Growing in God: Learning how to hear God’s voice part 2

 

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

We discovered that when we seek God in the secret place, we do this from a place of intimacy.  The secret place, or our prayer closet, is known as our special place we go and pray.  Your prayer closet can be an actual small place like a cabin in the woods or in the desert.  It can be in a quiet room in your home.  It can even be as simple as showing others that you’re having God time, so not to disturb you.  Susanna Wesley, mother of John and Charles Wesley, did this by lifting her kitchen apron over her face, so that her 10 children would be quiet for a while.   It is in intimacy that we hear God’s voice.   Often, the Holy Spirit whispers to our heart. The closer you get to him, the softer his voice appears to be. This is normal, so don’t think that you have missed it.  God just wants you to draw your ear even closer to him.    In John 3:10, Jesus says that his sheep hear his voice.  We are his sheep. We need to stop and listen. When you do, you’ll be surprised by his answer.  He loves to speak to us.

Matteus van der Steen shared that when you are in outreach to the poor, you also hear the voice of God clearly. This may be because his heart is with the poor and downtrodden.  When we are close to God’s heart, we share his intimacy in a much deeper way, than when we speak to him in our own comfort.  Jesus became one of us, and left heaven to rescue us. He ultimately stepped out towards us.  When we do likewise, we are identifying with Jesus in yet another way.  God has a heart for the broken.

Mark Virkler also shares about the importance of learning to tune into the spontaneous thought flow that comes from the Holy Spirit. After you quiet yourself down, you tune in, and focus entirely on Jesus. What comes next is a two-way conversation. But it’s important to set aside the desires in your heart that threaten to consume you.  If you don’t do this, you won’t hear God clearly. You’ll get a distorted word that is a mix of your desire, and what you think is God.  You need to set aside these things and allow God to whisper to your heart about who he really is.  And so, it’s about a personal encounter with him that continues as you press in for more.

I’ve spoken many times about hearing God’s voice with our inner ears and seeing his impressions and pictures with our inner eyes.  It’s much like the process of being inspired to write a beautiful poem, or an artist’s creative idea.  Many creatives get their ideas from God, because their spiritual antenna is tuned that way.

Havillah Cunnington at Bethel Church teaches that there are four different prophetic personalities.  These are “hearers,” “seers,”  “knowers” and “feelers.”  If you look at the different Old Testament prophets and New Testament prophetic people, they all have different ways of hearing God.  Of course they do – they all think and feel differently!  While each have small differences, these four are the strongest, most common “types” of prophetic people. Cunnington led a class on the four prophetic personalities, and had four leaders in those styles share with the audience.

Lauren shared that she dominantly “hears” Holy Spirit’s voice.  She hears through words, although these words are not outwardly audible. She shared that she also does a lot of journaling.  She likes to have conversations with God through her journal, by writing out questions. She in return, receives spontaneous words in her thoughts.  I do something similar in my journal, where I italicize the words that I hear from the Holy Spirit.  Lauren shared that it took two years to get into the rhythm of hearing God in that way. Yet through perseverance, and a focus on her relationship with God, she has been given some of the most profound words she’s ever received.  She shared of one such example when she journaled and asked God if he had a heads up – about anything she should prepare for.  She and her husband had lived in their little house for over a year as newlyweds. She received a word very quickly that she was “not going to be living there for very much longer.”  This was despite the couple re-signing another year’s lease on the house.  However, the owner approached them a few weeks later and said that he would like to sell the home.   So she went back to her journal, and there was her recollection of the “heads up” from God.   I received a similar heads up when I was about to be let go from my radio job in British Columbia.  I didn’t heed those words, but I did hear them, not once, but TWICE.

Sometimes if you have this gift, it can be difficult when you don’t hear God in that way.  This happened with me, during when I went through my first desert experience in seminary.  God was attuning me to hear in other ways, and I felt like I had been abandoned.  I didn’t get words as much, and didn’t get pictures either.  But God was still there, accessible by prayer, scripture and worship.  He still spoke through other Christians, common sense and other ways.  It’s important to be open to the many ways God speaks to us.  It really is a trust issue that often involves WAITING.

