Twenty three years ago, hubby and I were in Israel on a work party painting a hospital in Nazareth. Whilst there, we also toured around and since it was part of a subject for our theological degrees, we had lots of biblical input from various people.
Unfortunately I don’t remember it all. But the thing I most remember is walking down the hill from the place where Jesus may have given his sermon on the mount to the Sea of Galilee. As our group chatted away, we passed an old arab shepherd and his small flock of about ten sheep. Due to our noise, we frightened the sheep and they ran off in all directions. The shepherd quietly uttered a couple of arabic words and the entire flock of sheep immediately stopped and ran back to him.
I was flabbergasted.
I had been brought up on a dairy farm in Tasmania and we had some sheep from time to time (mainly for the freezer). Sheep in Tasmania never obeyed your voice.
These sheep did.
As I pondered this, I realised the main difference was the shepherd was sitting with these sheep all day. They knew they were safe with him. They knew his voice.
It made the passage in John 10 come alive for me that day “My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
Basically, to hear God’s voice, it requires us to be intimate with Him. To spend time with Him. To recognise His methods of communicating with us, His love languages, His voice, His nuances, His tone. I don’t know about you, but I want to hear clearly from God, to be able to instantly recognise Him.
If we want to become proficient in prophesying, we need to get close to God. Prophesying is communicating what’s on God’s heart to others. We can only know God’s heart when we are intimate with Him.
When I teach on this subject, I begin by giving biblical examples of God communicating His heart to His people and also a biblical perspective of God expecting that we will be intimate with Him and hear His voice. I then cover the three different voices we can listen to, the different ways that we can hear, sense or see what God is communicating, and then lead people through the practical steps of hearing God for themselves.
As Christians, part of our responsibility in our relationship with Jesus is to get to know Him, know His voice and follow Him.
In learning to begin to prophesy, we need to become proficient at hearing and recognising God’s voice.
Three Different Voices we can hear:
I believe that there are 3 different voices we can hear – God’s, Satan’s, and our own. (Sometimes we can also hear other people’s voice’s but I won’t cover that today.) It can be difficult to discern between them and it takes practice.
I find that children usually pick up God’s voice quickly because they don’t seem to have as much ‘junk’ in their thinking about whether or not what they heard or sensed was really from God or was it just their own thoughts etc.
What does God’s voice sound like?
God is always good. His voice is always kind, encouraging and uplifting. It never condemns. God is all about relationship and drawing us into a closer relationship with Him. He desires to share His secrets with us. He has great thoughts towards us. God’s voice is patient, loving, positive, comforting, safe, encouraging, peaceful, truthful and kind.
God will never trick us or contradict the Bible or go against His character and nature. He brings life. God’s voice will sound like the fruit of the Spirit (Galations 5:22-23) – love, joy, peace, patient, kind, gentle etc.
How do you know what God’s character and nature is like? Spend time getting to know God. Ask Him questions. He loves answering our questions.
Satan’s voice is full of condemnation, accusations and lies. He desires to bring us down and discourage us, to confuse us and make us feel guilty. His voice will not sound encouraging. It will make us feel worse. It is critical, negative, full of lies. It kills all hope. It is not uplifting. It sounds like his character (Galations 5:20-21) – angry, intimidating, jealous, bringing shame, guilt, doubt and fear.
One way we know when it is our own voice inside our head is if it is self focussed or if it majors on our desires. If the voice says, “How embarrassing” or “I want..” then it is most likely coming from myself.
One way I know if it is my own voice is that it will try and reason with human logic & what is already known. It may try and justify or be logical. It usually doesn’t contain any new information. It will speak what is best for us and our expectations and can go around in circles.
Sometimes we can confuse our own voice with God’s. Lots of times I believe that we give ourselves too much credit and spend time wondering if it was our own thoughts instead of God’s.
I love the idea of the first thought principle. Whenever you are asking God about something, grab the very first thought that goes through your mind. I usually find that it is a fleeting thought that rushes through. That thought is from God but this only truly works if you are in a healthy place with God at the time.
Different ways of hearing from God:
God is a creative God. He wants a relationship with us. Since He is creative, He hasn’t just created one way that we interact with Him. He has created a multitude of ways that we can interact with Him and hear His thoughts and desires towards us.
- Auditory – loud voice, still small voice, songs, sounds
- Visual – pictures, colours, symbols, vision, dreams, angels
- Emotions/physical sensations
- Other senses eg smell, taste,
- Through reading the Bible
- Impressions / ‘gut’ feeling
- Spontaneous thought
- Other – nature, music, numbers, and more
I like to bring it down to three broad areas of receiving something from God:
- What is God telling me?
- What is God showing me?
- What is God giving me?
Another way of saying it is, “What does God want to show, tell, or give me?”
I find that God uses our imagination. He gave us our imagination in the first place. Usually though we have been exposed to movies, books, things that are not always helpful in keeping our imagination clean so that God can use it effectively.
To begin with, it’s great to pray a short prayer. An example is:
“Father God, I’m sorry for the things that I have seen, watched and read that are not of you. I ask you to come and please wipe my imagination clean. Can you please replace any images and thoughts that are not from you with your thoughts and images. Please cleanse my eyes so that I can see you and my ears so that I can hear you. I want to hear, see and feel from you. Thank you God. Amen”
How to hear God clearer: positioning oneself to hear more from God
- Be intentional – desire to be more intimate with Father God, Holy Spirit, Jesus
- Confess known sin
- Worship Him
- Spend time with God reading the Bible
- Quieten yourself down and get rid of distractions
- Soak – play some quiet worship music that allows you to sit / lie in God’s presence and meditate on Him.
- Be open-minded – God doesn’t always work the same way. He loves trying new things and methods. God is creative. He wants to romance you with the unexpected.
- Ask God what is on His heart for you and expect Him to answer.
- Grab the first thought that goes through your mind (as long as you are in a healthy mindset). This ‘first thought’ principle is usually always God.
Today’s blog is part 1 of a 4 part series. Next week I will be covering the practical steps of how to hear God for yourself.
Prophetic Activations / Exercises to incorporate into your week:
The purpose of these exercises is to help us hear God’s voice in a clearer manner. They sharpen our senses to hear and recognise God’s voice 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: Grab some playdough and distribute among everyone at the table. Pair up and ask everyone to make the following for their partner out of playdough. Ask them to create what God sees when He looks at their partner.
2. Group Activation: Beforehand, place a number of various supermarket objects in a bag. Ask for 5 volunteers to go up the front. Blindfold them. Ask for 5 more people to come and stand one in front of each of the blindfolded volunteers. Get the blindfolded people to put their hand in the bag and select an item. Based on what that item feels like and reminds them of, get each blindfolded person to give a prophetic word over the person standing in front of them. At the end, ask each person who received a prophetic word to give feedback to their blindfolded person based on how accurate and ‘weighty’ the prophetic word felt and whether or not it raised any emotions within them ie how it ‘felt’.
3. Beginner Activation: Spend time with God asking Him to give you a particular song to encourage yourself with. Go with the first song that comes into your head (if it is encouraging). Then sing the song. Ask God why He gave you that particular song.
4. Intermediate Activation: Ask God to highlight a particular person to you who needs encouragement. Ask God to show you a Biblical story or person from the Bible that reminds God of this person. Ask God why that person/story etc. Share this with your person who needs encouragement.
5. Advanced Activation: Ask God to reveal the name of a country to you that you don’t know much about. Craft/write a prophetic word for this country. Then pray it through. Pray a blessing over the country and its people as well.