“The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai...” Jonah 1:1
Jonah, a prophet of God, received this command from God. “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me” (Jonah 1:2). Instead of obeying, Jonah tried to run from God by seeking passage on a boat headed in the opposite direction. God then sent a storm against the boat that threatened the lives of the sailors. When they realized Jonah’s disobedience was the cause, they threw him overboard, and he was swallowed by a giant fish. Inside its belly, Jonah prayed and got right with God, and the fish vomited him out. God then commanded Jonah a second time to preach to Nineveh. This time, Jonah obeyed and God’s Spirit moved mightily so that the whole city of Nineveh repented and was saved from destruction.
Several conversations take place between Jonah and God, but in what way did the author detail how they conversed? Did God speak audibly to Jonah? Did He give His prophet a vision or place a growing burden on his heart? We don’t know, but how God spoke is not as important as Jonah recognizing it was God who was speaking. Despite his disobedience, Jonah had a wholesome familiarity with God that enabled God to speak and Jonah to understand.
Learning to recognize God’s voice begins with developing a relationship with Him. We are immensely blessed with Scripture, and as we read and meditate on it, God will reveal His mind and His will to us. Our obedience to His revelation in Scripture is the bedrock of God’s guidance in every area of our lives, and every way in which God directs us will be consistent with His Word.
The way God speaks to each of us will vary. Sometimes it is through difficult circumstances, which prompts a deeper dependence on Him. God may speak through a line from a song or a quote from a book that makes an impact upon. He may speak through another believer who opens our eyes to a wrongdoing, which leads to correction, or someone who encourages us with a God-given dream placed in our hearts.
Essential to the Christian life is an intimate relationship with God in which communication is a two-way street. When growing familiar with God’s voice we not only come to know Him, but His personal will for our lives. Otherwise, our dealings with God will be second-hand, dependent on human wisdom and direction. It takes time to grow sensitive to God’s voice, but speak He will when we bring our lives under the lordship of Jesus Christ and enjoy an ever-deepening relationship with Him.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, bring me into a deeper relationship with You so I learn to hear Your voice, however You choose to speak. As I obey, reveal Your will. Thank You, Lord.