Voice of God
Every person who has ever lived is one-of-a-kind. All can “hear” God’s voice, but how it comes to each person may be different from how it comes to anyone else. The description frequently found in scripture is merely that the word of the Lord came to the prophets (see, e.g., Ezekiel 5:2; Hosea 1:1; Jacob 2:3; and T&C 115:1). It can come to the mind; it can be “heard” in the mind; it is sometimes sensed in the impressions; it can come as a dream; or it can be a conviction that comes with palpable certitude. However it comes — and in any individual case it may do so in an altogether unique way — it comes from a source outside of man. It is often surprising and not at all what was expected. It can be inconvenient, requiring what one would not voluntarily seek. These are not just “emotions” or “feelings”; rather, there is an intelligence to it which originates from outside of the person and delivers a message — not feelings, but a message. After receiving the “word,” confirmation follows. The confirmation allows a person of faith to see evidence or support for their belief and trust in God. Again, when it comes to the confirming sign that follows faith, the variety of forms is unique to the person.
First, however, remember that all are unique and will have unique experiences in relating to God. Given the care with which each person has been organized as an individual creation, how can anyone expect communication with the Lord to be standardized? Why would the way in which He speaks with one person be identical to the way in which He speaks to all others? Why wouldn’t He carry on a conversation with each of His children in ways adapted to the individual child? As one recognizes His “voice” through the eyes of faith, he or she will begin to realize it comes from Him. The ordinary contains the extraordinary. “You must see the extraordinary in the ordinary before the truly extraordinary opens up to you. You must have faith before you are shown signs.”1
There are a variety of ways in which one receives communications from the Lord. When it progresses from initial stirrings to the “voice” which one hears within, one should not assume it will be a uniform experience. The “voice” is clearly not one’s own and introduces ideas or concepts that are clearly not one’s own. A person can have a dialogue with this “voice” in which his or her ideas are juxtaposed with those coming from the other. It is not audible, but one hears it inside. It is clearly not one’s own voice, but that of another.2
The great difference between prophets and others is not in God’s willingness to speak but in the refusal to listen. Some listen, and they are prophets. Others do not and struggle to believe the prophets. God, however, has and does speak to all. “We are unique, and God’s ways of speaking to each of us is as unique as each of us. We do ourselves a great disservice when we attempt to fit ourselves into a singular, stereotypical persona seeking only a singular way for God to talk with and to us. We make ourselves into something we aren’t, in the search to find what cannot be found that way. If we demand only the extraordinary before we will recognize His voice, we run the risk of looking in the wrong way for Him. His voice is there. He speaks to all of us. But we can miss it if we are not attuned to listen. You may never be able to hear God speak to you in the way in which others hear Him. If you determine He must speak to you in a specific way and not in any other way, you can go a lifetime without ever having a conversation with Him. He longs to speak with each of us. Within each of us there is something uniquely attuned to Him. How He reaches out to you may be as singular and unique as you are, and you can be assured He is reaching out. In fact, God is rather noisy if you will allow Him to be. We were never intended to live without a direct connection to Him. How each of us receives contact with God, how we hear His voice, and what gifts we possess are unique. There is no single, universal way for one to hear [His] voice…and know that [He] is (T&C 36:8). And so it is a mistake to ignore your own unique talent for ‘hearing’ your Father in Heaven. He did not send you here powerless to hear Him. But it will require you to develop the capacity. Relying merely upon your ‘feeling’ or ‘emotions’ alone is insufficient; you must learn to hear His voice. All of the prophets…from Moses to Gideon to Elijah, received contact from God. They were certain Who it was that spoke to them. They obtained intelligence, heard His voice, and learned from Him. None of them relied upon mere ‘feeling’ but instead ‘heard’ words from Him. He spoke with them just as He did with Nephi.”3 (See Nephi’s Isaiah, chapter 18 for a more detailed discussion.) See also PRAY.
1 Nephi’s Isaiah, 287–297. See Nephi’s Isaiah, Ch. 18 for a more detailed discussion.
2 “Communication from the Lord,” April 30, 2010, blog post.
3 Nephi’s Isaiah, 287–297.