I’ve asked this question so many times over the years. What is faith? The Bible tells us that without it, it’s impossible to please God and whatever is not done by it is sin. That seems pretty serious and so it’s something I really want to learn about and understand better.
I remember years ago while in one of my early morning prayer vigils, in the middle of the night, I felt God speak to me about this idea that it’s okay to practice faith and the things of heaven. We practice music, sports, weddings, etc… But often we don’t practice faith. We somehow expect that we should just walk in the things of the spirit, yet we haven’t taken the time to really think about and understand the spirit and test what we believe we’re seeing and hearing from God.
Our whole life models this idea. We’re born as infants, who need to first be inspired to walk, to talk, to eat solid food, etc… Then we spend weeks, months and years actually working on those skills. We don’t just go from not talking to talking. We practice. We hear. We imitate. We grow in our skill and eventually that skill becomes a part of who we are. We get to the point where we no longer need to even think about it. We just be and do. We just are. And this process is the way in which we discover and grow into our understanding of how to interact with the world around us.
So that’s what I’ve been doing since having that discussion with God, is testing the waters, practicing. I spend much time sitting before the Lord, thinking and meditating around the ideas presented in scripture and around the specific thoughts or words I feel like God has been speaking into my heart and spirit. My goal is to practice and test, so I can get better at it. I’m growing into my discovery and understanding of the spiritual world around me.
I’m a hobbyist film maker. One of the biggest mistakes independent film makers make, is not make films. That’s for lots of different reasons. We think we need a better camera or a different lens. Or we need better actors or locations. When really what we need, is to just get down and make films. I have recognized this temptation and mind set in me and out of that, I’ve had to make choices to just do it, with whatever gear, story or location I have. And it’s amazing to me, that every time I make a new film, even those that I don’t think turned out too well, I end up having learned so much.
I recently was working on a narrative film for a pastor friend and his church, and though it’s not a perfect production, I found myself able to think faster about lens choices, camera settings, etc… If I hadn’t been pushing myself to make short films prior to this time, I would never have been able to adapt and grow in my speed of thinking on this production. For me, its a living testimony to the importance of practice. As Christians, we must now apply this principle when it comes to the things of heaven and living by the spirit through faith.
This is the most important aspect of life, to be in relationship and active involvement with our God and his kingdom. We must practice, so we get better at kingdom things. It will help us think faster and think more quality thoughts, because we’ve practiced learning and responding to his voice. We’ve tested the waters. We’ve started to get more familiar with the sights, sounds and sensations of our involvement with that kingdom.
Romans 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (New King James Version)
In contemplating faith, it’s very important to understand that it comes from and is rooted in hearing the word of God. His voice is his word.
In John 10:27, Jesus says this, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (King James Version)”
One of the first things we need to settle in our hearts is this, “We hear His voice”.
To me, the testimony of scripture makes it very clear, from cover to cover, God speaks to His people. His word is laying a foundation of faith within us. Jesus says we hear it. And if we can hear it, there must be a way in which to judge it and know for certain it’s him talking. So we can then follow him and do that which we’ve heard.
The thing we may be wrestling with more is not so much about whether or not we can hear his voice, but rather, how to better discern it from the clutter of other voices. But let’s start with the correct foundation. If we are In Christ, meaning we have repented of our sins and have put our faith in Jesus, acknowledging that He is the Son of God who died for us and was raised from the dead by the Father, if you truly believe this and make this your confession, you are born again. And by virtue of that rebirth, you hear his voice. You just do. It’s done. It’s settled. Child of God, hearer of God’s voice.
So how then do we learn to extract it from all the other voices? I believe it takes time and practice and some stepping out, in faith. I’ve learned over a process of years, having put myself in positions where I needed to hear him, I started to recognize patterns of his voice in my life. And through trial and error, the Bible, council and instruction from Godly leaders and friends and often on a hunch that seemed to be God, I stepped out and tested those waters. There were outcomes whereby I could then judge the fruits of my responses.
I want to quickly lay out the case which I think shows me that Jesus practiced Kingdom works privately before he did so publicly. I believe the Holy Spirit has helped me extract this idea out of the story of Jesus at the Wedding Feast in Cana. And it strengthened me in my private life of practicing these things in my home.
The party must have been big! The wine was gone and Mary comes to Jesus and tells him to do something about it. At this point, Jesus has not performed any public miracles, yet. This is about to be his first. So there isn’t anything she can point to that should make her think Jesus could do something about this. Right? I mean, what mother would be so assuming as to tell her son he should take care of this family’s drink situation. Let’s put it into context. She was asking Jesus to do a creative miracle, not go down to the local liquor store and buy more wine.
I believe she was so confident, due to years of Jesus (practicing), working private wonders in her home, that it was just a natural assumption to ask her son to do something here. You can read the entire account in the book of John 2: 1-12. But this idea of her watching Jesus through the years do private miracles, instructs me that I can practice these things too.
I want to share a few stories about how practicing faith in privacy in my home and hearing God’s voice, has played out in my life over the years. This is just a small snippet of many stories I could tell. When I began to make it a practice of my life, to get better at the kingdom of God and grow in faith, it lead to seeing some pretty cool things.
