Lesson 4 - Ways We Can Hear God's Voice: - Part 3:
Use your Imagination
Many Christians, especially but not exclusively males, distrust anything that appears non-rational, subjective, intuitive or unscientific. We will look deeper next time into the strong relationship between imagination, creativity and the spirit. Hearing God's voice is an intuitive process, something females are often more comfortable with than males.
If you are to have any success in the listening exercises you will need to be willing to suspend judgement on what you might think of as non-rational, and take a risk on using your imagination. After all, it was created and given to you by God for a purpose.
Our imagination, and our creative impulses, are a function of the human spirit. Conversely, seeing and hearing in the spirit largely relies on the use of creative imagination. This does not mean we are to make up what we hear. Rather, it means that God uses our imagination as the vehicle by which he communicates to us. It is like a screen or channel between spirit and mind. He places a thought or picture their, and we hear or see it there.
Don't be afraid of this - you going to check what you get before you use it anyway. Hearing evil spirits
Many Christians fear demons, and are afraid to listen to them. If you fear them in this way then they have already gained a hold over you. They feed on fear. Instead, trust God. You don't need to fear anyone or anything else.
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28)
But neither should you be arrogant or foolhardy; you should hold them in the proper respect. Even the archangel Michael knew how to respect an evil spirit (See Jude 1:9).
Some Christians advise against allowing demons to speak during deliverance ministry, saying that you cannot trust a demon to tell the truth. They are natural liars, this is true, but who has the authority in the situation - the demon or the child of God? You can command them in Jesus' name to tell you what you need to know, and apply considerable pressure to make them cooperate. I believe such well meant advice is sometimes rooted in fear of allowing demons to have a part in the deliverance, otherwise the minister might lose control. When Charles Kraft was last in Melbourne he demonstrated in very convincing fashion how to make use of even the lies a demon will try to tell you.
If you are afraid to listen to a demon because it might trick you, then you will probably be tricked without your knowing it. I would rather see and hear what they are doing so I can be proactive and thwart their plans. The Holy Spirit deliberately took Jesus out into the desert in order to put him to the test against Satan. Jesus came back out of the desert in the power of the Spirit, knowing that Satan was defeated! (Luke 4:1-14) But this wasn't the last time they encountered each other, and probably it was not the last time Jesus was tempted! (Matthew 16:36-45)
One day I believe I heard the voice of Satan himself, just like Jesus did at his temptation. This sounds arrogant, but I am not proud of it - it was an unsettling experience. I believe God used it to teach me something I should have already known, and because he needed me to be able to recognise this voice because of things he wanted to lead me into in the future.
Ways of hearing
There are many ways that God 'spoke' mentioned in the Bible, as you will see from Resource Sheet 1 - Hearing God's Voice, and God still uses all of these today, as well as some the Biblical writers do not mention. These ways include inspired reading of the Bible, audible voices, angels speaking, prophetic speech, prophetic song, someone speaking in tongues, internal thoughts, impressions, emotional feelings, physical feelings, dreams, visions, still pictures, moving pictures, cartoons, voices, songs, poems, hearing music, and smells.
Possibly all of these will be encountered during the practical sessions, and we will teach on them as the need arises. Each of the people helping on this course could tell you wonderful stories of ways they received God's word for someone else, but let me tell you a story of how I once encountered the presence of the risen Jesus.
Some years ago I was going through a very difficult time in the church I was then a part of. One day I was feeling rather depressed. Diana was not home, so I went out into the back garden to sit and feel sorry for myself. After a while I noticed a beautiful fragrance wafting around me. It wasn't something with which I was familiar. It was sweet, strong and very pleasant. Having a scientific mind that likes to know about things, I walked around the garden to sniff all the plants to try and identify the source. But the fragrance was not present anywhere else, so I went back to my seat, sat down and enjoyed it. I became enfolded in peace, and I knew in my spirit that my Lord was very close by. After about 15 minutes of this I heard Diana arriving home, and I did something very foolish - I ran out the front to bring her through to smell the fragrance. Of course, when we returned it was gone. It was God's gift to me, and although I have not experienced it since, I still remember what it smelled like. Perhaps Mary smelled something similar when she met Jesus in the garden on Easter morning.
So you can see that when the Lord speaks to you, it does not always need to be in words or thoughts. Whatever is able to communicate the message he has for you can be considered to be him speaking to you.
We will examine some of the ways God speaks in more depth later in the course. In the mean time, you might like to read the stories from Peter Lawrence and Marylin Baker in Resource Sheet 2 - Examples of Hearing God's Voice. I also recommend the story in chapter 15 of Loren Cunningham's Is that really you, God?
Bibliography & Suggested Reading
Click on a title for more information about a book
- Bickle, Mike and Sullivant, Michael, Growing in the Prophetic. Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 1996.
- Buchanan, Alex, Explaining Prophecy (The Explaining Series). Renew, 2000.
- Cunningham, Loren and Rogers, Janice, Is That Really You, God?: Hearing the Voice of God. Seattle,WA: YWAM Publishing, 2001.
- Deere, Jack, The Beginner's Guide to the Gift of Prophecy (Beginner's Guides (Servant)). Ann Arbor, MI: Vine Books, 2001.
- Deere, Jack, Surprised by the Power of the Spirit. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996.
- Edwards, John, Explaining Speaking in Tongues (Explaining). Tonbridge, Kent: Sovereign World, 1992.
- Goll, Jim W, The Beginner's Guide to Hearing God. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2004.
- Goll, Jim W, Coming Prophetic Revolution, The: A Call for Passionate, Consecrated Warriors . Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 2001
- Goll, Jim W, The Seer: The Prophetic Power of Visions, Dreams, and Open Heavens . Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2005.
- Gordon, Bob, Explaining the Holy Spirit (The Explaining Series). Chichester: Sovereign World, 2003.
- Hayford, Jack W., Beauty Of Spiritual Language, The. Nashville,TN: Thomas Nelson, 1996.
- Hayford, Jack W., People of the Spirit (Spirit-Filled Life Study Guide Series). Nashville,TN: Thomas Nelson, 2008.
- Huggett, Joyce, Listening to God. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2006.
- Jacobs, Cindy, Possessing the Gates of the Enemy: A Training Manual for Militant Intercession. Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 1994..
- Jacobs, Cindy, The Voice of God: How God Speaks Personally and Corporately to His Children Today. Ventura, California: Regal Books, 2004. Cindy has also prepared a two video teaching course based on this book.
- Joyner, Rick, The Prophetic Ministry. Charlotte, NC: Morning Star Publications & Ministries, 2006.
- Joyner, Rick, There Were Two Trees in the Garden (Divine Destiny). Charlotte, NC: Morning Star Publications & Ministries, 2006.
- Lawrence, Peter, Hearing from God (The Explaining Series). Tonbridge, Kent: Sovereign World, 2000,
- Sandford, John and Paula, Elijah Among Us: Understanding and Responding to God's Prophets Today. Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 2002.
- Sandford, John and Paula, The Elijah Task.Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2007.
- Sandford, John and Paula, Prophets, Healers and the Emerging Church. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2003.
- Urquhart, Colin, Explaining Deception (The Explaining Series). Tonbridge, Kent: Sovereign World, 1993.
- Virkler, Mark, Dialogue With God. Woy Woy, NSW: Peacemakers Ministries, 1986.
- Virkler, Mark and Patti, Spirit Born Creativity. Woy Woy, NSW: Peacemakers Ministries, 1990.