Listening to the Holy Spirit: A Guide for Sharing Jesus

As a Christian, you may want to share Jesus, but sometimes it’s difficult to know what to say. You don’t want to “preach” at people, ruin the vibe of a conversation, or just seem plain weird. So, what should you do?

It’s easy to get so caught up in a moment that you forget you have a helper to guide you—the Holy Spirit, God Himself! (John 14:26). The secret to knowing how to bring up Jesus in the moment is to connect with the Holy Spirit and work in tandem with Him.

At first, listening to the Holy Spirit might seem intimidating or impossible. You might ask questions like, “How do I know it’s Him and not just me, or that the extra shot of coffee I had at lunch time?”

Learning to discern the Holy Spirit’s voice from the noise around you is key to sharing Jesus.

So let’s set some foundations:

  1. The Holy Spirit is God: To recognise and understand the Holy Spirit’s voice, we need to know who the Holy Spirit is. The Bible says that He is part of the God-head with the Father and Jesus. While He is a mysterious expression of God that we can’t fully understand, He is an active force and wants to guide us, just like He guided so many people in the Bible (Luke 2:27-32, 2 Peter 1:21, Acts 8:29-31). As part of the God-head, the Holy Spirit shares the same character as God the Father and Jesus, so what you hear will always line up with God’s nature—loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, and so on (Galatians 5:22).
  2. The Holy Spirit wants to be pursued: The Bible says that if we seek God, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13), and the same is true for the Holy Spirit. Spending time reading the Gospels or studying His character will help you learn to discern His voice—what He would and wouldn’t say (Romans 10:17). The Bible says that God’s word gives peace (Isaiah 32:17, John 14:27, Romans 15:13, Philippians 4:7), so if you hear something that you don’t feel peace about, you should question it. You can also pray that the voice of the Holy Spirit will become clear to you as you spend time with Him (John 10:27)—like being able to pick out a friends’ voice in a room even when you can’t see them.
  3. The Holy Spirit wants to fill you: The Bible tells us to be “filled” with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). In the original Greek language, this is an ongoing and active practice. This may require some mindset shifts, like learning to be thankful to God (Psalm 100:4), repenting and apologising for the wrong things we’ve done (Psalm 66:18), or silencing the negative thoughts the devil places in our minds (James 4:7). Overcoming these mental and emotional barriers can open us up to be more receptive and willing to what He’s asked. If you struggle with this, pray to God—He will help you.
  4. The Holy Spirit wants you to respond: The Bible encourages us to have open hearts when we hear His voice (Hebrews 3:15), and to be “doers of the word”, not just hearers (James 1:22). This requires action—we must learn to respond to the Holy Spirit. Usually, the Holy Spirit will show up as “promptings”—like suddenly recalling a Bible verse, a story or something your pastor once said. Sometimes it’s a strong feeling or urge to talk to someone, or mention a particular topic. God wants you to follow those prompts so He can show up in miraculous ways in your life, and in the lives of others.

If you still feel unsure about hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit, trust that He will train you in this. CS Lewis, quoting his favourite author George MacDonald, has a great saying about the nature of God: that He is easy to please but hard to satisfy. This means that the Holy Spirit is totally okay with how you come to Him–sensitive to His voice or not. But you can trust that He is satisfied with nothing less than your perfect ability to hear Him and follow Him.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, He’s been leading you your whole life, and He’s a big part of the reason you accepted Jesus in the first place. You can do this!

Sharing Jesus from the position of being led by the Holy Spirit takes the pressure off. It’s as simple as being aware that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you during your conversations and interactions with others. Listen and follow His voice the best you can. You can be confident knowing that salvation is His work – your work is to be sensitive to His voice and follow His lead.


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