How to Hear from God

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  John 14:25-26 (NIV)

Have you ever had the experience where you are listening to a sermon in church, and it seems like the message was tailored exactly for you?  Or have you tried reading the Bible and the words started “leaping out” of the pages and speaking directly to you?

If you have had those experiences, there is a good chance that the Holy Spirit is doing what Jesus said that He (the Advocate) would do – to teach and to remind us of Jesus’ commands.

If you have not had those experiences, you can learn from my spiritual journey and ask to be filled by the Holy Spirit so that you too can begin to hear from God as well.

I was born in East Malaysia and grew up in a small oil-rich country called Brunei Darussalam in Southeast Asia.  My parents enrolled me in a private Catholic school, and I can recall our daily routine which began with a general assembly of all the students every morning to hear the reading of the Koran by Muslim students (Brunei is an Islamic country).

We would then march into our respective classrooms where we will all recite the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. I have these prayers memorized without understanding what “trespasses” meant because students were never taught about it. I had friends who attended the Catholic church but my family were Buddhists (by culture) so I never thought about participating personally.

My first experience in church started when I was invited to participate in the church choir practices because I loved to sing. I began to learn all these amazing hymns about Jesus but did not have any understanding of the Christian faith. I eventually started attending weekly mass and prayer vigils, but still did everything out of routine without any meaningful thought. I barely read the Bible and fought hard to stay awake through the Sunday messages.

I do recall witnessing some of my friends who would worship with raised hands and even cry during times of singing and prayer, and thinking how wonderful that they have such passion in their faith. The passion that I lacked because I thought that God was not interested in speaking to me.

When I moved to Canada, I had visited some churches a couple of times but completely gave up on it until I came to faith in Jesus as a first-year student at UBC. A Christian friend shared the Gospel with me during a time when I was seeking direction in life, and I made the decision to accept Jesus and prayed the same salvation prayer that is repeated at the end of every weekend service at Coastal Church.

Everything changed from that moment because the Holy Spirit was activated in my life just as Jesus promised He would do (John 14). I remember visiting a church that following Sunday and every worship song would move me.  The sermon spoke to me personally that morning and they continue to speak to me every Sunday since.  I began to read the Bible regularly and started to understand it like never before because the Holy Spirit is now teaching it to me.

I want to be clear that the Holy Spirit is at work in the Catholic Church, and any other church denominations, where He is welcomed. The Holy Spirit was not fully working in me prior because I had not acknowledged Jesus’ Lordship over my life yet. Once we declare our love for Jesus, following Him does not become a chore because He gives the Holy Spirit to us as a Helper and a Guide.

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:15-18 NIV)

God wants to speak to us, and He does so through the words of Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit. Have you been longing to hear from God?

One of the best places to learn and experience more of the Holy Spirit is at the Alpha Weekend and my hope is that you can have a transformational experience just as I and many others have had with churches all over the world that offered the Alpha program.