The first time someone asked me to lead a class in an encounter with God, I was terrified. I was teaching at our church’s college on the prophetic (hearing God), and the Co-Ordinator began each session with a time of encountering God. I was okay with experiencing God for myself, but had never led others to encounter Him apart from when I led people to commit to Christ. The Co-Ordinator had always manifested physically, e.g. by shaking or a physical reaction etc when encountering God, and I wasn’t into physical manifestations. I felt out of my depth.
I encouraged my assistant to lead the encounter instead.
Later, as I reflected on leading others to encounter God, various truths replaced the lies in my mind. One truth was that we don’t need to have a physical manifestation to prove that we have encountered God.
God is amazing. He is so unique. So present. So everywhere. God is so concerned with the individual.
God is not a cookie-cutter, releasing the same experience to everyone.
God is never short on time, so He never takes shortcuts and gives the same stuff to everyone in a hurry.
God loves everyone. He desires intimacy and a relationship with us all. God will do virtually anything for us to experience Him.
God is a God of many and the individual.
Thus, it may differ completely from how others encounter God when we encounter God. There is no right or wrong. In saying that, you will know it is not God if it doesn’t meet the character qualities of God. E.g. Satan can masquerade as the angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), so if we see an angel of light that is unkind and unjust or deceiving, that is not God.
How do we know if we have encountered God?
How do we know if we have encountered God–we will be changed. There will always be fruit from the encounter. You may experience peace or joy, or healing. Maybe you feel calmer or have received an answer to a decision. You may feel closer to Jesus. A truth may have ‘popped’ into your head. You may be more aware of God’s presence, power, person, and delight. You may have heard, seen, sensed, or felt God.
Encountering God means you experience God’s Kingdom values–e.g. peace instead of fear. Joy instead of blandness or lack. In an encounter with God, you can often experience movement, whether there is a movement in the grass background or you and Jesus moving, e.g. running together, dancing together. I often experience Jesus leading the way and showing me things. Light and colour will predominately fill the encounter, as they belong to God’s Kingdom.
There will always be good fruit from an encounter with Jesus.
Where can we encounter God?
Anywhere. Wherever God is, there is an opportunity and availability to encounter Him. Encounters are not limited to a church service. I often encounter God walking on the beach or around our neighbourhood. Often, we can experience God unexpectedly, amid pain and suffering, despair, joy and laughter, with friends, or alone. Most times I am showering, or when ironing, I encounter God. I turn my affection to God, my thoughts to God, and imagine myself with Him. He always responds to an invitation to be close to us.
Some examples from the Bible:
The Bible is full of people who encountered God. Saul was an enemy of God with a fierce determination to kill as many Christians as possible. God met him unexpectedly on the road to Damascus in Acts 9 with a blinding light, resulting in Saul becoming blind until Ananias prayed for him and Saul was healed.
In Isaiah 6, Isaiah wrote how He encountered God in the year of King Uzziah’s death. He saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on the throne. Above Him were seraphim, each with six wings.
In Numbers 22, the angel of the Lord stood in the middle of the road and stopped the donkey. The donkey saw the angel of the Lord, but Balaam didn’t. Thus, not only people encountered God.
In Acts 2, many people experienced a sound like the blowing of a violent wind from heaven. Tongues of fire rested on them. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. It was a time when many people encountered God.
Many people have asked me how they can encounter God regularly as an experience, not just in the initial experience of deciding to follow Jesus. Thus, I will write a series of blog posts outlining simple ways you can encounter God wherever you are.
An encounter experience for you to try:
A simple encounter you may enjoy is meditating on God. I find it easy to do this if I am somewhere comfortable and have music playing softly in the background. I turn my thoughts and affections to God. I imagine myself in a favourite place with Jesus beside me. I then ask Jesus a question and wait for Him to reply. I chat with Jesus about any concerns or queries I have or spend time restfully in His presence.
Many people call this ‘soaking’. A great video that explains this further is a free resource from Beth Kennedy if you sign up for her blog. You can find it here: https://godisgoodstories.com/
In the next blog post, I will unpack encountering God further along with a different experience for you to try. The five prophetic activations listed below will also contain different ways of encountering God.
Prophetic Activations / Exercises to incorporate into your week:
Every blog post I list 5 prophetic activations/exercises under children/family, group, beginner, intermediate and advanced. The purpose of these exercises is to practice to help us hear God’s voice in a clearer manner. They sharpen our senses to hear and see and sense God and His way of communicating with us. This enables us to grow in our relationship with God and also to impart to others what God tells us for them. Feel free to use as many of these activations each week as you can. The more you practice, the sharper you become at hearing God’s voice. Enjoy! Remember that whenever you give another person a prophetic word or picture etc, please make sure that it is encouraging, edifying (strengthening) and comforting (1 Corinthians 14:3) and that it comes from a place of love.
1. Children / Families Activation: Gather paper and drawing supplies. Ask everyone to imagine they are at a park with God. Ask them to draw the scene ie what they are doing and where God is and what He is doing etc. Instead of drawing, you may actually want to go to a park and briefly ask these questions when you arrive. Ask everyone to look to see where God is and what He is doing. Encourage everyone to share.
2. Group Activation: Get into pairs. Each person asks God to show or tell them a weapon He wants to give to their partner and why. Spend a few minutes asking God more questions about the weapon, then share with their partner.
3. Beginner Activation: Spend a few minutes with God, asking Him what game He would love to play with you. Go with the first thought through your mind and ask further questions of God to understand more fully what game God wants to play with you and why.
4. Intermediate Activation: Ask God to bring to your mind someone who is currently fearful. Ask God to show you His heart towards that person and how God would love you to respond to that person.
5. Advanced Activation: Ask God to show you His heart for the people of Ukraine and/or Russia. Spend time asking God further questions about His desires for these countries. Speak aloud a declaration or a prophetic word from your time with God.