Discovering Your Divine Voice
A powerful way to strengthen, encourage, and comfort one another
When Christians got together in their house churches in the New Testament, they encouraged and comforted one another in powerful ways. How did they do that? Not by offering superficial platitudes or merely studying together. Rather, they did it by sharing words, images, or intuitions believed to be from God with one another.
The Apostle Paul, writing about this practice, said it was for the “strengthening, encouragement, and comfort of one another” (1 Cor. 14:3-4). Thanks to a little too much enthusiasm for mystical experiences in their church gatherings in Corinth, we can see a quite detailed set of instructions from the Apostle Paul about how to contain the enthusiasm without killing the mystical experience of hearing God. Today the problem is just the opposite. No enthusiasm because no hearing. However, don’t we all still need meaningful “strengthening, encouragement, and comfort?” So what do we do? How about this:
Hearing from God
Paul believed that hearing from God was not a special gift for a few, but that everyone could share with others in this way. He wrote, “For you can all share what you are hearing from God, one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged” (I Cor 14:31).
This practice of listening to God on the inside on behalf of others is called “prophecy “in the New Testament. That’s the same word used for the prophets who boldly predicted the future in Jewish history. However, some Christians have done strange and weird things with the idea of “prophecy,” such as arguing over the supposed dates of Christ coming again. The word “prophecy” itself in our culture brings up images in people’s mind of the strange guy standing the street corner holding the sign, “The End Is Near.”
Even more important is that this form of “prophecy” is quite different from the prophecy you read about in Jewish history. New Testament scholar Wayne Grudem says, “Paul thought of prophecy at Corinth as something different than the prophecy we see, for instance, in Revelation or in many parts of the OT. . . . Prophecy in ordinary New Testament churches . . . was simply a very human - and sometimes partially mistaken - report of something the Holy Spirit brought to someone’s mind. (The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today)
In the first century church, the active and spontaneous participation of all the believers in the meeting was the normal. Not only was it allowed, it was also expected! “Each of you” (I Cor. 14:26) says Paul. Each of them offered whatever gift they had: a psalm, song, a teaching, an encouragement, a word from God. This is something we have lost today as we gather to hear the professionals offer their gifts while we sit in silence and listen.
The Big Problem with Listening to God
Our problem is that it just feels too risky to attempt to listen to God inwardly because we don’t know if we are hearing God— or our own ceaseless mental chatter. We think the voice of God should sound like . . . . . well, like God! It should be big, awesome, heavenly, and unmistakably God’s voice—and certainly not ours! However, the spiritual truth is, that inside you, God always sounds just like you! If one face of God is God-Being-You, then naturally God sounds like you—walks like you, talks like you. If we are God’s voice, feet, heart, and hands while we are on earth, then God-Being-Us looks and sounds like us!
Entering into Presence
To begin listening, first become aware of the presence of Jesus or other saintly guidance. This moves us to a subtle state of consciousness which is filled with information and spiritual energy and presences. When God speaks to us internally, it is through the thoughts, images, or intuitions that come to our mind while we are in a receptive state. In time we learn the quality of this state of consciousness. The Bible calls it the presence of the holy spirit.
Then wait quietly for the first thought or image that arises. Don’t try to figure something out. Is it a reasonable, sensible thought? Or is it wild and strange? The truth is, God can speak in any of those voices! Only experimenting and gaining experience will gradually help you be comfortable with knowing what to pay attention to. We don’t always get it right, and that’s why Paul offered the safety net of others discerning how helpful it is.
With experience we can begin to sense the slight difference between our normal inner monologue and our deep, divine Self. Whatever comes from deep within us comes with a hint of flow and a slight boldness. It’s still us, but it’s the deep us.
There is another reason God sounds like us human beings. God is partnering with us. We are co-creators with God in the further evolving of creation.
You say, “Wait a minute. God is the creator, not me.” Yes, God is the creator. And we are created in God’s image — so that must include creating along with God!
Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to Abba God” (John 14:12-14). Jesus was saying that we have now reached the point where, if we choose to follow the spiritual path, we can consciously evolve and create along with God!
Peter wrote, “God has given us everything we need for a God-filled life . . . so that you may participate in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4 italics mine).
So whenever we are listening inwardly for what God is creating with us for others, God intends it be a divine mixture of us and God. Words, images, and intuitions from God sound like us because they partly are! God so cleverly blends God’s Divine Nature with our Divine Nature (True Self) that we can’t really tell the difference between them. That’s called Oneness — “I pray that they may be one as you Abba and I are one.” We can now participate in the divine nature of God!
The beautiful thing about this is that it also takes all the pressure off. We don’t have to speak with the voice and authority of God as a prophet of old. Indeed, we should not without a unique and special calling validated by others. Everything we offer is from God, but also us—so take it with a grain of salt and dash of humility.
This is so important because one of the reasons some don’t “speak from God” is because of the abuse and damage that has been caused when misused in a manipulative or controlling way. So we therefore decide it’s best just to leave all that alone. But then we miss out on the transformative, powerful, washing-over that comes from divine words of encouragement, comfort, and strength. There’s a good reason it was such a central practice in the New Testament, and it can be restored in its most evolved form today.
I invite you to experiment in listening for others. You can do this really at any time, though if you’re in a WeSpace group you can actively practice it with others who are trying the same thing. When you focus on someone, and a thought, image, or intuition comes to your mind, you might say something like, “Here’s what I’m hearing (or seeing/feeling).” After you share you might also say something like, “Does any of that seem to fit for you?” The recipient can simply tell you if it fits or not. Sometimes the wild and strange make a connection, and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the simplest word fits, and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes all we see is color, or the movement of energy. Share that too. Often someone else is seeing something similar and it speaks to the energy or flow of the time.
When someone shares something with you, it always helps to say something like “That really fits.” Or, “I’ll have to think about that.”
Try it. You’ll be amazed. It really does help one another for the strength, encouragement, and comfort we all need in our lives.
Discovering your Divine Voice
1. Enter into Presence.
2. Become aware of Jesus and/or other saintly guides.
3. Be aware of words, images, sensations, and/or intuitions that arise.
4. Share with others what is arising.