Which reminds me. We’re getting closer to that goldfish story!!!
Occasionally, I get restless at night and don’t want to disturb my wife’s sleep, so I’ll take my pillow and go downstairs to our family room and lay on the couch. One morning, I was awakened by the sound of a wood pecker, pecking away at the side of the house. I lay there for a few minutes, to see if it would stop, but it kept on going.
I got off the couch in frustration and was walking to the back wall to pound on it and hopefully scare the bird away. As I got up to do this, I clearly heard in my spirit, “Just speak to it”. I spoke barely in a whisper. I pointed at the wall and literally breathed out the command, “Leave, In the name of Jesus.” Instantly, it stopped.
I lay back down and listened. It never happened again. I couldn’t see to confirm it left, but I assumed so based on the lack of incessant pecking which had been going on for several minutes before this happened. Sure it could be coincidence, but it got my attention refocused around this idea of seeing, hearing and doing what I see and hear from the Father. And for the record, I don’t believe it was just coincidence.
On another occasion, I was walking through the house and passed by my youngest boy, at the time he was probably about 10 or 11 years old. He had one of those sore throats that caused excruciating pain every time he swallowed. As I went by him, I don’t even know completely what I thought, I just in that moment, had a revelation and knew I needed to deal with the issue. I put my hand around his throat, gently be assured! I rebuked the pain and commanded it to leave.
I let go of his neck and backed away, watching him. I could see him take some swallows. Suddenly, his eyes opened wide and he literally screamed at me, “HOW’D YOU DO THAT!” The pain was completely gone and didn’t come back.
I could go on and on with similar stories, done both publicly and privately, where I heard God’s voice and acted on it, thus producing fruit I could judge. People reacting out of the surprise of a healing received, or burst into tears because of the word I just gave them, which they desperately needed. Some were people I knew and others complete strangers. Many I had no way to know at all what was going on in their lives. But I called out something relevant for them, because I heard it in my spirit from the Holy Spirit.
And with that, here it comes! Drum roll please!
This next story is a bit crazy I know, but just another example of a time where I heard God speak to me and I acted on it. I should preface here too and have already somewhat stated it, I have had several public experiences in “ministry” praying for people where I saw God move. But I also have so many stories of things that happen privately in our home, that leave me amazed and understanding that God cares for the little things as well as the big. And I think He often does things if we let him, just to show us the possibilities that we wouldn’t normally consider. But, as I stated earlier, I felt God told me I could practice being like Jesus, (who also practiced) and so I was, in our home, working out my exploration of this marvelous kingdom.
This really happened by the way, though no one was home except me and so I’m the only one who saw it. You’ll have to take my word for it.
We had a couple gold fish, won at the school carnival by my amazing skills to throw a ping pong ball into a cup of water from 4-6 feet away! It’s a gift! I know! Well, maybe my kids won them. I don’t really remember who or how, only that we did. Let’s just say we’re a gifted family!
They lived in a fish bowl on the counter in our kitchen and after several months, one of them died, leaving just one. This one, Brock, or Brocky as my kids called it, kept on living. It was becoming a chore to keep after it, cleaning the bowl and water. Because this fish lived longer than any other fish we had, these cleanings happened a lot.
One afternoon, I came home. The family was gone and as I entered the kitchen, I noticed Brocky was dead. He was in that curled shape, as those who have owned goldfish can attest to when they die, floating at the top of the water.
“Finally, we’re free!” Well, not so fast. I felt the Lord challenging me to pray over Brocky and raise him from the dead.
I mean, how do you know in that moment this is God speaking? Sometimes his voice is clearer than at other times and sometimes you’re really not sure. I felt the request wasn’t unreasonable. It did sound crazy, praying over a dead goldfish, but definitely not something I would put past God to do or challenge me in. So I put my hand on the fish bowl (not on Brocky), and I prayed for his life to return.
I looked at him. Poor guy. He was curled and floating. No harm done. I tried. From there I went about other business. Every time passing the bowl, I’d look and see him, still curled and floating, eyes with that glazed over look of death.
It had been awhile of back and forth over the next, maybe couple of hours, through the house, glancing at the bowl, calling him to life and moving on. Then it happened. I passed through the kitchen and looked. Brocky was no longer floating. He was swimming like crazy, zipping around in a blur, all over his bowl.
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME? GOD HAD ME RAISE A GOLDFISH FROM THE DEAD?”.
It was absolutely so cool! Who cares about having to clean the bowl again. This was way worth it. Brocky lived a long while more before he finally floated again. Upon which, we had a proper, toilet bowl burial for him.
I know at least some of you may not believe me at this point, but I was there. I saw what happened and I lived it. And if Brocky were here, he’d tell you the same! The point is, God speaks and we can hear his voice. And when we hear it, there’s potential to see great things if we act upon it.
One other story, again pertaining to my youngest son. It was during a women’s world cup game in 2015 and I was watching the match as I worked on some film editing on my laptop. My son was laying on the couch in agony with a migraine headache. He had a pillow over his eyes to block out light and I could hear him moaning. I felt really bad for him.
