Prayer in its purest form is a love relationship with Abba Father. It’s an enjoyable relationship, not a religious activity. It’s the privilege of soaring to the very throne room of God to touch his face. Our souls are starved for this sense of awe—to speak and to hear from the living God who loves us and is waiting to share his heart with us.
Intimacy does not exist when our relationship is built on one-way speeches. As I pray to God, I’m fully aware that both of us will speak and both of us will listen. As you practice two-way prayer, listening carefully and humbly, you’ll hear him speak. And this prophetic interchange is not just limited to verbal communication. You can also expect to encounter him in other ways.
Preparation for Spiritual Warfare
Regardless of how you hear him, this divine encounter will always do two things: it will change you, and it will give you ammunition for spiritual warfare. As you enter into prayer, the Father will not only speak to you, but he will also pray through you. You’ll become one who hears from God in the secret place during your personal alone time with him.
Sometimes people ask me, “How do I know when it’s God speaking and when it’s the enemy? I don’t want to be misled. I only want to listen to the Holy Spirit.” Here are some simple guidelines for knowing God’s voice and discerning when it’s not him, but the voice of the enemy:
• Jesus is a gentle Shepherd, and his voice drips with mercy. Jesus does not condemn your personal worth; but satan is a condemning and accusing intimidator.
• The Lord’s voice is often quiet and deeply internal; satan’s is intrusive and vulgar.
• The Holy Spirit calls and draws us; satan threatens, demands, and drives.
• The Lord’s voice lines up with Scripture; the enemy speaks lies.
• The Lord’s voice will bring a fresh “now” word that will change you and touch you; satan will lock you in the past.
• The Lord’s voice is rooted in hope; satan brings negativity or despair that leaves you feeling hopeless.
• God’s voice inspires us to love; satan inspires us to criticize others.
• Peace comes from God; satan brings anxiety.
• The voice of the Spirit will always glorify Jesus; satan glorifies self.
The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”