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Are You Hearing God’s Voice or Your Own? 5 Handy Tricks For Telling the Difference

What Does the Bible Say About Hearing God’s Voice?

Have you ever wondered if you’re hearing God’s voice or your own? I read a Bible verse that really struck me a few weeks ago:

“Instead of claiming to know what God says, ask questions of one another, such as ‘How do we understand God in this?’ But don’t go around pretending to know it all, saying ‘God told me this…God told me that…’ I don’t want to hear it anymore. Only the person I authorize speaks for me. Otherwise, my Message gets twisted, the Message of the living God-of-the-Angel-Armies.”

Jeremiah 23:35-36, MSG

It struck me because I hear people say this all. the. time. “God told me this.”

And it’s usually done with the best of intentions! We’re sharing what God is doing in our hearts, and we should talk about those things!

But we’re walking a fine line. Because God usually speaks to our hearts and minds…where our thoughts also reside. And that makes it very easy to tangle up and confuse our thoughts with God’s.

Suddenly, “God” is telling us to do the very thing we wanted to do! Woo hoo!

Or maybe he’s dishing on our spouse and everything they need to work on. All of a sudden, God sounds a lot like…us!

So how can we tell if we’re hearing God’s voice or our own human thoughts? Because we want to be sure we don’t become like the people God referred to as “twisting” His message.

I’ve discovered a few distinguishing criteria that have helped me to differentiate God’s voice from my own.

How to Know If We’re Hearing God’s Voice

God’s voice doesn’t obsess over our problems.

Can you find any place in the Bible where God is fixated on the same problem for the 127th time? But we tend to do that, don’t we?

When we’re in pain or discomfort, when we’re struggling under the weight of depression or anxiety, when we feel we’ve been wronged…we tend to talk about it every chance we get, telling anyone who will listen.

God certainly hears our concerns, but he doesn’t stay there for long. When God speaks, he doesn’t talk about the problem, he talks to it…about Himself.

He inspires prophets to proclaim things like, “The stick gods who made nothing, neither sky nor earth, will come to nothing on the earth and under the sky. But it is God whose power made the earth, whose wisdom gave shape to the world, who crafted the cosmos. He thunders, and rain pours down. He sends the clouds soaring” (Jeremiah 10:11-12).

If you have a thought that says, “I still can’t believe so-and-so did that to me years ago,” it’s likely not God’s voice stirring up your emotions.

God’s voice doesn’t gossip.

In verse after verse, Christians are instructed to refrain from gossip. In fact, we’re called to an even higher standard than simply refraining!

Ephesians 4:29 challenges us, “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.”

God may grant you some insight behind someone’s words or actions, but he won’t do it in a way that sets you up as that person’s judge or jury.

I love how Jesus words it in Matthew 7:1-4, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging…It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part.”

If you hear thoughts criticizing someone’s faults or jumping on their failures, it’s likely not God letting you in on his judgment.

God’s voice will usually speak with you about your own heart, not others’ hearts.

This plays off the last verse, where Jesus instructed us to leave judgment to God and focus on living our own part.

I’ve entered into prayer straight up infuriated with people. I’ve vented to God and told him how someone else needed to act differently.

And you know what? I can’t think of a single time that God has agreed, “Yes! They need to butt out and mind their own business!”

No, God’s voice never fuels the fire of my bitterness. Instead, he’s whispering for me to focus my eyes on Him, to attend to my own actions and my own heart, and to trust Him to resolve everything else.

If you walk away from your quiet time with a laundry list of things that others need to work on, you might have mixed up God’s voice with your own.

God’s voice focuses more on the heart of the issue than on direct answers.

Have you ever noticed how religious leaders in the Bible were always pressing Jesus for direct answers, but He didn’t usually provide them? Instead, Jesus responded with questions or stories that got to the heart of the matter (like Matthew 12:9-14).

He was trying to help them see and understand their own hearts behind the question, and He’s still doing it today. For example, when I asked God for specific answers in my job search, my heart was redirected to question whether I trusted God as my provider, or an employer.

That’s not to say that God will never deliver a specific directive, but that Jesus more often answered questions with more questions, to get to the root of things. And the answers that come from Jesus’ questions accomplish much more than a straightforward “yes” or “no” might.

God’s voice will never contradict Scripture.

Hebrews 13:8 tells us that God never changes. And in Psalm 89:34, God asks us, “Do you think I’d withdraw my holy promise or take back words I’d already spoken?”

That means God won’t tell you anything that is contrary to what He has said in Scripture. He won’t tell you to cheat on your spouse, disrespect leadership (1 Peter 2:13), or cheat your employer.

Not every thought in your head is God speaking, even if you’re a believer. Between our own sinful nature and the thoughts of the enemy constantly trying to infiltrate our minds, it’s easy to tangle up or confuse our thoughts with God’s.

