How Do I Hear God?

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How Do I Hear God?

By: FB Smit

Since the earliest times, humans have questioned their existence in the world. Questions about the purpose and significance of life include:

In this article, we introduce ways to discern God’s ways of communicating with us to answer the question: How Do I Hear God?


Whatever the weather, every morning at 6 AM, Isabel wakes and goes for a walk. Instead of music or podcasts, this is her time to converse with God, ask questions, and pray. 

One morning, she wondered to herself and God about a decision she had to make. She had been mulling it over for weeks. She considered both options good but would result in two different and permanent outcomes. 

This morning, as before, she breathed in the crisp Fall air tinged with the smell of fresh-cut grass and posed to God her options. Then, in that instant, a slight breeze stroked the hair behind her left ear. In a moment of clarity, she knew the right choice. This knowing felt natural and undeniable.

God communicates with us at all times and in all places. Isabel loved the outdoors, and like many nature lovers, she felt close to God among the trees, mountains, water, and sky colors. Regarding the choice she had to make, God spoke to Isabel in her everyday life, meeting her right where she was. 


Julie opened herself daily to experiencing God in church. Knowing God most often speaks to her through scripture and adoration, Julie went to Mass nearly every day and, at times, arrived early or stayed after Mass. 

One day, Julie sat quietly at church and gazed at the crucifix. The scripture read during Mass referenced the Garden of Eden, so she pondered how the fruit of the tree in the garden had been so inviting. She thought about the enemy whispering doubts and questions into Eve’s ear and how Eve plucked the fruit and consumed what wasn’t hers to take.

At that moment, Julie experienced a knowing. The light that came to her was that Jesus is the fruit, not of the old tree in Eden but of a new tree, the Cross. God had replaced the apple of the tree with the all-in-all fruit of Jesus, and He invited us to partake in it. In receiving the Eucharist, we’re not trespassing against the rightful owner and taking the forbidden. Instead, Jesus gave himself willingly for us to consume, to be our fruit, so that we can bear fruit. 

This light of inspiration brightened Julie's understanding of God with rich, nuanced color. Over the years, she would return with joy to this experience of God. 

God grants us inspirations like the ones that Isabel and Julie had in a myriad of ways and places, based on how He made us and where we are in life circumstances. Because the Holy Spirit dwells in the baptized, our knowing comes from within us (the monastics call this place the center). 

How God Communicates With Us

Some ways the Holy Spirit who dwells within can bubble up to the surface are through: 

Prayer Practice: There are many prayer practices and exercises. Certain prayer forms resonate with or attract a person based on his/her makeup.

St. Ignatius of Loyola experienced joy and consolation when reading and imagining the heroic virtue of the saints. This starkly contrasted his feelings of restlessness and agitation when contemplating self-serving scenarios. From his observations, he devised rules for discernment and developed a prayer exercise known today as the Ignatian contemplation and meditation. Over 500 years later, people discern God’s voice through these Ignatian exercises.

The monastic desert fathers employed Lectio Divina as an integral prayer regimen for the monastic rule for life. The monastics today continue to feed on God’s words by integrating this form of contemplation into their days of prayer and work. Carmelites pray the rosary daily; their spirituality is Marian and distinct from others in its sensibilities and union toward God through the Blessed Mother.  

Memory, Word, Image: Sometimes, we have a random thought that we think is not from God. We might experience a flash of memory, a word, a picture, or an emotion. Any of these can be from God, who wants to communicate with us through them. Whether such memories, words, or images are actually from the source of Love itself is the interior process of discernment. 

An example is that just the other day, Kylie received Communion and knelt in the pew. Immediately, she heard the refrain of a familiar yet old song: How wonderful life is when you are in the world…. She hadn’t heard that song in so long that after Mass, she looked it up and was reminded of Elton John’s Your Song. The song made her smile, and she felt reassured by God’s purposeful love for her.

Our methods of discernment can improve through practice, through applying discernment filters such as whether an inspiration lines up with scripture, Church teaching, our station in life, a lasting sense of peace, and so many others. We understand our interior senses by spending time with the Lord and seeking guidance from a spiritual director or spiritually mature mentor.

Love Language: In addition to the places where we most often experience God, love languages are special receptors in us that help us feel valued and loved. Through these receptors, we receive and show love. God, who made us, embraces and communicates with us through these five or more love languages that differ from person to person. 

For people who like words of affirmation, God may speak to them using loving words that move their emotions. Those who value quality time tend to love journaling or adoration, as these can open up exchanges with God. People whose love language is acts of service feel close to God through corporal works of mercy. For people who like gifts, God often works through them with miracles. Those who value physical touch may use discernment words like nudged or pushed to describe how God communicates with them.

Community/People, Songs, Life Circumstances: God made us communal beings who need others. God uses people, even unbelievers, to ignite our spiritual ears and eyes. Insight comes to us through the words of others, through songs, life circumstances, providence, and many other ways. We can tune our senses to better recognize the hand of Divine Providence through movements of the Spirit; no words are necessary.

God is the original creator and is always communicating with us. He is without end in the unique highways and byways we experience Him. Through His creation, we can understand that the many pathways to hearing God are as vast and wide as the universe He created. 

Recall a time when God spoke in your life and converse with God about the experience.