7 Ways the Holy Spirit Speaks
Does the Holy Spirit speak to us today? How do we know when the Holy Spirit is speaking? Many Christians have a lot of questions about the Holy Spirit, but God desires that we know the Holy Spirit intimately.
Here are 7 ways the Holy Spirit speaks to us:
- Through the Inner Witness
- Through Revelation
- Through an Audible Voice
- Through Spiritual Vision
- Through Spiritual Senses
- Through Inspired Ideas
- Through Spiritual Discernment
The Holy Spirit still speaks to us today. You can learn to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit in your life by experience and growth. When the Holy Spirit speaks, it is always with truth, love, wisdom, and grace. The Holy Spirit is always in agreement with the Word of God.
Let’s look at 7 of the primary ways the Holy Spirit speaks to us. Holy Spirit is our always present Helper, Comforter and Teacher.
1. Holy Spirit Speaks through the Inner Witness
Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is within us. This means that everything we need is inside of us. In our spirits is the wisdom of God. The Holy Spirit will communicate to us through an inner knowing.
…For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you. Luke 17:21
As spirit filled believers, we walk in a supernatural peace that comes from the Holy Spirit within us. When there is a disruption to that peace, it is a clear indicator that something is off. The Word of God tells us to let peace rule in our hearts.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:15
The word rule in this verse is from the Greek word brabeuó and means to act as umpire. We are to let the peace of God in our hearts be the umpire. This peace will assure you that you are in the will of God. If it is disrupted, it very well could be the Holy Spirit alerting you that it is not the right decision. We should never move forward with anything in our lives without this inner witness of peace. This is how the Holy Spirit leads us.
2. Holy Spirit Speaks through Revelation
This is probably my favorite way that the Holy Spirit speaks. Revelation of the Word of God is priceless. It is our victory. Proverbs 29:18 tells us that without revelation, we cast off restraint and perish.
When you are baptized in the Holy Spirit, one of the first things that changes besides the ability to pray in tongues is that you begin to understand, or receive revelation of the Word of God. It’s like the blinders are taken off your eyes and you can see things in the Scriptures that you never understood before. Things that were right before your eyes all along, but you could never see them.
Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law. Psalm 119:18
When revelation of the Word begins to come, everything changes. You begin to see the victory that Jesus has accomplished for us. You begin to see the principles of faith and how to overcome in this world. The Holy Spirit reveals how to apply the Word of God as your spiritual sword (Ephesians 6:17) to walk in the victory Jesus has obtained. Life gets exciting!
There have been so many times in my life where I didn’t know what to do, and the answer came as revelation of the Word of God. All of the sudden, a scripture came alive to me and I knew exactly how to apply it to the situation. This is wisdom from God and the Holy Spirit is the one who illuminates the Word to us.
Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit would be our teacher and lead us into all truth, even telling us things to come.
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 16:13
You have the Teacher of all truth living inside you. What a gift! You can trust the Holy Spirit within you to give you the revelation you need in any situation.
Praying in tongues gives our mind the ability to receive revelation of spiritual things from our spirit. When we speak in tongues, we can believe for an interpretation of those mysteries we are praying in the spirit (1 Corinthians 14:13), which brings revelation. The more you allow the Holy Spirit to pray through you by praying in tongues, the more revelation you will be able to receive.
3. Holy Spirit Speaks through an Audible Voice
Sometimes the Holy Spirit will speak in an audible voice and it really gets your attention. You may suddenly hear something in your spirit that seems audible to you. You hear it as clearly as if someone were standing next to you speaking.
We see an example of this in the life of Samuel in the Bible. One night, Samuel hears his name being called three separate times. Each time, he runs to Eli, thinking it is the old priest speaking; but it becomes clear that it is God himself calling Samuel through an audible voice.
And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see, and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the Lord where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down, that the Lord called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!”
So he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” And he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” And he went and lay down. Then the Lord called yet again, “Samuel!”
So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” He answered, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7 (Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him.)
And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord had called the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” 1 Samuel 3:2-10
Just like Samuel, if you hear an audible voice, you may likely think that someone nearby is calling you. However, you can discern spiritually that this is the voice of the Holy Spirit.
4. Holy Spirit Speaks through Spiritual Vision
The Holy Spirit uses visions and images to communicate with us. A picture is worth a thousand words is the old saying and this is true in the spiritual as well. Visions from the Holy Spirit come through our imagination. When the vision occurs, it will explode across your imagination in an instant.
While praying for someone, you may see a picture of a part of their body that needs healing. You may see a picture of a hurtful word that was said to them. This is the Holy Spirit speaking to you through spiritual vision in order to assist you in how the Lord wants to minister to the person.
You may get a vision that gives you direction like Paul did when he was directed to go to Macedonia.
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them. Acts 16:9-10
The Holy Spirit used a spiritual vision to communicate to Peter God’s will concerning the Gentiles.
The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again. Acts 10:9-16
One time when I was praying in tongues, the Holy Spirit gave me a vision that was a prophetic message for my husband. When I told him, it was extremely encouraging and comforting for him. Another time while praying for my son, the Holy Spirit gave me a vision that encouraged me regarding my son’s destiny.
5. Holy Spirit Speaks through Spiritual Senses
Just like you have 5 natural senses, you also have spiritual senses. You can see, hear, taste, touch and smell in the spiritual as well as the physical. The Holy Spirit speaks to us using these spiritual senses.