I decided I would take the occasion to pray over him. I walked over and sat on the floor next to the couch. I laid my hand on his shoulder and under my breath, began to rebuke the migraine. I did this for a couple minutes and nothing was happening.
The time when I prayed over his sore throat, I was rebuking and commanding the pain and sickness to leave and it left immediately. I was doing it here too, in the same way, but without the results. The thought came to mind that I really needed to hear God’s fresh perspective in THIS situation. I asked the Holy Spirit how I should pray. I asked to be shown whatever it was I was failing to see so I could align my thoughts and prayers in accordance with his thoughts.
For me, its not about IF God wants to heal. I’m convinced, Jesus’ body was shredded for our sicknesses and infirmities. God has provided for our healing through Christ. This was really about getting a fresh word from the Lord, which is the foundation for faith, since faith comes from hearing his word. And faith is what we’re instructed to walk by.
About fifteen minutes into this asking and waiting, I clearly heard a word in my spirit, “May the Lamb who was slain, receive the just reward for his suffering”. It was like the lights went on inside me. My son’s healing was Jesus’ reward. Based on that word, I began to present my boy to Jesus and declare my son’s healing as a reward I was bringing to the Lord.
After a few minutes of praying this way, I got up from the floor and continued my work on my laptop. Another fifteen minutes passed with nothing happening. I was trying not to doubt. I felt I heard from God, but the temptation was to just give up and say it didn’t work. I tried not to think about it, focusing instead on what I was doing with my film editing.
A few more minutes went by when all of a sudden, without warning, my son threw the pillow off his face, sat up and was looking around.
“Whoa”! He didn’t scream out but it was very clear he was startled.
I was watching him sit there looking around the room.
“What just happened?” he asked.
I could tell he was confused. In an instant, he experienced a tangible manifestation in which the migraine all of a sudden lifted and was gone. I remember there was still some residual affect and he needed to rest, but he was released from the intense and unbearable pain.
Maybe I should have prayed through it more to see even the lingering after affect symptoms completely removed, but at that point, I was so happy and thankful to God just to see the breakthrough happen that quickly. I sat there playing the event over in my mind and in how God’s voice lead me through the entire process.
Walking in the kingdom is not about formulas or repeating past things that worked before. It’s about a vibrant and connected relationship with God and getting fresh perspective from the Father in each situation. It may be he tells you to do the same thing as before, or he may give a different strategy, but the key is, we don’t rely on the strategy. Rather, we rely on HIM, in THAT moment, as we follow the strategy he’s shown us.
I’m blown away by this scripture in John 5:19 “Then Jesus replied, I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way: (Holman Christian Standard Bible)”
This is extremely profound. We read right over it and miss the power of what Jesus is saying. Do you want to do the works of the Father? Then see what works the Father is doing and do what you see him do. This is how Jesus did it, and he’s our example.
So if you’re wondering what you should do, or how you should pray, tune in to see and hear your Father. What is he doing and saying concerning that thing you’re asking about? You are made to hear his voice.
It can sound like a revelation that jumps out of the pages of scripture or suddenly comes to mind and smacks us across the face. Other times its more subtle. It can come in the form of a dream. Sometimes it comes quickly and other times we must persevere until the breakthrough of understanding. There have been numerous times, I have been asking God over time for understanding on a matter. Then one day, going about my business and not even thinking about what I’ve been asking, all of a sudden, revelation and understanding pops into my mind about that thing. It’s quite incredible when it happens!
Pay special attention to the random thoughts that seem to come to mind, or random images. Often times, this is the Lord’s voice punching through inside. His word instructs us to look and see, so take that to heart and believe. Declare and decree and pay attention to those thoughts and images I talked about above.
Go through the book of John, like I did one night. Highlight every scripture where Jesus says he doesn’t do anything on his own accord, but only that which he sees and hears from the Father. My book of John is heavily highlighted in yellow because Jesus said it so much.
There was actually a moment where one day I started to pray for a friend about an issue he was facing and the Holy Spirit convicted me to stop praying. I was challenged to ask only for what I saw and heard from the Father, concerning his situation. I understood in that exact instance, I didn’t have God’s perspective, but was only praying out of my perception of the need at the moment. God stopped me and spoke to me that He had something he was doing and I needed to press into his heart and pray from there instead. It made me wonder how much we as Christians pray out of our own understanding rather than out of a revelation of the Father’s heart. I had to repent for this and instead ask God what he wanted me to declare.
I haven’t always seen every prayer I’ve prayed over myself or others, come to pass. Why do some get healed and others don’t? Why do some goldfish get raised from the dead and others don’t? I don’t know, yet. I’m working on that. But what I do know is that I have tasted and seen enough to know the Kingdom of God is at work in the earth through me, if I’ll take the time to learn how to wait, listen and see His word and then boldly step out in response to it as directed.
Our doing and our being flows out of first hearing and seeing our Heavenly Father. Faith comes from hearing his word. We’re made in his image. We were built for communication with him. His sheep hear his voice. If you’re in Him, you hear his voice, which IS his word. These building blocks of faith are already yours. You have spiritual eyes and ears and senses. Let’s follow Christ in practice of using them.