain like I do?) 🙂

    I recently read Prayer by Joyce Rupp. She talks a lot about praying is about building a relationship with the Holy One, and as we know from our families/friend, that takes time, humility, love, and dedication. Sometimes prayer involves talking, but it really should involve a lot of listening. The latter is the biggest challenge for someone like me since a housefly’s attention span is probably longer! 🙂 What I often do when I just can’t seem to be a good listener is to start to journal. This begins with my own meandering thoughts, but oftentimes, as you alluded to, I begin to write things that don’t seem to really be my ideas or even in my voice. Then I try to stop writing, read what I last wrote, and listen. It helps a wayward mind like mine stay on track.

    I really love what you said about peace. That’s what I feel when I receive the Eucharist – and those have been my most prayerful moments, although there are not petitions involved.

    Anyway, I’m rambling (as usual), but thank you for this insightful post. I’ve been meaning to drop you a line about it for some time.

  60. Sarah

    I think your response aligns with mine closely.
    It is a peaceful feeling at times. One that is only noticeable because of the lack of peace before the prayer.

  61. Jon

    One needs to be careful about establishing definite signs of God’s answer to prayers. For example while certainty is one of the consolations God can grant, it also cuts the schismatic off from correction. Similarly peace can arise from avoiding a challenge as easily as doing what God wills. Even insisting on obedience to scripture or the church isn’t guaranteed to lead one rightly since both can be misunderstood. The fractured nature of Christianity can also make it challenging to say what the church teaches. For example can women be ordained? Rome says no, but the Anglicans say yes.

    The best advice I can think of is to always be careful to get advice from trusted friends or, perhaps better, one’s spiritual director. They won’t always lead one correctly (for example if one’s friends and one’s spiritual director are schismatic they are profoundly unlikely to favor joining the group from which they split), but they can help one avoid a great many snares of the devil.

    Jon

  62. TL.

    I was wondering, how long have you been catholic? I think you say it somewhere, but I’m always intrigued by this subtitle “conversion of a former atheist”.. I have been agnostic for years as a teen, but I now feel like I have been catholic forever, it just seems so obvious.. Do you still struggle with that? Is it the reason why you keep this denomination: “former atheist”. A priest told me one day that there is a pagan, a jew and a christian in each catholic: for some things we are pagan, for some we let God interfere, and for some we let Jesus take us through death and ressuection, and our job as catholics is to find those unconverted, or partially converted, parts of our lives, and to invite Jesus there.. 🙂
    I liked it 🙂

    Anyway, I was commenting on this post but not to share about hearing God in prayer.. I was talking with my husband the evening before reading that post, and I was trying to tell him that all his self conscious feelings and guilt about little things shouldn’t discourage him.. I was trying to tell him that sometimes we get bad inspiration, adn I didn’t want to say “Evil”…
    How do you approach the devil subject? I’m catholic, I went through almost nun formation and I know the smartest move of the devil is to make us believe he doesn’t exist.. but still I’m at a loss to explain that to my husband (Presbyterian). I tried to wrap it in excuses, just like you more or less did ” oh I don’t want to sound like a church lady, BUT STILL…” and I didn’t insist much…
    So any ideas to deal with the topic better (or should I say less awkwardly) since you posted this?

  63. TomW

    Passage 1 Kings 19:12:
    12And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

  64. Anonymous

    TL:

    I would recommend you and your husband read C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. It’s an insightful and not at all boring lesson on some of the subtle ways demons work in our lives, in the form of a series of letters by an elder demon counseling a newbie demon.

    I read it expecting a fun fantasy-ish book, and while it is that, it also opened my eyes and made me examine myself closely.

    I hope this helps a bit!

    Marissa

  65. TL.

    Marissa:
    thanks! 🙂
    It’s funny I read some of the comments, and the 2 comments that retained my attention were yours and Emily’s (poured) 🙂
    I most definitely put CS Lewis and my to-read list!

    thanks

  66. Jenn Calling Home

    This is a great thread you’ve got going here. I love talking about this stuff. Two ways I’ve noticed His voice: 1) through other people’s comments. It used to be my children that he spoke through the most. For example: One Monday morning as I was driving the girls to school, I prayed silently that they would be aware of God that day, that they would know His presence no matter what they had to deal with. That night at dinner it was just the 3 of us and we were having a sweet conversation. They both made comments that mirrored or else closely related to what I had prayed. It was sweet confirmation that He had heard me and did indeed answer.

    Other times I know it’s Him when there’s repetition, like when I keep hearing or seeing a verse (at church, on my own, or someone else brings it up). Or a related topic comes up in conversation and it’s like there’s a “click” in my head where it suddenly comes together.

    One time He actually gave me a visual using other people and again it was tied into a verse.

    I think He speaks to each of us differently. It’s just a matter of recognizing when it’s Him and also being attentive.

    Blessings!

  67. Anonymous

    What I have trouble with is when God is silent.
    Will I wait until I hear His voice or will I be pressured by the urgent to act on mm instincts. Some times we just need to wait in silence in what St John of the Cross calls the “dark night of the soul.
    Do I love God enough to just wait?

  68. Christine

    Thank you all for your insights. I have been struggling with my prayer life. My ny's resolution was to begin a prayer journal in order to focus more on my relationship with God & take my meditations, contemplations, gratitudes, etc. to the next level. I started so strong – then I was directed to turn my prayers away from God & to direct them to Jesus specifically. For a multitude of reasons, that freaked me out to the point where I have been unable to continue w/ the journal. (I still am praying, just not in that very organized way) After reading these many posts, I feel 'hugged' if that makes sense to you all and my fears have evaporated. Thank you all for sharing! God Bless each of you!

  69. Anna

    Here is a link with some advice for discerning God’s voice.

  70. R.C.

    For me, it’s like having someone you know, love, and respect look at you from across the room, and you read their face and you know exactly, word-for-word, what they’re thinking…but they didn’t open their mouth and you didn’t hear a sound. And yet you know.

    Take that experience, which I suppose all of us have had at one moment or another. Then subtract away the face but leave intact the feeling of recognizing exactly their “expression” and what it is that they’re thinking, and that, to me, is the experience of receiving “dialogue” with God.

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