How do we know when God is speaking? Life is full of many voices. How do we know if we're following God's will? Our world is also full of competing view points. How do we know what God wants us to do? Life is full of many decisions.
God speaks to us through the Bible very clearly what His will is for our lives. There are many specific commands in the book of life. But God also speaks to us through His Holy Spirit. However, it is more difficult to discern God's will through the leading of His Spirit than reading the Scriptures.
How do you follow God's voice?
1. Pray for specifics.
"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
There is a tendency among Christians to not pray for specific things, because we feel like God knows best. He does, but the Bible describes God as our Heavenly Father. Fathers are by nature providers and they delight in being able to fulfill specific needs. So tell God exactly what you need! If it is a spouse, then pray that God would lead you to a person with those specific qualities you desire and list them to Him. If it is strength to accomplish a task at work, then ask God for specific strengths you need. Whatever it is, tell God the desires of your heart. In His timing and according to His will, He will either grant it or not.
There are many examples in the Bible of specific prayers. Joshua prayed for the sun to stand still and God granted it (Joshua 10). Hannah prayed for a male child and God granted it (1 Samuel 1). Jesus even prayed for God the Father to stop His suffering and death if possible, but He didn't grant it (Matthew 26).
2. Read the Bible.
Reading the Bible is the primary way God speaks to us. This allows God to speak to us as we have spoken to Him in prayer. There are times when we might feel as if God's Spirit is leading us to do something in our lives. Read the Bible and find passages that deal with the same subject, so you can see how God's people handled similar situations. Many times the answers are right before us in Scripture.
3. Listen for Confirmation of God's Spirit.
God is a divine being with a mind and a will, and He can communicate to us His plans and purposes by His Spirit. If we feel like God is communicating to us His will, we should test the spirits (1 John 4:1). Remember, that God will never ask us to do something contrary to the Bible. If it is in line with God's will, then ask God to confirm His plan in your life. Gideon asked God to do this when he laid out a fleece to see if it would be dry or damp in the morning (Judges 6).
It is also helpful to seek out Christian counsel. Tell a Christian friend, family member or your pastor and ask them if they think God is leading you in that direction (Proverbs 15:22). God has given us the assembly of believers to help us discern God's will. When God called me to be a pastor, I went directly to my home congregation pastor to talk about it. He thought that I would probably be a pastor all the way back in Confirmation. God's Spirit was confirming His plan in more than just me.
If God's Spirit is pointing in a direction, step out in faith. Follow His will. You will begin to see as God's plan unfolds that there are many more confirmations of His Spirit. Many times you will begin to see things all come together and fall into place. This is the leading of the Holy Spirit who has already prepared the way.
We might wonder why God just doesn't part the clouds, shine a light on us and speak from Heaven. But all of these steps that God directs us in help to strengthen our faith over time and make us more committed disciples.