The next leader who shared was Jared Neusch. He senses Holy Spirit speaking by inner knowing.  He shared that although he heard from God, it wasn’t by hearing words, seeing pictures, or by feeling. He just knows, or as he says, “you know in your knower.”  This is a deeply internal intuition of being led by God.  He says it’s a trust thing.  He would share with his wife about a leading, and say, “I think we’re just supposed to do this.”  His wife hears words and sees pictures, so they encourage each other in how God is leading them as a couple.  God actually confirms what he says through community, for safety.  He uses this gift to hear the voice of God when he is interacting with ministry students.  He would have an idea come into his head that he is supposed to ask a specific question.  This is something that comes into his mind for the first time. It’s not something that he’s decided to implement beforehand, even though Holy Spirit does use our developed human abilities. A knower gets mini impressions, and then is led to trust and follow.

Then Ben shared, as the seer, the person seeing pictures and impressions.  He would joke that he and his wife would pack up and go somewhere because he SAW where they were going. In his case, he left Australia to come to Northern California to minister at Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry.  It took a few years for his wife to catch up to him casting a vision for years ahead.  This also sounds like when Tony caught up with me in going to Harvest School and becoming Iris missionaries.  I cast the vision, and had to wait until the right time.  Ben’s wife is a knower, so once she “knew” where they were to go, she caught up to Ben’s vision and bigger picture of the future.

Ben shared that the “best way to describe how God speaks to [him], is like he puts a pair of glasses on.  This is now like the lens in which everything else in life is seen through this perception.  This includes words, information, scripture, interactions with people, and life.   People would give ordinary advice, and he’d say, “that’s great, but I’m seeing through these lenses, I know exactly where I’m going, and I’m not changing direction.”  “When God shows [Ben] something and he gets a prophetic word from someone emailed to [him], those black and white words in the email become a 3-D picture.” He also shared that when Holy Spirit gives him a simple picture, and he shares and pursues it, he’s given more pictures or a movie that follows.  Seers are also given insight. I often rely on this in teaching young children.    While it’s exciting to get these glimpses of what’s ahead, you also have to do life with people and everyday ministry in the present.  If you are a seer, it’s important to have mentors covering you as you are preparing for what’s in the future.  He says you need to be released to dream, but to dream in ‘your season and your time.’  When you submit your dreams to leadership, and are given loving guidance, this also grows trust and stability deeper in you.  While we are talking about different ways of hearing God’s voice, the core of the message is that God is growing identity in you.  He is growing you deeper, and this is done in relationship with him and with others.  Mentors help keep you “on track” and grounded.   Faith can be a component in following the dreams, visions and impressions that are given to a seer.  When you receive the pictures, it seems like this is a “now” thing, while often the unfolding of what’s to come happens in process.   Timing is a big issue.

I’ve received two words that were combinations of pictures and words recently. These were concerning my coming healing.  Both were received in South Africa, although I’ve received words before this time as well.  Every once and a while I get discouraged when this hasn’t yet happened.  I’ve been given daily strength to persevere, until this time comes.  Just recently, our Afrikaans pastor asked people to come to the altar who had unfulfilled dreams. He said that God’s timing will come to us as a surprise, and in that moment, we would receive.  When he said that, it touched my heart.  I decided to return to my seat, since I could only stand so long. As I was on my way there, I was stopped by Penelope, a lady on the ministry team.  She asked me if I had prayer yet, and I said no, although my husband had prayed for me.  She encouraged me and told me that she sensed that my surprise was to come, but that God was sure to bring it.  He wanted to say to me, through her, that he would complete what he started in me.  He would be faithful.  In the meantime, I am invited to lean on God for daily strength. Like Habbakuk 3:19, God would give me strength to endure, like hinds’ legs are strengthened to walk on a mountain.

When you get pictures like this, it feels risky to share them. This is why seers often are so relieved when the people they are speaking into, respond in a positive way.  In my case, Penelope’s words confirmed to me what I already knew deep in my heart.  They were a lovely reminder that I knew was true. As for risk; just look at how Shawn Bolz ministers.  He sees names, phone numbers, and all kinds of details, and after he connects with that person, he speaks life into their situations.  His words are like a knock to the door of their hearts. When they open the door, then Jesus can minister life, hope and blessing through Shawn to them.

