I’m taking this from Bill Hybel’s The Power of a Whisper1 verbatim. I want to post it here to serve myself as a reminder if what I’m hearing is truly from God or if I’m going crazy and telling myself what I want to hear. (My apologies to Zondervan if this is a little too much quoting…)
1. Is the Prompting Truly from God?
Whenever you receive a prompting—whether from God directly or through the lips of another—take whatever time is necessary to ask, “God, is this message from you? Does this square with who I know you to be? Is it consistent with your character? Is it aligned with your attributes? Is this you trying to convey something to me, or are there voices getting into my head?” Before taking a single step to obey the whisper you’ve received, be sure you get thee all-clear that the voice you have heard could be from God.
2. Is it Scriptural?
Scripture is replete with examples of how God would behave in any given life situation, and the Example’s name is Jesus Christ. Whenever I sense a prompting from God, I ask myself if I could imagine Jesus doing whatever action the prompting is suggesting I do. If I can’t envision Jesus Follow suit, I fear my wires somehow must have gotten crossed. Check every prompting you receive against the thematic teachings of Scripture. Messages that contradict Scripture are not from God
3. Is it Wise?
God’s whispers rarely go against wisdom and common sense. The entire book of Proverbs is devoted to dissecting wisdom and all her attributes. For example, the wise one loves knowledge, while the fool hates it; the wise one practices gentle speech, while the fool uses harsh, incendiary words; the wise one lives blamelessly, while the fool is utterly corrupt; the wise one follows a straight path, while the fool rejoices in the perverseness of evil; the wise one inherits honor, while the fool is held up to shame. Scripture is relentless in exhorting us to be wise in all our dealings, to be wise in all our ways.
God’s direction rarely violates the wisdom test. Be sure you’re not sidestepping what is wise in favor of acting quickly on whispers. If God is indeed in the plan, it will likely not involve blatantly unwise action.
4. Is it in Tune with Your Own Character?
I caution people against running headlong into a field that is totally foreign to their writing patterns, their education, their expertise and their experience in life thus far. It’s not that God can’t endorse a dramatic 180-degree turn. It’s just that typically when does so, it gets affirmed through a series of whispers, from several sources, in a variety of different ways.
5. What Do the People You Most Trust Think about it?
Whenever you sense that God is speaking to you, find two or three veteran Christ-followers—preferably people who know you well and who are further down the spiritual path than you are—take some time to describe the situation to them in detail. Humbly ask them, “Do you think God really did speak to me? Is this the voice of God I’m hearing, or in your estimation did I get my wires crossed?” Then, listen openly and intently to the answers you receive, because they might just save your hide.
Subject every prompting to the godly counsel test. It will save you from boatloads of heartache and just might affirm God’s best will for your life
– Bill Hybel
I do not take credit for these ideas. Again, this is from Bill Hybel’s The Power of a Whisper.
- Appendix 2 from The Power of a Whisper by Bill Hybel [↩]