One day a man named Jaker asked if I would pray for him—he suffered from a congestive illness that had plagued him for years. Before answering his question, I asked about his name. He said his parents planned to name him Joker, but they wrote an “a” instead of an “o.” I considered asking why they wanted to name him Joker, but figured the answer would open too many doors to walk through in a phone call. Instead, I asked if I should call him Jake or Jaker. He said he didn’t care, so I went with Jaker. I think it’s a cool name which I’ve never heard before.
“I’d be honored to pray for you, but you’ll need to set aside two hours.”
“Okay,” he said.
The night before our meeting, I asked the Lord to show me something that would help Jaker. And then I listened. After a short while I saw an image of a child’s cowboy boots and a boy covered with dirt.
Unsure if the image had come from God, I considered whether there was anything about it that would violate a biblical command or principle. Based on my experience, that’s the first test in determining whether a thought, word or image is from God. The Lord certainly isn’t going to communicate something that doesn’t align with the Bible.
Of course, nothing about a pair of boots or a dirty boy seemed inconsistent with Scripture.
In addition, it’s also important to seek confirmation from others when discerning whether God has spoken. I don’t consider myself a biblical prophet and I’m guarded when people speak as though they are. That’s why I never use the words, “The Lord told me . . . .” Yet there have been many instances when I sensed a word or image while praying for someone which, when shared, resulted in not only a profound spiritual experience, but emotional and even physical healing. However, there have also been instances where the word or image carried no meaning at all. That’s why confirmation is necessary. And that’s what I planned to do the following day.
The next morning Jaker rang my door bell. I opened the door and met a 5’8” middle-aged man with a slim build, blond hair, and a warm smile. I led Jaker to my office and we sat in two leather chairs opposite to one another. After he briefly recounted his history, I said, “Jaker, I prayed for you last night and saw two things. I have no idea if they are from the Lord, but you may.” I then told him about the boots and dirty boy.
Astonishment lit Jaker’s face. “When I was a little boy I always wore a pair of cowboy boots. I mean, I wore them everywhere. One night while camping I left them by the fire and they burned up. I haven’t worn boots since.”
He then told me that a couple years later, he and some friends dug a tunnel into a massive sand pile in a lot behind his house. He was playing inside the tunnel when it collapsed. If his friends hadn’t dug him out, he would have suffocated.
So the boots and dirty boy reminded him of two childhood traumas.
Because of these images, our discussion leaped forward and we were able to surface some deep wounds. As we prayed toward the end of the meeting, Jaker sensed God’s healing power in his life.
After Jaker left my house, I asked myself the only natural question: had God spoken to me?
I suppose you could chalk up the boots and boy to coincidence. After all, if I said the same thing to enough men, some of them would likely have a boot story. And who hasn’t gotten dirty? On the other hand, those two images reminded him of two episodic childhood events.
So did God speak to me? I can tell you this: Jaker thinks so. But what do you think?
This is Part Four in a continuing series on Hearing God’s Voice. Read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.
I think God spoke to you as He did to many in the Bible, and wants to speak to men and women today He can trust.
thank you very much for your insights into God’s continued dialogue, it is helpful. I am continually questioning if the impressions I get are from God , my own ego or more importantly the Devil. I fear there are times when I do not act on a feeling because i am too discerning and I may miss opportunities to serve the Lord.
I would like to continue receiving these blog series….thank you
Thanks for your “lessons on Listening” as I call them. I have had a personal relationship with the Lord for many years and I am trying to learn to clear my mind of all clutter and open my spirit to His Spirit and voice. I know that He does speak and I want to hear but its hard to clear my mind and stop the tape from running. Your writing helps me to listen with new ears.
Bill… Thank you for sharing your experiences of hearing God speak to you. It has encouraged me to ask God to speak and to listen. Today I was ministering to a man who is currently going through some tough times. I was talking to him on the phone and I was praying for him. During the prayer, I decided to ask God to reveal something to me that would help bring healing and shortly after I heard the word “sailboat” in my mind 2 or 3 times. Afraid to look like a fool, I decided not to mention the word to him. About 5 minutes further into the conversation he began talking about sailing with his wife. At that point I knew for a fact the word “sailboat” had come from God. Come to find out the man owns a sailboat and was working on it as I was speaking to him. I told him that I had asked God to show me something that would help him and the word “sailboat” popped into my head but I neglected to share it with him out of fear. I told him that I don’t know what it has to do with his current situation but that’s what God spoke to me. We then prayed about it. Nothing major came of it at the moment, but I can only hope that God reveals a deeper meaning to him. This was my first experience of this kind and I definitely learned that when God speaks in this way, the word, vision, picture, etc. He shows me doesn’t need to make sense to me and that I need not withhold sharing it from the person I am ministering to even if it makes no sense to me! I hope to hear more from The Lord in this manner in the future. Thanks again for your wisdom on this subject, and sharing!
Rich, I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. When I receive a word like that I ask the person, “Does the word ‘sailboat’ mean anything to you?” I let them respond and then follow the conversation from there. It sometimes opens people up or directs the conversation in a way that leads to healing. Keep listening.
November 1985 I was talking on the phone with my sister and I heard “go preach” I accepted my call to preach and I have been persecuted, made fun of, called crazy and some other names, even told the only way to serve God at that time was to pastor. I am a female and though I am reminded God does not speak to us except thru the Bible, not an audible voice, I did pastor churches from 1986 until 2018.
Why would Satan call me to preach? Or did God really call me to preach, my answer to those questions, “When the Lord returns He will judge me”.
hi bill i beleive that god is telling me i am going to my grandmas soon and i want your opion on that
hi bill how do you tell if god is speaking to you or nothi bill how can i tell if a word is from the lord.