Here are 3 signs the Holy Spirit is whispering something to you.
1. If Your Feelings Are Shouting in Fear, Oftentimes the Holy Spirit Will Whisper Something to You
I don’t mean that the Holy Spirit is the one causing your feelings to shout in fear. What I mean is that when your internal world is very loud, God often speaks quietly to force you to quiet yourself to hear him.
Before I knew God was leading me into seminary and into ministry, I was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education to be a teacher. I remember learning a tactic from an older teacher who was mentoring that involved using whispering to quiet a rowdy classroom. She taught me that if the kids are yelling and acting crazy, your natural desire will be yell louder than them to get their attention. But what can often be more effective is to stand in front of the classroom and start telling them what you want them to do in a whisper. The kids will notice you are saying something but since they are yelling and acting crazy they won’t be able to hear it. They will then naturally all quiet down so they can hear what you are saying.
I think God often does something like this with us. When we are all worked up emotionally, when we are frustrated or fearful or shocked, our internal senses will be so overwhelmed we won’t be able to hear God properly. But when we sense God whispering something to us and we want to hear him, we will then be willing to quiet our emotions and settle down to hear God. So rather than yell and shout and jump around to get our attention which would just add to the chaos we are feeling inside, God will often whisper. I think this one of the reasons he chose to use a whisper to speak to Elijah in 1 Kings 19:9-13. It reads:
There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He said, ‘I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.’ And he said, ‘Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”
God often waits to speak until we are ready to listen. Elijah was fearful and upset. His life was at risk and he was hiding in a cave. I imagine his emotions to be all over the place. Perhaps God spoke in a whisper to cause Elijah to calm himself down so he could hear God’s voice accurately.
2. A Subtle Conviction Over a Long Period of Time Is Often a Sign the Holy Spirit Is Whispering to You
Sometimes the Holy Spirit does more than whisper. Sometimes he shouts in an unmistakable way. One of the ways you know the Holy Spirit is clearly speaking loudly to you is when you have a strong and sudden conviction about a certain sin you know you have committed because one of the primary jobs of the Holy Spirit is to bring conviction of sin. In John 16:7-8 Jesus said:
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment . . . .”
While God often brings a sudden conviction when we sin, God is also kind to us by bringing sanctification through a process. When we believe in Jesus and repent of sin, God transfers all of the righteousness of Jesus to us, which is called justification. This happens one time right at the moment you are saved by his grace. But from them on God puts us on the journey of sanctification, which is where we learn to walk more and more in holiness. Sanctification can occur in big steps forward, but more often than not the Holy Spirit works on us in a kind, steady, progressive way forward.
As humans, we look at those further back than us in their faith journey and say something like, “My goodness, I know they said they just became a Christian but look at all that sin still in their life. They’re still smoking. They’re still dating an unbeliever. And they still don’t read their Bibles every day like I told them they need to do.”
All of these statements are true. Doing things harmful to the body is sin. It is a sin to be unequally yoked. And Christian should eat daily from God’s word. But in our pride we forget that sanctification is a process. We did not get to where we are in one moment and yet we often expect others to get to where we are in half the time it took us to get here. God is not okay with out sins and he will convict us, but he does this in a way that is kind and measured. In Jeremiah 31:2-3 (NIV) it states:
This is what the Lord says: ‘The people who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness; I will come to give rest to Israel.’ The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.’”
The word of God shows us the whole truth. On one hand, we must all be eager to repent as quickly as possible because you never know when your life will end. But on the other hand, in humility we must also accept that God draws us with kindness rather than transporting us to where he wants us in an instant.
My point is this: Oftentimes the Holy Spirit will convict you of sin not by shouting loudly all at once but rather through whispering consistently in your conscience about a certain sin pattern he wants you to change. If you have sensed for a long time that the Holy Spirit is lovingly convicting you about something and this subtle conviction is not going away, this is often a sign the Spirit truly is whispering to you and wants you to obey.
3. If Your Heart Was Being Prepared Before an Opportunity Was Even Available, Oftentimes This Is the Holy Spirit Whispering to You
One sign that God is truly working is when he gets you ready for something before you even knew what he was getting you ready for. Because God knows the future, he will often prepare us in the present for things we don’t even know about yet. But then when this opportunity arises and we realize we have already been prepared for it before we even knew about it, we can then see this as confirmation that this opportunity is from the Lord. For example, in John 14:28-29 Jesus said:
You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.”
There are certain prophecies in the Bible given to us by God so that when these things do take place we will have faith and know all this is happening because God wills it. I’m not saying God will always reveal particular things about your future before they happen just like God has done for us in Scripture. Scripture is perfect and can always be trusted but as humans we make many mistakes when trying to hear the voice of God. But my point is that we can see a general principle that God often prepares us beforehand as a way of confirming what he wants us to do.
So if you have been prepared for an opportunity before you even knew this was an opportunity, oftentimes this is the Holy Spirit whispering to you and leading you down a path he wants you to go.