Have you ever left an environment and thought “that place just leaves a bad taste in my mouth”? Your spirit is tasting the spiritual environment and the Holy Spirit is warning you that something is not right there using your spiritual sense of taste.
Have you ever smelled something when there was no natural source? This is a common way that the Holy Spirit communicates. You may immediately know what the smell means or you may need to ask Holy Spirit to give you understanding of what He is showing you through your spiritual sense of smell.
Many people have seen angels and demons and other things in the spirit realm. We live in both the physical and spiritual realms simultaneously. The Holy Spirit can open your spiritual eyes to communicate to you this way.
The Holy Spirit speaks to you all the time using your spiritual senses but you may have never realized that’s what’s going on. You are a spiritual being. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to operate in your spiritual senses with greater clarity.
6. Holy Spirit Speaks through Inspired Ideas
Many times the Holy Spirit will speak through what I call an inspired idea. All of the sudden, you have a solution for a problem that you’ve been praying for. It seems like it comes out of nowhere but proves to be directly from the Holy Spirit.
This is different from just mental energy. This is an idea that comes straight from the wisdom of God. Oftentimes it will come in the form of a suggestion. The Holy Spirit never controls you or forces His will on you. He will simply suggest an idea and allow you to run with it or reject it.
When the Holy Spirit directed my husband and I to move across the country, it came as a simple idea that spontaneously popped into my head. The more I prayed over it, the more I knew for certain it was the leading of the Holy Spirit.
7. Holy Spirit Speaks through Spiritual Discernment
Spiritual things must be spiritually discerned. The natural mind cannot comprehend spiritual things.
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14
The Holy Spirit speaks through spiritual discernment. To spiritually discern anything, you have to know the written Word of God. This is the only basis for discerning truth from error. Once you have a solid foundation in the Word of God and that Word is alive on the inside of you, you can begin to discern between good and evil.
But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:14
This discernment oftentimes seems like a feeling. You just feel a certain way about something but not sure why you feel that way. When this is in line with the Word of God, it is important to pay attention to it.
Sometimes you just know things even though you’re not sure how you know. The more experience and practice you have with this, the more accurately you can discern when this is the Holy Spirit speaking to you. Being able to recognize this spiritual discernment can become a very trustworthy way of hearing the Holy Spirit speak.
How to Hear the Holy Spirit Speak
The Holy Spirit is a person with a personality. He is the third Person of the Godhead. As with any relationship, the more time you spend with a person, the more you get to know them. I can pick up my husband’s voice in a crowd of voices because I know him. I have spent enough time with him that I know his voice. If someone called me and tried to pretend they were my husband, I could clearly tell if it was an imposter.
In the same way, the more time you spend with Holy Spirit, the more you will learn to recognize His voice. You learn to differentiate it from other voices. Jesus said that you do hear His voice and you do know His voice.
To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers. John 10:3-5
You already are hearing the voice of Holy Spirit, you just may not recognize it. You probably think it’s your own voice. Remember, we are one spirit with Him (1 Corinthians 6:17) so sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate between our own thoughts and the voice of the Holy Spirit. The Word of God is what we use to make this distinction.
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
Knowing the Word of God is absolutely critical in our ability to hear the Holy Spirit. The more we have relationship with the Word, the more we recognize the Holy Spirit when He speaks.
How Do You Know the Holy Spirit is Present?
The Holy Spirit is always present in the life of a born again believer. The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Godhead and has promised to never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
Many people think that the Holy Spirit will come and go, but that is not true for a new covenant Christian. You have literally become the temple of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that Holy Spirit would be with you forever.
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— John 14:16
I wrote an entire article about this subject called The Holy Spirit Will Never Leave You: How You Can Be Sure. Check it out if you want more on this subject.
The Holy Spirit is loyal to you and will never leave, so you can be sure that at any time, the Holy Spirit is present.
How Do I Know if the Holy Spirit is Speaking to Me?
Father, Son and Holy Spirit are always in agreement. They will never operate independently of one another. You can always be sure that when the Holy Spirit speaks, what He says will never violate the Word of God. It will never violate what the Father and Son are saying.
Is what you’re hearing in agreement with the Word of God? If not, you can immediately know that it is not the voice of the Holy Spirit. The Word and the Spirit will always be in perfect unity.
You can also filter what you’re hearing through the lens of love. God is love (1 John 4:8). Love is the very nature of the Holy Spirit and He will never violate it. Does what you’re hearing line up with the overall nature of God? The Holy Spirit will never control you, or another person. He honors freedom and always gives you the ability to choose. He’s always kind and always generous. He’s always good. He honors you and loves you unconditionally.
Does what you’re hearing line up with the finished work of Jesus? The Holy Spirit is fully aware of the new covenant and our position as new covenant believers. He will never speak as if the finished work of Jesus is not indeed a finished work. You are forever forgiven. You are forever in right standing with the Father. Any thoughts that tell you otherwise are NOT from Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will always remind you of your righteousness and identity in Christ.
Hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit is a priceless gift. I encourage you to keep practicing and growing in your ability to discern His voice. It’s OK to mess up. It’s OK to miss it. The Holy Spirit loves you and enjoys the journey with you!