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5 ways to test whether you've heard from God

So God is calling me to do something...or is he? I haven't heard an audible voice but somehow I have the sense that God is saying something – just to me. I don't want to be gullible – perhaps it is just wishful thinking or my own ideas formulating. On the other hand if it is God speaking to me I certainly don't want to be disobedient. If only I knew for sure it was God's voice...

The problem is I have heard too many crazy claims. I've heard boys say to girls, "God has told me that you should be my girlfriend". And I've heard a girl respond to this somewhat creepy chat-up line with an abrupt, "Well he hasn't told me that so push off". I've also read more sinister stories like the primary school teacher who recently physically attacked skateboarders because apparently Jesus told him to.

On an almost daily basis we hear news of atrocities committed because somebody thought God was telling them to do it. But I have also seen people clearly led by God to do incredible things – adopt children, quit their jobs to help the vulnerable, become a a social worker or a politician or a scientist. I even met someone who felt God told him to give away a year's wages.

1. Search your heart

Sometimes saying we have heard from God is simply a means of justifying what we wanted to do anyway. The infatuated young man who seeks divine backing for asking the object of his affections out on a date is one obvious example. Many of the wars waged around the world involve egomaniacal leaders who put words in God's mouth so that they hear him saying just what they want him to say.

So if we think God is speaking to us, we must first check our hearts and our consciences to see if we are using God as a ventriloquist's dummy for our own desires. One way we can respond to God's voice is to pray with the Psalmist, "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24).

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