This question has been asked by countless people throughout the ages. Samuel  heard the voice of God, but did not recognize it until he was instructed by Eli  (1 Samuel  3:1-10). Gideon had a physical revelation from God, and he still doubted  what he had heard to the point of asking for a sign, not once, but three times  (Judges  6:17-22, 36-40).  When we are listening for God’s voice, how can we know that He is the one  speaking? First of all, we have something that Gideon and Samuel did not. We  have the complete Bible, the inspired Word of God, to read, study, and meditate  on. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking,  correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be  thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy  3:16-17). When we have a question about a certain topic or decision in our  lives, we should see what the Bible has to say about it. God will never lead us  or direct us contrary to what He has taught or promised in His Word (Titus 1:2).

Second, to hear God’s voice we must  recognize it. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they  follow me” (John 10:27).  Those who hear God’s voice are those who belong to Him—those who have been saved  by His grace through faith in the Lord Jesus. These are the sheep who hear and  recognize His voice, because they know Him as their Shepherd and they know His  voice. If we are to recognize God’s voice, we must belong to Him.

Third,  we hear His voice when we spend time in prayer, Bible study, and quiet  contemplation of His Word. The more time we spend intimately with God and His  Word, the easier it is to recognize His voice and His leading in our lives.  Employees at a bank are trained to recognize counterfeits by studying genuine  money so closely that it is easy to spot a fake. We should be so familiar with  God’s Word that when God does speak to us or lead us, it is clear that it is  God. God speaks to us so that we may understand truth. While God can speak  audibly to people, He speaks primarily through His Word, and sometimes through  the Holy Spirit to our consciences, through circumstances, and through other  people. By applying what we hear to the truth of Scripture, we can learn to  recognize His voice.