If you’re wondering if you’re hearing God’s voice or your own, ask yourself if the voice obsesses over problems, gossips, concerns itself with others’ hearts, never addresses the root of your questions, or contradicts Scripture. If the voice is hitting any of these points, you might be hearing your own voice instead.

One of the best ways I’ve found to hone my skills at recognizing God’s voice is to dive into the Bible. The more you listen to God’s voice in Scripture, and read about how he approaches every situation from Old to New Testament, the more easily you’ll be able to pick out his voice in even the most crowded mind.

(Need a little guidance in this area? Be sure to check out The 40 Best Devotionals for Women!)

Have you learned any tricks for hearing God’s voice? Be sure to share in the comments!

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P.S. Having trouble hearing God in the valley?

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Eliza Woodard

Tuesday 12th of September 2023

I believe that I was saved in 1998 while incarcerated in prison. After I served my time, I went straight back to drinking and drugs, but now I have 5 years clean from meth and I've struggled the whole entire time just trying to re-establish a relationship with Jesus, but I find that I'm more controlled by my own mind and I feel I've lost my calling and vision of heaven. I do have a positive view of my future, but it's an earthly view, not heavenly.


Wednesday 13th of September 2023

Hey there, Eliza! I totally get that! It's easy to get lost in our own minds and thoughts. Two things that have really helped me to get out of my own head and become more Christ-minded have been (1) diving into the Bible and (2) getting connected with a church. Both of these activities...reading God's Word and talking to someone who's not in my own head and can offer an outsider's point of to balance my own thoughts. Sometimes I feel super connected to God by doing these things, and sometimes I go through a dry spell where I just can't feel God's presence as much. But I've found that if I keep showing up every day, I eventually get back to that place. I pray the same for you. ❤️


Monday 21st of August 2023

this article was helpful, but unfortunately sometimes I hear words in my head that sound like they would be from God but then I wonder if my mind is pretending that God is speaking to me by imagining that He is. I don't know how to tell the difference...and the words I hear it's like someone's just talking to me normally >.<


Thursday 24th of August 2023

I completely understand that feeling, Rochelle. In fact, it's why I wrote this post! Sometimes, it's just hard to know for sure. 🤷‍♀️

I think lining up what you're hearing with these guidelines is a great first step. It would knock out any obvious misalignments with God's Word or character.

After those checks, I've found that the more time I spend in the Bible, the more easily I can recognize God's voice. After all, the Bible is God's Word! So the more you read it, the more you understand His stances and tone and the better you can recognize them elsewhere (like in your own heart).

If there's a certain area where you're not sure where your thoughts end and where God's voice begins, it can also be incredibly helpful to talk through it with your pastor, Bible study teacher, or another spiritual leader. They can help to talk through the specifics with you and offer some wisdom from both the Bible and their own faith experience.

I wish you all the best, friend! The fact that you're working so hard to research and understand this topic more clearly tells me you're on the right path. ❤️

Jen Panicacci

Saturday 6th of August 2022

Deb, thank you for this. I am in agreement with you. These are all good criteria to test the spirits and to really discipline myself to simply wait and listen. His is the voice we should be listening to, and I want to trust him deeper and deeper every day.


Wednesday 10th of August 2022

Thanks so much for reading, Jen! I am certain He will reward your efforts! <3


Friday 5th of August 2022

I was there until number 5, and here is why: As a believer who had the unfortunate experience of being a part of denominations that were nearly cult-like, I have learned that the scriptures can be skewed to fit a narrative. I can't rely on scripture as a guide anymore because it actually strikes fear into my heart. It was misused as a tool to control and keep people from leaving the faith. It's very unfortunate. Maybe one day I can heal. However, the other 4 are spot on!!


Wednesday 10th of August 2022

Hi, Em! That's a very legitimate concern. Unfortunately, some people will manipulate God's Word to fit their own agenda.

I attended a Christian university that regularly invited famous pastors and evangelists to speak in their weekly chapel services. And I remember feeling very unsettled at a few of them insisting that if you were a good Christian, you would be rich. They quoted scriptures to back up their narrative, but it just didn't feel right to me.

SO I wrote down all of the quoted verses and went back to my dorm room to study what came both before and after those verses in the Bible...sort of gain insight into the context. I also studied the lives of Jesus and His followers. Surely they were "good Christians," yet they weren't rich!

I believe Scripture is a reliable source, but one that is up for interpretation to some extent. However, I would still encourage people to attempt to confirm God's voice there. We can often find the truth we're seeking in God's Word but even in the times we don't, we're still taking His Word into our hearts.

Thanks so very much for reading and sharing! <3


Thursday 16th of June 2022

This is very helpful, we were given an assignment about the voice of God and indeed I say that beyond the assignment, I have been richly blessed by this article. It indeed will help me distinguish between my voice and the voice of God. Thanks alot.


Tuesday 21st of June 2022

Thanks so much for reading, Jesudara! I'm so glad it helped!! <3