How does God speak to us?
Children have an uncanny ability to ask questions whose answers are not simple. The curiosity and simplicity of children looking for answers to life’s deeper questions can both challenge and bring joy to an adult attempting to provide an answer in a meaningful and understandable way. Recently a child at faith formation asked, “How does God speak to us?”
Caught off guard by the seven-year old who asked that question, I answered in the best way I knew how. Later, I thought about that experience, as I considered what to share with readers this month and thought that how God speaks to us would make an interesting topic for discussion.
First, it is good to remember that throughout Scripture, God speaks to people. He spoke with Adam and Eve and directed Noah to build the ark. He revealed his name in spoken words to Moses through the burning bush. In the New Testament, he spoke at the Baptism of Jesus and at the Transfiguration. St. Paul heard God’s voice when he traveled on the way to Damascus.
Since every person is unique, God speaks in different ways to each of us. How we hear God speak is different for each person. As we grow in our relationship with God, he invites us to become more aware of the ways he is communicating with us. In the pages of Scripture, we discover God whose voice is audible.
After searching for God’s word in earthquakes, fires and storms, the prophet Elijah discovered that God speaks in a small voice, the gentle whisper of the wind (1 Kings 18:20-40). From this account we learn how God speaks through the beauty and power of nature as well as the quiet. In this well-known story, the prophet teaches us the value of searching for and seeking God in the silence, the space where the Holy Spirit makes his inaudible voice known.
God speaks to us through our prayer and through the working of the Holy Spirit both within us and around us. The Spirit of God speaks in us through the light, direction and thoughts leading us to goodness that God gives us in prayer. Through regular prayer we become more attuned to God and how he is working and speaking to us. Sometimes God gives us peace and confirms that we should move in a particular direction in our lives. In prayer, we become more aware of the movements of God in our hearts.
Sometimes, God uses the unique circumstances of our lives or other people to speak to us. God may use a friend, teacher, parent, priest or other minister in the Church to convey his message to us. Both in challenge and encouragement, if God is speaking through another person to us, their message will be in line with what God has taught us through the Sacred Scriptures.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, God speaks to us through Jesus Christ. Through his words in the pages of Scripture, and his presence in the Blessed Sacrament, we can hear his voice. In John 10:27, Jesus tells us, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them.”
There are other ways in which God can speak to us and he does so uniquely for each one of us. May we be receptive to God’s communication with us, a gift which draws us into communion with him.