Once you’re open to the idea that God can speak to you, what next? Well, the first thing you need to do is learn the basic ground rules.
1. Have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
If you’ve received Jesus as your Savior, you’ve already met the first and most important requirement. When you opened your heart to Jesus, you began an intimate relationship with Him as not only your Savior, but as your friend, teacher and counselor.
If you haven’t yet received Jesus, you can right now by praying a simple prayer like the following:
Dear Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God and that You died for me. I need Your love to cleanse me from my mistakes and wrongdoing. I now open the door of my heart and I ask You, Jesus, to please come into my life and give me Your free gift of eternal life. Amen.
2. Be filled with the Holy Spirit
Jesus told His disciples shortly before He was crucified that after He was gone, He would send the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, to teach them all things and guide them into all truth.1
Everyone who receives Jesus as their Savior receives a measure of the Holy Spirit, but being filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit-what the Bible calls the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit[[add footnote ref here: Mark 1:7-8.]]-is usually a separate experience that happens later.
If you haven’t already been filled with the Holy Spirit, you can be. You do it the same way you received salvation, by simply praying and asking God for it. “If you … know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”2
(For more on what it means to receive salvation [accept Jesus as your Savior] and to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and to appreciate the wonderful change that these experiences can bring about in your life forever, don’t miss God’s Gifts! from this series.)
3. Pray for the gift
At the time someone receives the Holy Spirit, they often receive the gift of prophecy-the ability to hear God’s Words directly-or one or more of the other gifts of the Spirit like speaking in tongues or healing, even though they may not realize it or understand it yet.3 The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of prophecy, and sometimes we receive it automatically when we pray for the Holy Spirit; other times we don’t, and we have to ask for it specifically. So if you didn’t receive the gift of prophecy when you prayed for the Holy Spirit, or you aren’t sure, then you should pray and specifically ask the Lord for the gift of prophecy. Jesus promises that “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”1 He’s more than willing to give you whatever gifts of the Spirit you ask for, including the gift of hearing His voice directly.
4. Talk to Jesus
Prayer is not as complicated or as formal as a lot of people think. It’s not meant to be a religious ritual, but a living relationship. Jesus wants to speak to you as openly and freely as a best friend or spouse would, but it’s a two-way street. It may be awkward at first if you aren’t used to speaking to Him personally, but it gets easier once you begin to do it regularly.
You may have difficulty praying, because you feel the things you have to say to Jesus won’t be acceptable to Him, or that He won’t understand. But remember that the Bible says that when Jesus was on Earth, He was tempted, or tested, in all the very same things we are.2 So you can rest assured that He’s heard and seen everything! He understands and loves you as no other can. He wants you to tell Him your deepest thoughts, your innermost feelings, and your secret dreams and longings.
5. Jesus or God?
One question that might come to your mind is when you pray or try to hear from Heaven, should you pray to God, or to Jesus, or both? Does it make any difference? In the Bible, Jesus said “I and My Father are One,”1 but at the same time they are Father and Son. This is one of the mysteries of the spirit that we can’t quite grasp or comprehend with our mortal minds. But since they are one in spirit, you can talk to either one, and your prayers are sure to be heard and answered.
Since Jesus came to Earth and lived as one of us, He is closer to us in some ways. He understands us better, having experienced being a human on Earth. In reference to Jesus, the Bible tells us that “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”2 He has stood where you’re standing.
The Bible describes Jesus as our intercessor before God: “He is able to save them to the uttermost that come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”3 What this means is you can talk to God, in the name of Jesus, or you can talk directly to Jesus. You can also hear from either one in prophecy, although experience has shown that it is generally more common for those with the gift of prophecy to hear from Jesus than from God the Father.
6. Read God’s Word
In order to correctly apply the words that Jesus speaks to you personally in prophecy, you need a certain understanding of God’s already recorded Word. The Bible is your foundation.1
7. Have faith
This one may seem a bit more abstract or difficult than the others, but it’s really not so hard. What is faith? The Bible tells us that faith is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it right now.2 It is believing in God and His power, even though you can’t actually see them.
How do you get faith? Simple: Faith comes from reading the Word of God.3 Reading about all the times God has spoken to His children in the past, as well as becoming familiar with His many promises to speak directly to you, will strengthen your faith that you can hear from Heaven. In fact, it will strengthen your faith for anything God wants you to do.
This may seem pretty obvious, but in order to receive something in prophecy from the Lord, you first have to ask Him to speak to you. Knowing that He can speak to you should increase your faith that when you ask, you will receive His answer loud and clear. He has promised, “Call on Me, and I will show you great and mighty things which you do not know.”1 So place your call and get His reply!
9. Be humble
Your bearing-your mindset, your attitude of heart, your motives-helps determine how clearly you will be able to hear from Heaven. One of the Lord’s prerequisites for receiving His Words is that you come humbly before Him. You need to realize that you are weak in yourself, that you don’t have the answers and therefore need Him. The Bible says, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels”-lowly clay pots-“that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.”2 You have to be willing to consider yourself as not knowing much at all, like an empty pot waiting to be filled. And after He speaks, you must remember to give Him all the credit and all the praise. It’s His power, His gift, not yours.
10. Ask God to overcome or overrule your own will and thoughts while hearing from Him
To receive God’s messages, you need to be receptive. You need to have an open mind and heart. You need to be ready to accept whatever He gives, even if it’s not what you were expecting, not completely to your liking, or you don’t understand it fully.
If you’re asking Him for the answer to a problem, but already have a set opinion or know what you want, God can still get His message through clearly if you’re willing to put your own desires aside in order to hear what He has to say. It’s only natural to have personal opinions and desires, but you must ask the Lord to block them out for the time being and clear your mind of your preconceived ideas, in order to get His opinion and find out what He wants.
Once you have asked the Lord to do that, you can have faith that what you receive is from Him. If it supports your previous position, you’ll be encouraged that you were on the right track and can proceed with His blessing. If it’s different, you’ll soon find out that His wisdom in the matter is vastly superior to your own. Your idea may have been good, but His will prove better.
[In a box:]
Pray for the gift of prophecy! Throughout the Old and New Testaments, God has always spoken; to lead, guide, comfort, encourage, and correct His children. You, too, can hear His voice every day! The apostle Paul said, “I would that you all prophesied” (1 Corinthians 14:5).
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“Stir up the gift of God which is in you” (2 Timothy 1:6). “Do not neglect the gift that is in you” (1 Timothy 4:14). You have to exercise your gift, you have to use it. Like any exercise, it takes effort on your part. It takes something out of you, but it’s always worth it!
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We know what is true or false by the standards of God’s Word. The [written] Word is our foundation, our guide, our standard, and the rod of measurement whereby we measure all things, even the words that God gives us today [through prophecy]. It’s the Bureau of Standards by which we measure all truth and all error!