Here I am going to look at whispers and how we discern the of the Lord. Whispers could also be described as little internal nudges or a sense to do or share something. The obvious issue that needs to be addressed is clarifying why the Lord isn’t clear in His communication. One response is something C. S. Lewis wrote many decades ago, “He cannot overwhelm. He can only woo.” The idea inherent in what Lewis stated was that there is an element of faith on our part and an element of drawing seeking hearts on His part. Adding to what can seem confusing is what scripture tells us. Look at the verses below.
17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17 (NKJV)
19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19 (NKJV)
34 All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, 35 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 13:34–35 (NKJV)
We see here that ‘repent’ and ‘follow Me’ are quite clear commands. We then have the obscurity of parables to the multitudes and then teachings in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) to the multitudes, which were quite clear.
Sorting through this requires recognizing that Jesus calls us into relationship with Himself and part of that relationship is learning to know His word, know His voice and develop a sensitivity to His presence. It is clear from the scriptures that we can and should hear His voice.
16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. John 10:16
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27 (NKJV)
8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8 (NKJV)
14 For God may speak in one way, or in another, Yet man does not perceive it. 15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, When deep sleep falls upon men, While slumbering on their beds, 16 Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction. Job 33:14-16 (NKJV)
Knowing He speaks and recognizing when it is Him speaking requires some understanding. We have likely all had the experience of sensing the need to call or reach out to someone and hearing something like, ‘I was just thinking about you.’ I have at times had an internal sense to call or write and encourage someone with something specific and have had them affirm that was just what they needed to hear. It requires faith/risk and I generally present what I am hearing by offering rather than telling.
My most recent experience in hearing His whisper in regard to praying for someone was in a church service this previous Sunday. During the worship time I had a sense I was to pray for a lady behind me and what I was to pray. I at first thought it was my own idea but there was a sense of persistence with it so I went back, asked if I could pray for her and when she agreed I prayed what I had felt I was to pray. She was very appreciative and said that what I had prayed was an answer to what she had asked the Lord about the previous day.
I have learned that when these ideas won’t ‘go away’ and carry of sense of ‘importance’ or ‘urgency’ that the prompting is from the Spirit. This comes out a relationship that has been cultivated over time. Another example comes from a recent interview I listened to with Carol Wimber. She was reflecting back on the events of the Vineyard when John was around. At one point she referenced how John received words of knowledge for others. She said they were simply impressions he had in his mind but he recognized that they were thoughts he wouldn’t think and they would benefit others so he assumed it was the Lord’s voice and acted accordingly. Something worked because from the time John Wimber began to lead the Vineyard in 1977 to his death in 1997 it grew from a handful of house churches to 700 congregations around the world. It wasn’t all about ‘whispers’ but a lot of it was.
Most of us likely want a little more than nudges or impressions. We want clarity and certainty. However, He doesn’t work that way for most of us. He woos us, He draws our hearts, and in many ways whispers, ‘Trust Me.’ When we do and take risks with what we think we are hearing we come to know His heart, which is really what this is about. We discern His heart for others and His heart for us. We come to understand that He wants all of us to participate in the building of His church. Given that His church is composed of people that means encouraging and building up one another through listening to whispers from His heart to ours.
So, listen for His voice. Ground yourself in His word. Weigh what you hear through His word and through godly counsel and go partner with Jesus in building His church!