Does God really use mental images?
Mental images may come as still images or as “movies” [a scene being enacted in our mind’s eye]. The scene may be purely imaginary or it may be something that we have actually seen [a memory]. Here is one example of the “movie” variety.
In Mark’s words:
“I was scheduled to do a conference in a city a few hours north of ours. I was brushing my teeth in the morning and talking to God about the conference to start that night. I said, “I don’t want to just teach like I usually do, I want to do something different and more “Holy Spirit.”” Immediately this thought came to me:
Take a paper and pen and find a place to sit during the worship where you can look at the people. Scan the group and I will give you words for certain people. When you get up to speak, start by giving the words I have given you.
I have to admit I was excited and intimidated at the same time. That night I sat at the front, to the side, where I could watch the people. Sure, enough my gaze would pause at certain people and a thought about them would come with a message. That night I gave several which were accurate.
The next morning, I did the same thing. As I was scanning the people my gaze stopped on a young girl of about 9 or 10 years old. As I was looking at her I saw a film clip in my mind of a black and white movie taken at a Katherine Kuhlman conference. It was a short clip of her in one of her diaphanous gowns seemingly floating across the stage calling out healings in the audience. I knew it was a real film clip that I had seen sometime in the past. I said,
God, why are You showing me this?” The thought came very clearly, “I am giving this girl the same gift that I gave to Katherine Kuhlman. She will hear my voice clearly even from her youth and she will have the gift of physical healing.
I told the Lord, “There is no way I am telling her parents that she is the next Katherine Kuhlman! That is irresponsible and dangerous!” I decided to de-emphasize the word as much as integrity would allow.
When I got up to speak I pointed to the young girl and said, “I have a word for you.” She ran up to the stage, jumped up, ran over to me, put her arms around me, and clung to me. I was completely taken by surprise by her enthusiastic response. I told her, while addressing her parents, that she is gifted in hearing God’s voice very easily. Also, that she has the gift of physical healing which will show itself more and more as she grows older. I told them not to treat her as special or different, but just to trust God that in His time He will bring her gifts to their full potential. To be honest, I didn’t want to give the word at all. It seemed very irresponsible, but I decided to obey God and take the risk.
After the morning session ended a man came up to me and said, “That girl who came up to you is my daughter and there is something that you should know. When we were driving here this morning she was in the back seat with her brother and she told him,
That guy who spoke last night is going to give me a message from God this morning.
He continued saying, “I don’t understand any of this. We don’t go to church. We only came here because our neighbor invited us. What am I supposed to do?” I told him to start attending this church and ask as many questions as he needs to in order to come to know God for himself and for his family. Later that afternoon, I saw him receiving prayer from our team as he was being overcome by the Holy Spirit. Oh well, just another changed life.
This story illustrates the truth of the importance of the timing of a prophetic word. The word that Mark was going to give to this young girl and her [then] non-Christian family was beyond their understanding. The only thing that gave the word credibility was the fact that on the way to the meeting she heard God tell her Mark was going to give her a message from Him that morning. The timing of what she heard and what Mark then said was just too co-incidental to easily dismiss.
The application of prophetic mental images may have nothing to do with the presenting problem we think we are supposed to pray for.