How Do You Know If God Is Saying, "Yes," "No," or "Wait"? (Talk Back Series)


Talk Back Question:  I believe that God answers all prayers, and no prayer is left unanswered and unheard.  However, how do we know God's answer - if it's a Yes, No, or Wait?
[This question can in on a Talk Back card at our church. Answered by Matt Banner and Josh Broward.]
It sounds like you already have a strong faith in God, and a true belief that God hears and answers our prayers. But all Christians struggle with this question of how to discern God’s voice and how to know what God is saying.
It would be really easy if God just spoke to us in loud, booming voice and told us what was going to happen. But, unfortunately, that has never happened for me. It takes, time, patience and maturity to learn how to discern God’s voice. But Jeremiah 29:12-13 says "Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." First, we must make sure that we are seeking God and praying to Him sincerely.
Next, we must be sure that we are praying for God’s will and for things that are part of God’s guidance in our lives. It’s okay to ask for jewelry or a new wallet, but these are things that we are asking for in our own selfish way and not things that are for the glory of God. John 14:13 says “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” This is not simply invoking Jesus’ name to get what we want, but instead, it says we should ask for things in the same way that Christ would ask and in the same spirit that Christ would pray.
Thankfully, there are many guides to help us figure out how God is answering us.
  1. Scripture ~ The Bible is the inspired Word of God and often when we read the Scripture, we will remember or read something that helps us know the answer.
  2. The Holy Spirit speaking to our heart ~ Sometimes, we can feel God’s Spirit in our lives and in our prayers.
  3. Godly Counsel ~ Talking with people you know and trust in the church can help you see where God is leading
  4. The peace of God ~ Sometimes, when you are really struggling with an issue or decision, your heart will become calm and peaceful, and you know what to do or where God is leading.
  5. Circumstance/Timing ~ The actions and events around us can confirm what God is saying and sometimes those circumstances are the answer.
God sometimes speaks to us using two or more of these ways. It is important to seek out God’s answer as much as possible.  But we must also be aware that we are imperfect beings and we will make mistakes.  If we sincerely seek God and pray to God, then we can discern God’s voice.  
But sometimes, the only way to know the difference between "No" and "Wait" is to ... wait.  Sometimes, "No" and "No for now" sound exactly the same and require the same basic response from us.  We just have to release the issue to God and allow him to make his plan clear over time.