John 4:24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit
Mark 2:8 “When Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, ‘Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?’”
The process of learning to distinguish between the voice of our spirit and the voice of our mind is a journey of trial and error. In order to relax and begin to hear God, we need to establish two basic beliefs that will facilitate the process.
Belief Number 1: God is okay with process. In fact, God is the originator of it. For instance, when the Israelites needed a Savior, God did not send a man, He sent a baby. Men and women are not born adults, they are born as babies unable to take care of themselves. Through practice, they learn to walk, talk and develop great skills. He uses seeds that, in due process, bring forth mature fruit. Just as we encourage and celebrate the process that babies go through to reach maturity, God encourages and celebrates our baby steps of learning to walk and communicate with Him. In my journey to understand and mature in my spiritual new birth, God told me to stop seeing myself as a failure and to see myself as being in process. When we are attempting to understand the voice of the Spirit, we may make mistakes; but God does not call our mistakes “failures” – He calls them “learning!" No one calls a toddler a failure when he falls down or cannot speak as clearly as an adult; yet, we often do not give Christians or ourselves the same grace while maturing as a spiritual being.
Belief Number 2: The second belief that helps us to differentiate the voice of our spirit from the voice of our mind is two-fold. First, we need to fully believe that God can compensate for our apparent spiritual deafness. Second, we need to believe that He is able to cover us when we hear incorrectly. Taking hold of these two beliefs will help take the fear of making a mistake out of the equation. Fear actually creates static in the spirit realm that prevents us from hearing God’s voice clearly. We remove the fear of making a mistake by making our God bigger than any mistake we can make. Yes, we need to get counsel and line up what we hear with the written word of God, but once we have done that, we just need to believe that if we are wrong, God can cover us if we have misheard.
With these beliefs firmly established, we can move onto the actual process of increasing our ability to hear the spirit within. It is important to note that many people expect God’s voice to sound completely different than any voice they have heard before. Because of this, they do not recognize when He is speaking. Sometimes believers mistake the enemies voice for their own, and are surprised to find that God’s voice can also be confused with their own. “When God speaks, it’s not always a huge spectacle, but He usually speaks in the still small voice (I Kings 19:11-13). Through practice and knowing what to look for, we can become confident in our ability to hear His voice.
Once we believe that our spirit (which is one with the Holy Spirit) has the ability to impart wisdom, knowledge and an awareness of what is happening in the unseen realm; we should have an expectation that our spirit has something to say as often as any other sense (like touch or smell) has information to communicate.
When I told God that I wanted to learn how to discern and hear the voice of the spirit, He actually began an interesting and specific process. One day, I had a thought flash through my mind that I should take a dessert to a certain meeting. I dismissed the thought because I knew someone else had been contacted to bring dessert. When I arrived, I discovered that she was not able to come or bring dessert. Strangely enough, in a short amount of time, a few other things of this nature began happening. I began to realize that my spirit may have more information than my brain, so I started to take heed of those flashes of information.
On another occasion, while I was in a prayer meeting, I had a thought flash through my mind that there was a large angel standing behind me. At first I was able to believe that this was my spirit giving me cool information, but then another thought came. This time, it flashed through my mind much the same way, but I heard that the angel had red hair. This information, an angel with red hair, was so bizarre that doubts assailed me. Even though I received the information the same way, I had a different response. My brain rationalized that surely my overly active imagination was making this up! Instead of leaning into the impression and asking more questions, I shut down the voice I was hearing in my mind and relied on my own understanding; however, after the prayer meeting, a person came to me and said they had seen a big angel behind me with red hair! Wow, that really raised my faith in my ability to hear. As the voice of the spirit continued to speak, I realized that I was improving my ability to hear and distinguish what was of the spirit and what was not. None of these examples I shared were life or death situations, but the practice of hearing with outside confirmation on the small things has helped me to trust in the bigger things I hear now. Learning to hear when there is no crisis is good practice for when we are under fire and need urgent help. I have discovered that the Spirit loves to teach, so I enjoy asking questions and dialoguing about things that have no major consequence. My goal is to trust what my spirit is saying as equally as I trust my natural sight, hearing, smell or touch. This will enable me to live with the conscious realty that I am living not just in this natural realm, but also in the realm of the spirit (which is not limited to my natural mind).
APPLICATION: By faith, ask your spirit questions like “Where are the angels standing in this room?” Before your day or week begins, listen for thoughts that will apply to your day or week and write them down to compare with how the actual day or week plays out. Ask God to teach you to hear more clearly and expect some fun. He is not a harsh teacher, He likes to have fun during the process!
DECLARATION: My brain hears and responds easily to the voice of the Spirit.