While I was originally taught that prophecy died out long ago, my supernatural experiences in college began to teach me that it is still entirely possible to hear the voice of God. It took me awhile to figure this out because I thought that God’s voice must be overly surreal and obvious. After all, the prophets always spoke boldly about the things God told them, so I gathered that God must have always been crystal clear to them and that His voice must have been audible.
While it is true that the prophets had plenty of incredible and surreal supernatural experiences of God, I’ve come to believe that the majority of the times they heard His voice actually came from being quiet and sorting through the spiritual thoughts and impressions that came their way. This feels far too normal to many of us, and some of us don’t want to see the prophets in this light, but this normalcy doesn’t make the prophet’s experiences of God invalid or less supernatural. The problem is not with the methods they employed to hear God, but with the way in which our enlightened western minds perceive their methods to be nothing more than psychological.
Since God’s Holy Spirit lives inside of us and that our bodies are temples of His presence, I’d suggest this actually causes God’s voice to sound much like our own inner voice. This lesson comes from Paul.
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2:10-16)
Did you catch that? Paul explains how the Holy Spirit speaks to us by likening His voice to how our own spirit speaks to us. Just as your spirit is able to search the depths of yourself, so God’s Spirit is able to search the depths of God. And because you are a Christian, you are therefore unique from the rest of the world, because you have both your own spirit and God’s spirit inside of you for you to search the depths of.
In giving this explanation, Paul has implied that God’s voice sounds a lot like thoughts; for your spirit knows your thoughts and God’s Spirit knows His thoughts and therefore you are able to think both kinds of thoughts.
I remember one of the clearest times I experienced God’s voice in this way. I had just woke up and therefore I was working through all the thoughts that come with starting a normal day. There was nothing unique about this moment. As to what exactly I was thinking I don’t know, but one thought was so misplaced that it made no sense to have been my own.
I should probably get up now and help Jodi get the kids ready. Am I going to do anything for breakfast today or just skip it? What’s even on my schedule for today? The meaning of a payoff is not to affect someone, but to gain them.
Can you guess which thought doesn’t belong? Again, I don’t remember the exact thoughts I was thinking, but it wasn’t anything as weird as that last thought. Where did that come from? The meaning of a payoff is not to affect someone but to gain them? Why would I just sling those words together? What does that even mean? Why did I even think that?
If we aren’t aware of how the spiritual realm works, we would just laugh at a statement like this. In fact, we wouldn’t even pause long enough to realize we had just thought it. But when we become aware of how God speaks, we can’t help but raise an eyebrow.
This word was out of sync with my thoughts in so many ways. First off, business language is not a very strong language for me and here I am thinking about a “payoff.” Secondly, this thought didn’t even remotely belong with a morning routine of thoughts. Thirdly, this strange statement ended up making a lot of sense.
I looked up the word “payoff” after thinking this thought just to find that one of the synonyms for it is “gain.” The meaning of a payoff is not to affect someone, but to gain them. So this rogue thought ended up carrying a lot of weight and its legitimacy was being proven.
As I reflected on this word at this time in my life, I realized that I can be too patient when it comes to evangelism and just look to give people a good time and not press myself to share Jesus with them. But the true payoff in ministry is eventually gaining those around us for Jesus. I shouldn’t be so patient that I don’t try to lead those around me towards salvation. I shouldn’t only aim to affect people emotionally and consider that “good enough,” because Jesus wants to gain their soul. It became a word to strengthen and critique my ministerial efforts and it is a word that I need to focus on today, because I still forget.
Remember how I said that some experiences of God’s voice may be so normal that you may find yourself questioning the validity of them? For some of you, that tension has already started just in reading my story here.
“This story just doesn’t seem supernatural enough to be God,” you might say. “Perhaps it’s just your subconscious at work or some kind of psychological phenomena in which your brain is sorting some stuff out.”
But Paul has set us up to listen to God in our thought life. He has validated this prophetic process.
And therefore, the logic stands that if you want to hear God’s thoughts clearly, you should do whatever it is you do to hear your own thoughts clearly. You know exactly what I’m talking about. We’ve all said at some point, “I can’t even hear myself think!”—or some expression like it. In that moment, you often know what you need to do to feel put together again—and whatever it is that you need to do at that point, is exactly what you need to do to start hearing God’s voice.
Wonderful writing! I like your reflection on the word, “payoff.” Thanks again for sharing.
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