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OPINION | MARK PETERSON: Hearing the Voice of our Lord

by Mark Peterson Special to The Commercial | February 3, 2023 at 2:31 a.m.

When Thomas Edison invented the phonograph and cut and played a record of him speaking, his dog perked up because he could hear his master's voice. There is a famous portrait of a dog listening to a phonograph that depicts that extraordinary event. This raises the question: how many of us hear our Master's voice – the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit (I Kings 19:12?)

When someone claims to hear from God, we typically think of a cult leader. They probably heard from a spirit, but it was not the Holy Spirit. We know all claims that contradict scripture are false because "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness..." II Timothy 3:16.

The Word of God speaks about the Holy Spirit at work in believers:

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth..." John 16:12.

"Today if you hear God's voice speaking to you, do not harden your hearts against Him, as the people of Israel did when they rebelled against Him in the desert." Hebrews 3:15.

So to hear the still, small voice of the Lord, we need to start with the Word of God. When we seek the Lord in His Word with total humility, the Holy Spirit will illumine and ultimately transform our minds. (Writing insights into a diary is also helpful.)

The closer we get to Him, the more clearly we can hear His voice. You want to hear the audible voice of God? Terrific -- just listen to your pastor, or someone else (or yourself) reading the Bible out loud.

Prophecy foretells things to come, and perhaps more importantly, declares truths through the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit. This is speaking, as prompted by the Holy Spirit, into a particular situation (such as in a church), or to a particular individual, similar to the Holy Spirit speaking His Truth to us when we are in the Word.

It is becoming rivers of living water. That's what Luther did with the large and small catechisms, and what good pastors do – led by the Holy Spirit, they speak the truth of His Word to their congregations.

In Ephesians 6:18, the apostle Paul admonished the believers to "pray(ing) always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit." As prayer is not just asking for stuff, this means being aware of what the Holy Spirit is communicating to us – His love and truth, as well as any divine appointments the Lord has for us with people He brings across our path.

Several years ago, I was driving on a dark rainy night through a forested area southwest of Pine Bluff, Ark. I had a sudden realization that I couldn't stop if a deer bolted out of the forest, and an impulse to slow down. I slowed down, and several seconds later the biggest doe I have ever seen passed right in front of my car. I was surprised I didn't hit it, and believe it was the Holy Spirit who warned me, probably saving my life.

The Lord calls us to be salt and light to the world. So let us start each day with the Lord, become in tune with the Holy Spirit, and reach out to others with the love and truth of Christ, for time is short, we are not guaranteed tomorrow, and eternity is forever.

To God be the glory.

Mark Peterson is a retired educator who's worked with people in Southeast Arkansas. He's a member of the vestry at First Lutheran Church at Eighth and Rock streets at Little Rock. The community is invited to join them for worship at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. Details:

Editor's note: Pastors, ministers or other writers interested in writing for this section may submit articles for consideration to Please include your phone number and the name and location of your church or ministry. Writers should have a connection to Southeast Arkansas.

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