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I’m a part of a small group at my church called ‘Collision’ and this past weekend, we all went on a retreat. The destination? America’s Keswick Retreat Center in Whiting, New Jersey.
The theme of the retreat was, ‘Hearing the Voice of God.’ Not in the Timothy McVeigh sense, but rather in the genuine, life-affirming sense. The way real Christians are supposed to hear the voice of God. That is, if you’re a Bible-believing Christian.
If what I’m saying seems odd or fanatical to you, I would urge you to re-read your Bible because there are literally tons of examples of this happening, whether it’s through prophets, apostles, or other believers.
But the point is, all professing Christians have the ability to converse with God due to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, especially at this particular point in time.
In Acts 2: 17, it says, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”
So according to this verse, when the Holy Spirit is in operation, we are fully capable of hearing the voice of God.
Some ways that this can happen include the following:
1) Through scripture – whenever you’re reading the Bible and something jumps out at you, or catches your attention.
2) Through circumstances – a series of either unfortunate or fortunate events, such as the opening and closing of ‘doors’ or opportunities is another way that God speaks to us.
3) Through prayer – when we pray to God, he answers us through emotions, feelings, and mental pictures.
4) Through dreams and visions – not all the time, but sometimes, in our dreams, or even while we’re still awake, God shows us things.
5) Through other people – similar to ‘circumstances’ except with an emphasis on other people interceding on your behalf.
Now, an integral part of the retreat was a group activity where we sat in a circle and practiced prophesying over one another. This means waiting for the Holy Spirit to reveal information about another person, then conveying that information to that particular person.
Before I tell you what happened when they got to me, let me stress that this was the first time I had ever been prophesied over. That, and the other people I was on the trip with didn’t know me very well and vice versa. I had only been attending this small group for the past few months, if that.
I’m emphasizing this point just to illustrate how incredible it was to hear them tell me things about myself that practically no one else knows, except apparently, God.
The other thing to remember is that this is nothing like fortune-telling. Fortune-telling is an occult practice masquerading as a cheap parlor trick. It’s an imitation of the real thing. Prophesying over someone is the real deal and it’s only made possible through the activity of the Holy Spirit.
Anyway, here’s what happened. As we sat in silence for upwards of two hours, the Holy Spirit began to reveal things to different people in the group. When one of us would receive a message, that person would immediately share it.
It also seemed like the Holy Spirit liked to go about prophesying in an organized fashion because He focused on one person first, then went on to the next, and so on and so forth. So for example, if someone revealed something about X person, then someone else might also reveal something about X person, until there would be no more messages for X person, then He would proceed to Y person.
It went around for a while starting with other people in the group first. At least two people started crying after the Holy Spirit confirmed things for them. They would later describe how God spoke words to them regarding things they’d only shared with God in moments of solitude praying.
When it was my turn, I wasn’t sure what I’d hear, or if God even wanted to say anything to me.
The first person who received a message gave me the word, “Ox” along with a story from the Bible. It was from the story of Elijah the Prophet from 1 Kings Chapter 19. Here is a big chunk from the story, just to give some context to the revelation:
“And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.
And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.
And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.
And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.
Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.”
Then she tells me that there’s strength in me, but I’ve felt alone in my strength. There’s strength in numbers and that God is sending other to join me. I’m not alone.
She also said that, like Elijah, I tend to think that I’m the last one, and that everyone else worships Baal, so to speak. And yet God says that there are “7,000 in Israel, all the knees who have not bowed to Baal.”
When she said this, or rather, when God said this (because that’s the way prophesying works), it really struck a chord with me because I’ve always been a loner.
I’ve felt like there aren’t many people out there who commit themselves to seeking the truth or doing the right thing, and that if I happen to meet any, based on my own experience, I wouldn’t get along with them. So for Him to tell me this was huge!
The crazy thing was that God was telling me exactly what I needed to hear in exactly the way I needed to hear it.
Then someone else had an image for me. She said she pictured a lone rock in the middle of the ocean with waves crashing over it, but it stayed strong in the midst of it and that I should stay strong.
I guess I’ve gone through a lot in my life, like everyone else, but I’ve always relied on very few people to help me, except for God and my parents. Knowing that God acknowledged and valued this about me was very encouraging.
So, to reiterate, there was no way that anyone would be able to know these things about me just by looking at me, or anything like that. This was deep, heavy stuff. God was revealing things that were at the core of my being. The whole experience was intense.
And the best part is, you can do the same thing!
This is an easy one. Go and seek out situations where you can have other people prophesy over you, or where you can learn how to prophesy. As it says in the Bible, the gifts of the spirit are for all.
Your best bet is going to be a spirit-filled church, like an evangelical or pentecostal church, but I don’t want to limit it to these two denominations. I would say it depends on the church and that there are plenty of non-denominational churches out there who believe in exercising gifts of the spirit as well.
Go out and do it. You won’t be sorry.