Learning to accurately distinguish the leading of the Holy Spirit is perhaps the greatest challenge we can face. Abiding in the Lord and maintaining a living connection with Him begins with hearing and obeying Him. God told Israel to obey His written Word and His voice. (See Jeremiah 7:23.)
When the army of Israel invaded Jericho, they must have heard God’s voice. The strange battle plan they used wasn’t written in the Law of Moses. And certainly no human being would suggest a seven-day march around a city as the most effective form of invasion! But when God told Joshua His plan and Joshua followed it, there was victory. To walk in victory today, you must do the same. In addition to obeying the written Word, you must be able to hear and obey God’s instructions each day. For example, you may not be facing a military challenge like Joshua was, but you might face something like being offered a job in another city. The written Word of God can give you general direction, but it will not tell you whether to take that specific job or not. You must be able to discern the voice or the promptings of the Holy Spirit. You must be sensitive to His leadings in your heart.
The same applies to us today as we seek the leading of the Holy Spirit. By studying the Word and meditating on it, the mind is renewed to spiritual things (Romans 12:2). Renewing the mind is an important and necessary part in hearing the Spirit of God. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). You can be certain that the Spirit will never lead you into doing something that is opposite of God’s written Word (John 16:13). The Spirit and the Word always agree.
Another important part of hearing the Spirit of God is spending time in prayer, asking God to make His will for your life clear to you. Once you do, you also need to take time to be still and quiet before the Lord…and just listen. He will speak to you—He’s always ready to talk to you! Your prayer time should also include praying in tongues. By praying in tongues, you give the Holy Spirit opportunity to speak the perfect will of God in your life (Romans 8:26-27. Praying His will by praying in tongues (also referred to as praying in the spirit) opens the door for the Holy Spirit to reveal to your spirit—which in turn reveals to your mind—what God is doing and how you fit into His plan (Proverbs 20:27). You will hear answers to questions you’ve had and you will gain understanding (1 Corinthians 2:9-12).