I've started reading The Power of a Whisper, Bill Hybels book about God's guidance. It's got me wondering about the process of discernment and how you tell the difference between a whisper from God and a self-generated good idea. There are some obvious things that come to mind.
First of all is the very obvious is that if it's a bad idea, and idea that doesn't honour God, then it can't be a whisper of guidance. But beyond that, if you have an active imagination like me, you'll have hundreds of ideas that float into and often out of your mind.
One of the things I do with these ideas is to drop them into conversations to see how people react. I'm quite discriminating in choosing which conversation and with whom to share particular ideas, but even just the act of sharing an idea can help me in the process of working out if God is in this.
Of course the one thing you really need to develop is a sensitive heart in order to listen for and to the whisper that comes from God. And there are no shortcuts for this. God may be speaking, but if you haven't learnt to listen, you won't find it easy to hear. So perhaps the one thing we need to cultivate is time spent in quietness in the presence of the God who loves to speak.