How does God speak? Everyday thoughts
God speaks a ton of different ways. Let’s take a look at just one: Hearing God like a thought.
Usually this one is the least controversial. I say ‘usually’ because it is generally the most ‘common’ and accepted across many traditions, throughout church history, particularly when connected to something a tradition deems authoritative: the Bible, sacraments, pastor/priest, church/worship setting, in or receiving prayer, having a ‘spiritual encounter’. But, it is still controversial. It essentially suggests we are hearing voices in our head. Then, there are the challenges of distinguishing between our thoughts, God’s or something/one else (and more likely a combo of some or all of these) and how to interpret and act on the thoughts.
Why thoughts? It is rare to hear God with your ear–picking up audible sound waves. It is also rare to see a vision of/from God with your eye–picking up light reflected and refracted in certain ways off God or some other physical/material object God is showing you. This does happen, as well as other ways to audibly and visually see God or more specifically the activities, effects, presence of God (hence the metaphor of wind–we can’t see it but see the effects of it).
People usually ‘hear’ and ‘see’ God in their ‘minds eye’, an inner witness, which we may think of as more mysterious because it appears to us as more illusory. This is a discussion for another time, but it may seem imagined in large part because of how we have been trained to think and what to trust when it comes to ‘knowing’, rooted in proving things that can be grasped in their materiality through our rational habits of thought. There’s nothing wrong with this. God moves in many concrete and material ways. It just means we have a grid to prefer certain ways over others, in deciding what is real and not.
Right now sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song in your head. You are not hearing it with your ear, but you are ‘hearing’ it. Now, picture the front door of your house and walk inside and look around. You are not seeing your house with your eye, but you are ‘seeing’ it.
Now pay attention…to your thoughts, and God speaking in and through your thoughts. There are so many ways to do this and so much wisdom about our thought life in general and in relationship with God. Here is one practical way:
Relax, receive and interact with God and as you do pay attention to what you ‘hear’ and ‘see’ in your thoughts and write it down. At times I do this as a conversation where I write ‘my’ thoughts, then ‘God’s’ thoughts. Avoid analyzing and assessing the conversation like an observer, but stay engaged, present and paying attention.