Yes, No; Go, Stop! When I speak to people about them hearing the voice of God or the leading of the Holy Spirit, this is the general response people give me about them being led by the Spirit. Very few say that they hear or believe that God says anything else of substance to them. (Nothing very descriptive is heard, mostly just small nudges that helps them in making a decision.)
I’ve never actually heard an audible voice. It’s more of a distinct thought that just kinda breaks in and it takes me into an altogether different direction usually; where I just know, that I know, it’s the Spirit of God. As I have continually said over the years, my greatest breakthrough as a Christian has been; was when I realized that I really do hear his voice.
One day in the fall of 1995, my friend Rick and I were driving home from work together; we were just talking about a new church that he was attending. When all of a sudden I heard that small still voice interrupt my thoughts; then I turned to Rick and said, “The Lord just told me that my Pastor was going to call me, to ask me to preach for him in three weeks.” My friend kinda smiled at me (I think he thought I was kidding him.); then he asked me, “Well, did he tell you what to preach too?” I said, “Yes!” “He said to preach on suicide.”
Then I told him, “The Lord said for me to tell the congregation that this message was ordered of him three weeks in advance, that also there would be three people in the congregation that are planning to commit suicide”. My friend knows that I don’t joke about things like this, but I still think he was testing to see if I might be.
He then asked, “Do you think your Pastor knows that he’s about to ask you to preach?” I simply smiled back and said, “If he doesn’t, then he soon will.”
I dropped Rick off at his house and I no sooner stepped into my house, the phone rang. It was my Pastor and he said that the Lord had put me on his heart, and wanted to know if I would preach for him in three weeks. Those words were no sooner spoken; I then told him what had happened just minutes earlier driving home and what the Lord had said to me. The line went silent for a moment, and then My Pastor said, “OK then, you will preach in three weeks.”
I’ve always thought that it would be easier to preach something, if the Lord told me what to preach in advance and what to do for the altar call. (But it’s not.) First; I had never preached, nor have I ever heard anyone preach exclusively on suicide; so the message itself was going to be difficult.
Second; even if the Lord does tell you to lay hands on someone who you know is sick and that he says he will heal them; it still takes faith and courage to do it and then on top of that, to tell the person that God told you that they will be healed; and tell them it’s because the Lord told you in advance he would.
(Sometimes I too cringe a little when someone says they hear God or they tell me what he is saying to them. So I know starting out my message with, “The Lord told me….” may not be too appealing to some.)
Also in this case, if there really were going to be three people who were planning to actually commit suicide, then that can also become a great responsibility to bear. Sometimes it is easier when there are no advance clues or warning from God on how he is going to use you.
Three weeks later; there I stood up and the first thing out of my mouth was the words from the Lord that I had received while driving my car home that day. I told them that the Lord told me three weeks in advance what I was to preach and that there would be three people sitting among them ready with a plan to commit suicide.
Then I asked them all to pray with me to bind that spirit of torment, that is drawing them to this decision and to ask for clarity of mind so they could hear a message of hope.
I then asked everyone if any of them had ever heard a message exclusively preached on suicide within the last year; no one had. I then asked if anyone had heard one within the last five years; again no one had. Then I asked if anyone had heard one within the last ten years and so on; still no one had remembered ever hearing a message solely on suicide from any preacher that they had been listening to.
Then I asked for a show of hands for anyone who knew someone personally that had committed suicide; whether it was sister, brother, mom, dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle or just a close friend; nearly 100% of the hands went up, yet no one was hearing any messages on suicide.
After the message, then came the moment that everything was leading up to; the altar call for the three people who the Lord had said that would be there. I said, “I know you think you have tried everything to get away from your pain or torment and that you think suicide is your only answer for escape from what is troubling you. I told them that they were wrong; there was at least one thing that they had not tried.
I told the people, “I believe in the power of prayer and I believe in a God who answers prayer; and one thing that they had not done was allow me or my Pastor to pray for them; for if they had, I believe that they would be free from theses thoughts and their pain.
So I told them, don’t say to yourself you’ve tried everything when you haven’t.” So I asked that those who were planning to commit suicide, to at least give me and my Pastor a chance to pray for them first; then if it doesn’t work, then they might be able to say that they have tried everything.
