Rebecca Holihan, is part of the Mantle of Praise Ministry team. She teaches how to cultivate intimacy with God. Specifically, she trains in knowing God’s voice, dream interpretation, and healing the sick. She is also a part of the pastoral team at the Dayton Vineyard Church, in Dayton, Ohio.
My first car was a shiny, red 1965 Mustang. Well, it was my dad’s car, but that is the car I used when learning to drive. All of it seemed so difficult and a bit overwhelming. The thought of learning about a stick shift and clutch seemed impossible. There was so much to understand before I could even get it out on the road. Surprisingly, it didn’t take me long; I had a great instructor. We practiced a lot before we actually took the car out for a spin. Beyond the basic operating instruction, I found parking to be easy too. My teacher had the best method ever for parallel parking. To this day, I can fit in the tightest parking spots and maneuver almost any size vehicle with precision. The secret was simply listening to what he said and following his instruction.
When it came to understanding prayer I had a much more difficult time. I read books, listened to tapes and attended classes, but I was basically self-taught. My vision for prayer was limited, which caused me to quickly lose my way. It was years before I gave up my limited insight into prayer and decided it was time to relearn an old lesson…listen to the instructor. I put aside the books and tapes and began to listen and wait. Being still took some effort. I had to make time to get quiet and just hope my instructor, the Holy Spirit, would say something. I don’t know why I was so amazed when it worked, but it was amazing!
“Whenever this happens, my heart stops— I’m stunned, I can’t catch my breath. Listen! Listen to his thunder, the rolling, rumbling thunder of his voice. He lets loose his lightning from horizon to horizon, lighting up the earth from pole to pole. In their wake, the thunder echoes his voice, powerful and majestic. He lets out all the stops, he holds nothing back. No one can mistake that voice— His word thundering so wondrously, his mighty acts staggering our understanding.” Job 33:4-6 MSB
I never realized how fantastic prayer was until I heard the voice of the Lord. It has changed everything about the way I study, respond to circumstances and make choices for ministry and everyday life issues. I have found these simple instructions quite helpful as I have grown in my ability to hear and respond to His voice.
Believe God talks
Now this may sound simple, but in our western culture where reality is based on empirical understanding, this lesson can be really difficult. Knowing that the Bible is clear about the matter is where we need to start.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:14-16
It is the nature of the Lord to speak to his people. I had to believe that God wanted to say something to me and then trust in what He was saying.
Record what you hear
Once I realized God does speak to me, I needed a way to separate my thoughts from His voice. When it comes to listening and wondering who is talking, it is a good reminder not to trust in your five senses to help you out.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”. Proverbs 3:5-6
I discovered that keeping a journal is an excellent means of keeping track of all I hear with more confidence. When writing, I quit questioning what I was hearing. I can listen with more ease knowing I can go back and review later. I also know that I have peace that when God speaks, He will never contradict the Bible. Journaling helps me connect the dots for the things He may say to me over a period of time as it says in Habakkuk 2:2-3,
“Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”
Obey His instruction
I remember sitting and listening one day to the Lord several years ago. By now I was a pretty good listener. I was waiting for him to say something profound when I heard Him say He wanted me to clean out a closet. Well, that wasn’t a very exciting thing to hear. I didn’t understand the point. Many times we only get a piece of the puzzle when God speaks.
“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.” 1Corinthians 13:9-10
The Lord wants to test our willingness to listen and respond. “Knowing in part” does not imply that we heard incorrectly. It simply means that God will give us the other pieces when He is ready. He wants us to fully trust in Him. Listening and obeying is a step of faith.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
I went ahead and cleaned out that closet. It was an old butler’s pantry stuffed to the roof with things we had been storing. We had plans to make it into a bathroom one day. I had no idea that a week later, my son would be in a serious car accident that would require us getting a downstairs bathroom ready in a hurry. What I heard from the Lord was only a part of the plan, but my obedience allowed Him to carry out the rest of the plan.
Hearing God’s voice gets easier over time. That still, small voice that whispers to you will become clearer and more distinctive as you practice. Staying in constant communication with the Lord is essential for staying on the right path. It is in intimacy with Him that we find our way, understand his nature and fulfill our purpose in Him.
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2Timothy 1:6-7
Hold onto the word
Over the years I have had so many words from the Lord that I could have easily questioned because of the peculiar nature of the word. My way of thinking and God’s way are not often the same. He speaks in so many ways that if I don’t hold onto the word and stand on the promise, I could drop the thing I am suppose to carry for a time.
“For God does speak—now one way, now another— though no one perceives it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn them from wrongdoing and keep them from pride, to preserve them from the pit, their lives from perishing by the sword.” Job 33:14-18
It is important not to lose sight of the promise God has given. If we stay centered on the things God has said to us, then in time, they will be revealed.
“… so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11
“Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.” Isaiah 46:8-11
Seek a multitude of counsel
It never hurts to ask the advice of a close and trusted friend when God speaks to you about advising others. This is a really important consideration, especially if the word you receive is directional or correctional. There are times when the Lord has given me a word that was difficult to share. Getting some help from someone a little more seasoned in the prophetic has saved me a lot of awkwardness. In these instances where you have received something from the Lord for someone that requires a bit more than encouragement, timing and loving-kindness go a long way.
“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14
“So Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.” 1 Samuel 3:19
Commit to excellence of character
When it comes to gifting nothing is more important than character. How I handle myself privately will reflect to all those around my reliability for corporate sharing. I must always remember as I share prophetically, that integrity always out weighs my gift. God may give me something that is a secret about the life of an individual, but I don’t have to share that secret. I am not out to prove I have confidential information. If God has entrusted me with a secret, then I will keep that for Him. I can declare the opposite of a dark or troubling word, bringing hope and life into an individual’s situation. Then God can rely on me to help a person in their time of need. In everything I do, whether it is borrowing my dad’s car or speaking into the life of someone, I must establish myself as trustworthy. Seeking to affirm the dignity of others is more important than my prophetic gift.
“The Lord GOD has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak A word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear To hear as the learned.” Isaiah 50:4
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Philippians 2:3
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63
Listening to the voice of the Lord has been the most life-changing experience I have had in my Christian walk. It has taken me out of the driver seat of my own understanding and put me on a straight path of keeping in step with the Spirit. Hearing God’s voice can be challenging. Following these instructions takes time, but they are worth all that it takes to align yourself with His purposes so your vision will always be clear and precise. Soon it will become second nature…like driving your first car.