Can God talk to me in mental images?

How do we hear the voice of God? Or perhaps better put, how does God communicate with us in an immediate and personal way? God is capable of communicating to us through all of our senses, but most of the time He communicates to us through our minds and our emotions. He places thoughts and images in our minds, which do not originate with us, likewise, with our emotions.

Ironically, we have heard people say that God cannot plant a thought in someone’s mind. We say ironically because these are the same people that tell us that Satan tempts them regularly. What is temptation, but a thought that arises in our mind, which comes from the enemy? God has promised us the “mind of Christ” through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Surely God is capable of dropping His thoughts into our minds. So how do they come?

In Mark’s words: “When I first experienced the gift of prophecy it was mostly through mental images. By mental images I am referring to images seen through your mind’s eye when your eyes are closed. We all know what it is to have someone tell us to “picture” something. This is what I am talking about except that the mental image is placed within our mind by the Holy Spirit. It is important to note that when we are waiting to hear from God with our eyes closed we do not try to “conjure up” an image. We do not need to prime the pump. In fact, trying hard to see something will usually impede the process. If God is going to place an image in our mind, He does not need our help to do so. Quiet trust is the best posture whenever we listen to God. Here are a few of my favorite examples.

I was teaching on hearing the “voice” of God. The subject for the evening was “mental images.” After teaching on how they come, we went into a time of waiting on God to give mental images to us. Everyone was reminded that risk is essential to growth and so everyone should share whatever they “saw” even if it made no sense to them. The goal was to receive guidance from the Holy Spirit as to how to pray for one another. Then we waited…
After a few minutes, someone shared an unusual image. It was of a very nice large desk with a huge leather bag tied with a chord around the top and having the $ sign on the side of the bag. The way he described it was like the money bags you see in cartoon shows. The bag was just sitting on the desk. I asked the group if this image meant anything to anyone in the room. A man at the back of the room, who was a world class effluence engineer with a very large engineering firm, spoke out. He said that on Tuesday his firm was going to a meeting with their bank to ask to borrow a very large sum of money. He said that if they did not get it, many of their engineers would be out of work. I asked the person who got the money bag image to link up in prayer with the engineer and off they went to pray.
The next person to share was a woman named Lucy. With some measure of embarrassment, she said she saw a cat sitting. I asked if this image meant anything to anyone in the room and no surprise, no one claimed it. A minute later a woman named Joy, who was sitting two rows behind Lucy said, with great reluctance, that she saw a large bear standing upright on its hind legs. She said she wasn’t going to share it, but since Lucy mentioned the cat, she would risk mentioning the bear. Again, no one claimed it.
The evening went on with more images being claimed by more people until only a few remained seated in their chairs [the rest had gone off to other parts of the room to pray]. Remaining seated were; the cat lady, the bear lady and between them a new lady I had never seen before. I asked her if she had come to our meeting wanting prayer and she said yes.
I asked the cat and the bear ladies if they would pray with our visitor. They said yes and off they went. About 40 minutes later Joy came back and said, “You will never guess what happened, it was amazing!” She said, “The lady we prayed for is Russian and her last name in Russian is “bear” and the nickname her parents gave her is “Cat!””
Imagine being this lady who hears about a church that prays powerful prayers for people. You come to the meeting not knowing whether or not God knows your name. You come hoping to encounter God. You are surrounded by strangers. God gives your name to two total strangers who end up praying powerful prayers for you! Do you suppose she was encouraged? Do you think she will ever forget that night?”

This story illustrates a very important point having to do with mental images and prophetic words in general. Often the message that comes to us may seem nonsensical or even irrational; after all, seeing a bear or a cat is not much of a message from God.

The temptation with such a cryptic word is either not to give it or to try to add some sort of meaning or interpretation to it, e.g. “God says you are like a little kitten resting in His lap” or “With God’s help you are as strong as a bear!”

We have great admiration for both Joy and Lucy because they risked looking foolish by simply giving exactly what they saw without attempting to interpret it.

3 thoughts on “Can God talk to me in mental images?

  1. I am thankful for the creative ways the Lord speaks to us! Thankful for Mark and Bob’s clear and empowering teaching on this too.

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  2. I was looking for something about seeing involuntary images. I’m learning to hear from Holy spirit. I’ve started to see again in my imagination after a period of not. I was thinking on some scriptures this morning whilst lying in bed. I had two scenarios come to me. I wasn’t dreaming. What would you advise when this happens and you’re not in a meeting like you were writing about?

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    1. Mark Cowper-Smith’s response:

      Mental images are a form of thought. Like any thought they can have three possible sources; 1] my own mind or subconscious, 2] God, 3] a demonic plant.

      A common demonic plant is temptation.

      Temptation comes through mental images frequently.

      All mental images should be judged through the lens of the Bible. Mental images often involve some sort of action or response on our part which can be judged against scripture, e.g. you see a mental image of yourself stealing something from your workplace. Judged against the word of God, we know that stealing is wrong so you can rule out God as the source of that image. If you reject that image as ungodly and decide not to act on it, then the source is either your own unconscious mind or it is demonic. In either case, you know it is not from God and you know it is wrong so you can choose to reject it.

      It is possible that the image could have come from your own unconscious mind. To determine if that is the case the best way to do that is to search your mind and hear to see if you have any anger against your boss which might be the reason for you to be imagining stealing from your employer. At this point, you can ask God to show you if you have any hidden motive for stealing from your boss.

      Once you have determined what you think the source of the image is, and have decided that it is probably God, the best thing to do is to take the image to prayer and ask God what it means. I usually say, “Father, what are you trying to tell me? What does this image mean?” He will often place a thought in your mind that answers that question. From your question, I think you may have read our book “Reluctantly Supernatural in an Age of Reason”. It deals with mental images. It also deals with how to judge a prophetic word. The same principles that govern judging a prophetic work apply to judging or discerning a mental image or dream. If all of these suggestions have not resulted in some sort of message from God then you can dismiss the image or take it to a wise counselor who knows you and who you trust and see if they have an interpretation of it. If they do then you can take that interpretation to God for confirmation.

      I hope this is helpful to you. Thank you so much for asking!! God Bless You!!

      Mark

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