Today we’ll look at some further ways that we can hear from God. The topics covered here are by no means exhaustive. God can speak, in any given situation, through any means at all that He chooses.
Visions – Some people are primarily hearers, while some are more given to seeing in the spirit. Those who are more visual in how they process information are more likely to have visions than those of us who are word-oriented. Visions come in a variety of forms, and if you have not ever been taught about them, it’s quite possible that you have been experiencing them without realizing what was going on.
Some people have open-eyed visions, where a scene is played out before their eyes, as though they are at the scene as an onlooker. Open-eyed visions are not as common, however, as visions that we see in our spirit-man. Have you ever had a strong picture in your mind, that really arrested your attention – perhaps a picture of Jesus looking at you or doing something that had relevance to your situation? That is a vision. It can be panoramic (as in a movie, where the action continually changes) or a pictorial snapshot (such as someone’s face or an object coming distinctly to mind).
A vision might be very practical and literal, or it could be symbolic, requiring an interpretation. When experiencing a symbolic vision, you might have immediate understanding of its meaning, or you might have to ask God to tell you what certain parts represent, and then listen for His answer.
Pictorial snapshots of people’s faces usually mean we are supposed to pray for them right then. I have sometimes asked God to show me where a misplaced item is, and have received a snapshot vision of the lost article’s location in response.
Just as with the inner voice, we need to discern whether a “vision” is from God or is an imaginative thought of our own. I have known people who thought they were having “visions” about other people that were of a negative nature. They were not visions; they were imaginations brought on by their own criticalness. I have known people who truly have been caught up in a vision of heaven, but I have also known those who were seeing what they wanted to. It did not have the ring of authenticity when they related it.
Dreams – Dreams can be just the outworkings of our own emotions and what has been preoccupying our thoughts. Nightmares may be demonic harassment. But many dreams are actually night visions from the Lord. Like other visions, they can be literal or symbolic. They probably lean more toward the symbolic side.
I love hearing from God in dreams. It’s hard to manipulate a dream. You can’t add in your own imaginations like you could with a vision, so there’s less room for error. In my own experience, every detail counts in a dream. I write down as much as I can remember when I first wake up, and then sit before the Lord and ask questions about the details. He usually gives me insight on even the most minute parts. As I ponder the dreams before Him, more of the details return to mind, and before long, a pretty profound message has developed.
Some dreams are not immediately understood, but in months to come God makes clear what He wants to tell us. It’s a good idea to keep a dream journal and periodically reread your dreams, letting God give you new insights and interpret for you things you did not understand at the time of the dream.
For more in-depth information on visions, dreams, and other prophetic manifestations, I recommend James Goll’s book, The Seer. Mr. Goll is balanced, biblical, and highly respected for his ability to hear accurately from the Lord.
Next time: a few more ways we can hear from the Lord.
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