I then asked for them to come up front to the center so we could pray for them. To make it a little easier, I also called for those who were plagued with the occasional thoughts of suicide and for those who had known someone personally that had committed suicide, so I could pray against any generational curse caused by it or bind any familiar spirit from working these tormenting thoughts into their minds. (These I asked to come up front, some on the left and others on the right)
More than half the congregation came forward; and in the center stood three women.
As in many cases of suicide, (but not always), it’s the person that you least suspect, I would have never guessed that these three would have been the ones that the Lord was wanting me to minister to.
Two were already up front, while the third one (She was about sixteen years of age.) was being escorted up front by our youth minister, Debbie. I could see that there were bandages on both of her forearms down to her wrists. I didn’t ask but I assumed that they were wounds from a prior attempt to commit suicide.
As she walked up to the platform, I asked her, “Are you planning to commit suicide?” With a broken and weeping voice she said, “Yes.” I then asked if she was a Christian; her answer was again “Yes”. I then asked if she wanted to live and not die. “Yes” was her answer again.
This was all I needed, her permission to pray and her confession that she wanted to live and that she wanted deliverance from her torment. As I prayed, I commanded that any tormenting spirit or any thought of suicide to depart in the name of Jesus; I laid my hands on her, then I said, “Who the Son sets free, is free indeed, so now be free!”
It’s hard to explain what happen next, but as I looked onto her face. I saw an ash like appearance on her face, and when I said those words. I saw what looked like a shadow on her face departing and then instantly an almost rosy appearance came on her face. It’s like death left and life was restored into her. (I have never seen such a manifestation like this, nor have I since.) Where one moment in her eyes there was no hope and the next moment they now looked almost bright and filled with hope.
I felt that the Lord wanted her to talk to someone, so I called my Pastor over and said, “I think you need to take her into another room and talk with her; so Debbie went with them into another room. Afterwards I continued to minister to the other two ladies; I prayed for them and they both seemed to change in their countenance also, but not as dramatic as this young girl’s had.
The next day was the leadership meeting where the elders met with the Pastor to talk about church business. (I was the elder of evangelism). The first thing the Pastor said, was that he couldn’t get into specifics; but that the young girl did have something to say and that he was making sure that she got the help she needed.
It was about a year or so later, as I was waiting for the people to leave so I could lock up the Church building. I heard a bunch of laughing and noise coming down the hall; it was a bunch of teenagers and in the middle of them was this same young girl, I hadn’t seen her since that night a year ago. (The other two ladies I had seen and they were doing well, but this young girl, I hadn’t known where she had gone to or how she was doing since that night.)
Finally, one by one everyone left with the exception of this young girl; then when everyone was gone, she slowly walked up to me and asked if I remembered who she was and I said, “Yes, I do.” She just kinda looked at me with a smile; then she came and gave me about the biggest hug I had ever gotten and whispered in my ear, “Thank you.” That was all she said, and that was enough for me to know, that she was OK. She then smiled at me again and walked away. I never saw her again, but I’m sure; she is still doing OK.
As I said before, sometimes God gives us clues (very limited information) as to what he wants us to do and then sometimes we just find ourselves in the middle of a situation where he says here I am; are you ready to fly by the seat of your pants.
In either case God’s grace is there for us to draw from, if we will just trust him and respond. Don’t ask God to speak to you if you’re not planning or willing to respond or to do what he will asked of you; and don’t think it will always be something easy to do, because in most cases; it won’t be. Nor will he always do things in a way that you will always know that he is at work, until he does it and sometimes you may still not be sure it is him at work! (There is always an element of trust or faith involve; did I really hear, will it turn out as he said it would or he only gave me the starting point, how is it supposed to end?)
For lack of a better term; it’s has become almost a lost art to the Church, hearing the voice of God and following through or actually being led by the Spirit. It’s really no wonder that the unbelieving world mocks those who dare to say they hear the voice of God; they see little or no fruit of it in Church.
One thing for sure, there will always be some who will say it’s not real or it’s the devil, no matter how it is done or its outcome. But remember, there were some who doubted Jesus and some even said that Jesus did his works by Beelzebub also!
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Rom. 8:14)”
I’m not ashamed to say that I hear his voice, sometimes it’s; Yes or No, Go or Stop, (or some other kind of nudge to do something), and then there are those moments where he speaks a more in-depth word to me.