In Hearing God's Voice 1, we looked at helping children and all ages discern God's voice from their own thoughts and temptations or attacks from the enemy. We will now look at some practical ideas to help children and all ages learn about some of the ways God speaks and take steps in listening to him.
Game One “Friends?” (3-4 minutes)
Invite two volunteers (primed beforehand) to come out and “chat” to each other. (You will have asked them to speak to each other non-stop at the same time without listening to the other person).
Give them a topic like ‘what you do to get ready each morning’.
Let them do it in front of the group for a while and then ask the group what is wrong.
Hopefully they will realise that the pair are not listening to each other at all. Surely that is the point of friendship – we make time to listen as well as share?
God is a friend who wants to speak to us if we are ready to listen.
Game Two “Guard the Keys!” (10 minutes)
This is a classic game played at parties.
Sit in a wide circle with one person, the Keeper, with eyes closed, sitting in the middle, guarding a set of keys placed beside them.
One volunteer, the Thief, is chosen silently from the circle and has to try to get the keys before the Keeper points at them!
If the Keeper points out the Thief then another one is chosen. Complete silence is needed.
If the Thief gets the Keys back to their place before being ‘caught’ then they become the Keeper.
Ways God "Speaks" (Group time, 10 minutes; share back time, 20 minutes)
The below list is best presented as interactively as possible – split your group up into smaller groups and give them:
One or two of the below ways God speaks
One or two scriptures for each, for them to investigate
Ask them to discuss together whether they have experienced God speaking this way, or know any stories of those who have.
Ask them to be ready to share all of the above back to the wider group.
In addition, as teaching coordinator:
Chose a way you want to visually present each as the list grows: printed/ drawn images, words, objects?
How will you display them: peg them to a washing line, stick into a huge paper speech bubble, place on a cloth-covered table?
Be ready with your own stories and reflections for each topic – your job will be to fill in any gaps, particularly if you have a group or two who are unsure of their subject (see teachers notes within each topic).
When we talk about "hearing God's voice", we are not only talking about an "out loud" voice you can hear with your ears (though God has spoken that way to people - can the group think of an example from the Bible?)
There are many ways God is able to get our attention and communicate with us.
2 Timothy 3:16&17.
Story from the Bible (eg Luke 4:1-13; Jesus knew the scriptures and therefore knew how God wanted him to fight Satan’s temptation)
Teacher’s notes: It is important to share that any other way we believe God is speaking must not disagree with what the Bible shows us about who he is or how he works. We need the Bible and the Holy Spirit to test anything we feel is from God. Testimony from your own life, or get someone else to share how God has spoken through the Bible to them (it might be helpful to cover both the long term “renewing of mind” as well as the “rhema word for right now” ways God speaks through his word)
Pictures in your imagination
Story from the Bible: John 1:48 – Jesus “sees” Nathanael before they’ve met.
Teacher’s notes: What’s it like? Ask everyone to shut their eyes. Now say the word “horse”. Ask if they can see a horse in their imagination? Describe it to a neighbour. In the same way, God is able to give us pictures if we ask him to speak.
Testimony of God speaking to you/ others through pictures.
Teacher’s notes: These are like pictures, but some people receive a word or sentence in their imagination.
What is it like? Ask everyone to finish these phrases in their head, without speaking: “Knife and….” “Cup and….”, “Shoes and …” You can hear words in your head without hearing them with your ears.
of God speaking through words.
Story from the Bible: John 4:15-18 – Jesus “knows” about the life of the woman at the well. (Alternatives are 2 King’s 5:25-27 – Elisha “knows” his servant has been deceptive, or 1 Sam 9:15 – Samuel “knows” Saul is coming – and what has happened to his donkeys!)
Teacher’s notes: Sometimes called a “word of knowledge” or, in everyday language, a “hunch” or a “conviction”. An impression is an idea or a piece of knowledge that has come from God.
Testimony of God speaking through impressions.
Story from the Bible: Acts 9: 10-17 (Ananias is called to go and help Saul) or Acts 10:9-16 (Peter is challenged to accept Gentile Christians).
Teacher’s notes: A vision is more than a picture – it’s like seeing or even being in a movie. It might affect more of your senses – sights, sounds, smells etc.
Testimony of God speaking through visions.
Story from the Bible: Matthew 2:13 (Joseph is warned to flee with his family) or Matt 27:19 (Pilate’s wife dreams about Jesus) or Acts 16:9 (Paul’s call to Macedonia).
Teacher’s notes: Testimony of God speaking through dreams.
Story from the Bible: Acts 8:26-29 (Phillip and the Ethiopian – they could read the whole story to v 40), Acts 10:1-8 (Cornelius is visited by an angel), Luke 1:8-20 (Zechariah’s angelic visit). There are many others!
Teacher’s notes: We may not see them every day, but the Bible is full of stories of angel’s involvement in helping people know God’s plans. Testimony of God speaking through angels.
Story from the Bible: 1 Kings 17: 7-16 (Elijah and the widow of Zarepath) or 2 Kings 20:1-7 (Hezekiah and Isaiah) or 2 Kings 4:42-44 (Elisha feeds a hundred) or Acts 3:1-6 (Peter and John at the Temple)
Teacher’s notes: The Bible is full of God using other people to reveal his heart, whether as prophets (“Prophecy” is hearing God and speaking out what he says) or as preachers, teachers and leaders. Testimony of God speaking through other people.
Romans 1:20, Psalm 19:1-6, Job 38:19-33
Teacher’s notes: the beauty, variety and complexity of creation shouts about our Creator’s character, nature and ways. He has surrounded us with illustrations of his power and opportunities for awe and wonder. Testimony of God speaking through creation.
There are many other ways God speaks and observations to be made about them (eg God’s fondness for puns and double meanings, metaphors, imagery, telling stories etc). There is far more to explore depending on where your group are in their adventures in hearing God.
Application (10-15 minutes)
So far, so much information!
Now it’s time to put this into practice.
Have paper and coloured pens ready for any younger (or older!) folks to draw or write if they want to.
If you like, use the Steps of Intercession to prepare your hearts to listen to God.
Or simply -
Invite the group to get comfortable and in their own space. They can lie, sit, lean – however they best concentrate.
Invite the Holy Spirit to come and share what is in God’s heart
Invite your group to ask God a question, eg:
How have I brought joy to your heart today?
If you could play a game with me, what would it be? Why? (Thanks to Rachel Turner for this great question!)
Wait quietly for a minute or two (a minute is better- young people don’t need as long as adults!)
Share with each other in pairs.
Invite anyone who would like to, to share with the group.
Alternative listening to God activities:
Give out a passage of scripture, eg Psalm 23 or Psalm 139.
In pairs, each person asks God which line or section he wants to highlight to their partner today. Then ask him why.
Pairs share with each other.
In pairs, think or an animal each (just whatever pops into your head). Tell your partner what your animal is.
Ask God how he would like to encourage your partner using the imagery of that animal (eg partner has “eagle” – God might say he’s given them discernment, ability to see truth clearly, or that he’s giving them new strength etc)
Pairs share with each other.
This activity can be done with all kinds of things: fruit, seasons, weather!
We recommend Parenting Children for a life of Faith by Rachel Turner for a different perspective on how to chat with children about the ways God communicates.