Often seers can get impressions that they see right over what is physically happening around them.  My former employer, prophet Darren Canning, gets this all the time. He would see something intriguing, and get an imprint over it, like an extra dimension.  Earlier, I shared that Ben gets this as he’s given a pair of glasses to see in a new way.  I’ve had this too.  It’s like something drops over my eyes and everything around me is put in slow motion.  I perceive something, or I’m given an insight, and I share.  I’ve also seen images superimposed over people. Often it’s the face of Jesus.  This makes sense, since Jesus shared in Matthew 25 that when we serve the least of these, we serve him.  It also makes sense when we see Jesus in other Christians – by perceiving and hearing.  It’s a beautiful experience when it happens.

Abi is a feeler.  She shared of times when she would feel other people’s pain and difficulties as if they were her own. She said that it’s important to learn about who you are, and who you are not.  Often when she would feel what’s going on in the atmosphere, she would know that was because God has put her in the position to bring the opposite. So if she felt hopelessness that wasn’t hers, she would bring hope. Abi shared that many times, her feeler was actually like Jared’s knower.  She also says it’s important to know who she is, since she picks up other people’s feelings.  Since she knows how she thinks and feels, she can discern when she is overwhelmed by completely different feelings.   Abi shares that your heart and mind are meant to be a team, or “buddies.”  We hear God intellectually, and through hearing. We need both systems to be working, in order to be healthy and balanced.  It’s important to have people around you who really know you and love you.  You can be honest with them. It’s important to have this safety net.

So in each of these predominant ways of experiencing God: through hearing, knowing, seeing and feeling; we encounter him.  You may be more of one personality than another, or perhaps you’re a mix of more than one.  I’m not sure I could handle the feeling thing, but I’ve had that on occasion.  I’m much more of a seer, but I’m balanced by words and knowing.  Is one better than another?  No, by no means.  They are all good – they are just different ways of expressing God’s message.  All are meant to point to him.

Have you experienced any of these ways of hearing God’s voice? If you haven’t yet, don’t fear.  Holy Spirit still speaks through scripture, other ways of encounter, soft whispers to your heart, common sense, Christian community and more. Seek him.  Ask him to open your eyes and ears, to hear him.  Sometimes your personality is more suited to some ways, rather than others.  Since I’m an artist, I see pictures.  Tony is a thinker, and he gets spontaneous thoughts and knowing.  Our friend Tanya is a feeler and a knower, and these people are excellent prayer warriors.   But again, hearing God’s voice comes with spending time in relationship with him.  So book yourself some quiet time as a date with God.  He won’t disappoint you.  Even if you’re in the silence waiting for him, he speaks volumes through the silence, not to your head, but to your heart.  The key is patience and persistence. And remember, God wants you to find him.

I’d like to pray with you for just a moment. Lord, I ask you to help us learn the sound of your voice – however you want to speak.  Open our eyes and ears to see you.  Help us to recognize your thumbprint over nature, situations and especially scripture.  Give us dreams and visions, words, pictures and more.  We sit before you like young Samuel, when he said, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”  Thank you that you draw us into relationship, and you father us in a deep, loving way. Touch the hearts of all who are reading and joining in as you draw them to you.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I’m also continuing to have follow-up cancer treatments here in South Africa.  We tried to return to Canada to resume treatment, but two sets of flights were cancelled, and we were forced into what was then stage 5 lockdown (it is now at level 4, and we cannot fly out until it is at level 1). We couldn’t even move from our home as expected, but we are safe.  I had to receive life-saving cancer surgery in Worcester and am still raising funds for aftercare. At the moment, I’m still very sore from surgery removing my left breast and nearly all the anxilliary lymph nodes. But I am ALIVE, and grateful for God’s help and those who have stepped up to pray for me and to contribute towards the medical costs.  We may need radiation treatments in South Africa as well, if this lockdown continues on too much longer.  L-A’s treatment continues with expensive injections and consult fees every three weeks, as well as recovery from the radical mastectomy.

If you feel led to learn about my medical story and would like to pitch in, you can visit our medical campaign page.  You can also send whatever amount you’d like to sow into our Paypal accounthttps://www.paypal.me/waystogrowinGod

If you’d like to hear this article in audio format, read by Laurie-Ann, visit our podcast page (https://www.coppleswesterncape.ca/wtgig-podcasts.html)  and scroll down to #54.  Enjoy!  Please let us know if this blessed you!

Blessings, Laurie-Ann

 

 

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