Hearing from God is crucial to creating powerful, meaningful art. But what does that actually look like, and how do we really know it’s Him? We’ve got 5 tips for you today that have been personally very helpful!
1. Be willing to be surprised.
For years, I expected to hear God say words to me, mostly because it was almost always words that I had seen used in church and in school. But then God surprised me.
In the early 90s I was praying that God would speak to me, and I very clearly saw a picture in my imagination. The image was actually like a cartoon, and I felt compelled to sketch it in my journal. Somehow, strangely, I knew that this was a picture of me, but I did not understand it.
In the image, I was sitting alone, unhappy.
The next day, I saw the image again with an additional figure, and the combined message became perfectly clear. In the completed image I saw a giant smiling figure standing behind me with arms lovingly holding me. I knew that this figure was God. This was an answer to prayer, because at the time I needed to know more about God’s actual presence in my life.
A few days later, I was meeting with Norm, a singer friend, and I mentioned that I had seen a very provocative picture. He asked me to show it to him and I quickly drew it for him. Norm took one look at the simple picture and began to weep. God had also spoken to Norm through that simple cartoon.
I realized that my heavenly Father had been patiently communicating to me, not with words, but in an artistic “language” I could understand. So if you want to “hear” more from God, a good first step is to expect surprises.
2. Welcome Jesus into your whole life.
Jesus speaks many times about “being in the Father and the Father being in Him.” Many artists separate their artwork from their church life. There are many reasons why this can happen, but, regardless, I believe that God wants His Spirit to be in everything we do, especially our artistic communication.
3. Test what you perceive.
God never contradicts Himself. That’s why we’ve been given the Bible. If I am receiving a thought or an image, I will know it is not from God if it does not match what I’ve learned about God’s character from the Bible. Of course, specific details will be different because we live in the twenty-first century—it will not say in the Bible that I should jump on a subway train to visit a sick friend, but it will say in the Bible that it is good to visit a friend in need.
4. Don’t hesitate to seek confirmation.
God is an excellent communicator, but I am not always a great listener. When I believe God is communicating something to me, but I don’t understand clearly what the message means, I need to go to a person who “hears from God” well, and ask that person if he or she could help me interpret what it means. (…)I believe that God will place people in every one of our lives: people who can help us hear well. Our job is to remember to approach these people for confirmations.
5. Simply ask, “Is that you, God?”
This probably seems very simplistic, but it works. When something comes to me, and it matches the intent of the Bible, I simply pray silently, “Is this You, Lord?” God seems to like this question, and he always answers, often immediately. If it’s yes, I have a sudden feeling of peace. If it’s no, I get a visceral sense of gut-level nausea. Why would I get a negative answer, you may ask? It’s because the thought or idea that came to me was from a source other than the Lord. Perhaps it was my own selfish nature, or even Satan whispering lies to me. This simple question has been very helpful to me over the many years that I have been hearing from God.
In 1995, there was a first-time visitor to one of our arts small groups who worked as a professional rock drummer. It occurred to me that I was supposed to talk to him before he left the meeting.After receiving confirmation from God, I stopped the visitor just as he was headed to the front door. I asked him if I could pray for him, and as I did, a woman’s name popped into my head. Although I had no idea of the significance of what this name meant, I asked him if the name meant anything to him. With a look of astonishment, he blurted out, “I lived with a woman with that name, but she died.” The man did not leave as he planned. He stayed that night and received healing for an emotional wound he had carried for years. After that, he not only became a regular attendee, but became the worship leader for the group.
It will probably come as no surprise that hearing from God is more of an art than a science. But just remember that He does want to communicate with you, and your main job is to be open for Him to do that.
How do you listen for God’s voice in your own life and career? Let us know in the comments!