How does God speak to you? I hear many people say "God told me ----", as if they were hearing God speaking to them personally, even God using their name. I know God speaks to us through His Word, sermons, and nature but do you or most people hear God personally like that? I know the saints did. What am I doing wrong that I don't hear God directly?
This is a question that has perplexed mankind since the very beginning. I will start this answer with this statement – God is God and he can speak to people in whatever manner he pleases. In the Old Testament, he spoke to the Hebrews in dreams, through angels (which means messenger), through leaders and prophets such as Moses and Isaiah, and on occasion directly and audibly. An occasion of God speaking audibly and directly to a person is described in 1 Samuel 3.
You are correct in stating that God speaks through His Word (sacred scripture), sermons and nature. He can also speak to us art, music, through other people, and in divined apparitions. He speaks at all times, but especially in prayer.
Prayer is a conversation with God
. But it is not a monologue. When we pray, petitioning and asking is fine, but we must also listen for the answer. Praying without listening is like a child asking his parent for permission to do something but not hanging around for the answer. Prayer becomes, for many of us, like sending an email to an unknown address and not ever expecting it to be answered. Most of us have not trained ourselves to listen. But, if we are to know God’s will, we must listen to Him and obey Him when we recognize His commandments.
God is a pure spirit. Unlike man, He has no voice. If He wishes to speak to us, He must use some means outside of Himself, adapted to our nature, by which He can communicate ideas. He may use things we can see and hear in order to stir our imagination, or He may enter directly into our thoughts.
To address specifically people who say “God told me-----“ I would suggest that it is possible. I also suggest that unless God told them to tell other people that He told them, they should be keeping it to themselves and acting on it personally. You should direct your attention on what God is telling you and not be so concerned with what he may or may not be telling others.
Visions and revelations are not necessary for us to grow in deep love for God. We may fall deeply in love with Him and practice faithfully the presence of God, yet never receive any extraordinary manifestations from Him. These are special gifts, and God gives them to whom He wills, and when He wills.
Two things I would like to suggest as possible help for you in this area. First, in your regular prayer, allow some time at the end to be very quiet and still and see if God might be telling you something. Second, purchase a copy of a very short (144 page), simple book by the late Fr. Kilian J. Healy O. Carm (1912-2003), entitled
Awakening Your Soul to the Presence of God
. This book, available from Sophia Institute Press, can be read in one sitting. . Fr. Healy (1912-2003) was a Carmelite priest who served as the Prior General of the Order from 1959-1971. He wrote widely on prayer and spirituality throughout his life and directed many people, lay and ordained, into a deeper life with God. Here is one link where the book can be purchased:
. God will bless you as you journey to more closely hear his word.