As many of our family and friends are aware, my husband and I are expecting our first child in July. Of course like every new parent, when it comes to baby names, we have intensely debated through endless lists, hardly both agreeing to one name instantly.
However, one morning I woke up and said to my husband, I know we are having a girl and this is her name. It was very clear to me at that point in time: I knew we were not only having a girl, but her name came to me naturally. It was like I knew what her name was going to be all this time.
Interestingly enough, her name was not on our list of names and I haven't come across this name in the countless baby name lists I've kept. Upon looking up the meaning of her name, it directly translated to "God is bountiful". We agreed on her name with no argument at all, and it was decided right there and then.
What's more amazing to me is that her name came exactly at a point in our lives when everything was being blessed to us all at once: our pregnancy, my husband submitting his PhD thesis and subsequently getting a job, our house loan being approved and many other small blessings.
The blessings came after a difficult year for both of us, and it felt so right for our hearts to be "spoken" to about our girl's name, reminding us of how great and bountiful God is. A few weeks later, it was confirmed at our mid-pregnancy scan – we were indeed having a girl.
It was definitely an unexpected and interesting experience for me, to feel like God "spoke" to me about her name.
It got me thinking: does God speak to us today? If so, how? God may speak to us today differently to how he may have spoken in the ancient past.
God speaks to us today through his Word
One of the most vital tools God left behind for us is his Word. The Word of God is alive and active (Hebrews chapter 4, verse 12). When we read the Bible, meditate on his word and memorise his Word, we clearly hear God speaking to us. His Word becomes a cornerstone in our current circumstance, allowing us to make decisions based on his will and not our own.
In Timothy chapter 3, verse 16 it says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." Scripture comes from God and thus this is one sure way God speaks to us.
God speaks to us today through his Son, Jesus Christ
The coming of Christ was the fulfilment of God's ultimate plan as revealed early on to the prophets. It is the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.
In Hebrews chapter 1, verses 1-2: "In the past, God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days, he has spoken to us by His Son, whom he appointed heir of all things and through whom he made the universe". Only when we have truly accepted Christ in our hearts, we will be able to hear God, for God left his Son to us, speaking to us through our hearts.
God speaks to us today through circumstances
God can speak to us today through circumstances we have to go through, especially during difficult and painful circumstances. God can speak to us through our minds, showing us his perspective about our circumstances. God may want us to hear him tell us what to do when we are lost or unsure of what to do next.
I remember very clearly my own experience when I first accepted Christ in my heart. My circumstance at that time was hopeless. It was the lowest point of my life. I cried out to God and screamed at him, asking him where he was.
What I "heard" immediately was God telling me it was alright, and he was there with me in that moment. That my circumstance would not change overnight, but in time, his glory would be revealed in my life. That was 7 years ago and today I believe wholeheartedly it was God who spoke to me all those years back.
God speaks to us today through others
Sometimes, there are some of us, myself included, who can doubt when God speaks to us.
This is especially true when we hear God telling us to do something we don't particularly want to do. For example, if God told us to leave all our wealth and possessions and leave to a foreign land, we may doubt what he is saying. But if it is meant to be and in God's will, he will use our loved ones, our Pastor, our mentors, our fellow believers in Christ and even strangers to reveal to us what we need to do.
At this point, we should truly listen to God. It is also wise of us to confirm what we hear God saying by seeking affirmation of that direction through wise, godly people.
God speaks to us today through prayer
Combining all four ways, without prayer, we can never truly hear God at all. Prayer is our direct communication to God. Without prayer, we can never truly hear what God has to say in our lives. God leads us to make painful and hard decisions through prayer. God leads us to have hope and faith through prayer. God leads us to heal and lead those who are suffering through prayer. Prayer combined with the prompting of the Holy Spirit leads us to do his will.
God may speak to us in other ways not listed here, and not all of us can hear God's voice. Regardless of the way God has chosen to reveal himself or "speak" to us today, we must remember God will never contradict his Word and the message he gives will always bring glory to God.
Clarissa Yates is from Singapore but moved to live in Perth, Western Australia in 2008. Clarissa completed a BSc. in Molecular Biology at the University of Western Australia and is now working as a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Western Australia, where she is part of a research team studying therapies for lung cancer.
Clarissa Yates' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/clarissa-yates.html