In the Old Testament, prophets frequently received visions and pictures from God and saw into the spiritual realm. One of the terms used for a prophet was ‘seer’. The Hebrew word, ra’ah used by Samuel of himself means to see, look, perceive and have vision. (1 Sam 9:19, ) The noun chozeh used of many prophets in the OT means ‘a seer’ or ‘a vision.’
The gift of prophetic vision is carried through to the church today and examples appear throughout the New Testament. On the day of Pentecost, Peter quoted God’s word through the Prophet Joel:
‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.’ (Acts 2:17)
Types of Prophetic Vision.
- A vision usually occurs as a simple picture (or moving picture) coming to mind—the Holy Spirit’s fleeting imprint upon our imagination.
- The New Testament also records a ‘trance vision’. (Acts 10:9-17) During a trance vision, awareness of physical surroundings remains, but the vision also appears real to the senses.
- A third type of vision is ‘open vision’, where a person experiences the vision as a physical reality. (Acts 10:3-4)
8 Ways to Grow In Prophetic Visions and Pictures
Would you like to develop your ability to receive pictures, impressions and visions from God? Here are 8 ways you can grow in your gift of spiritual sight:
1. Desire to See What the Father is doing
“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19)
Firstly ask, ‘What is my motivation for wanting to see in the spiritual realm?’
Your motivation for prophetic vision should be that of Jesus—the desire to see what your Father is doing and to know what is on God’s heart. This is not only the highest use of prophetic vision; it is also a guard against deception.
2. Yield Your Imagination to the Holy Spirit
Pray and yield your imagination to the Holy Spirit. Consider your imagination to be a canvas that the Holy Spirit can paint upon. Habakkuk says, ‘I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me…’ (Hab 2:1)
If you are not used to this, here are some practical exercises that can help you to activate your imagination:
- Read or listen to Scripture and picture the stories in your minds eye. Imagine them as a movie—where are you in the scene?
- Picture yourself operating in in the future call and destiny of God upon your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you and show you the Father’s purposes. Hold onto these visions lightly—you can only dream according to what God has revealed to you to date. More will unfold in times to come. (See point 7 below regarding accountability)
- Picture yourself in immediate commitments or challenges that you have, operating in the anointing of the Spirit and in intimacy with God.
- Wait on God with your eyes closed during times of reflection and worship. Be expectant to see what the Holy Spirit may show you.
- When you are praying for or with others, pause in God’s Presence to see if He has anything to show you.
3. Keep a Record of What you See
‘Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.’ (Hab 2:3)
Take notes of what you see, so that you can reflect on what God is showing you and keep it for future reference. Journaling is a good way to record prophetic pictures and visions, but your method can be as simple as jotting down a few notes on your phone or any handy device.
4. Guard What You Look at
I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. (Ps 101:3a)
It is vital that you set aside your vision and imagination for the use of the Holy Spirit by guarding what you choose to watch (this includes Internet, TV and movies).
As the Apostle Paul says, ‘In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter [turning from wickedness, will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.’ (2 Tim 2:20-21)
5. Remember Symbols Require Interpretation
‘The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied. The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” (Jer 1:11-12)
Learn to distinguish between revelation that is plain, requiring no interpretation, and that which is symbolic.
In the Bible, God frequently uses symbols and metaphors in prophetic vision. These require interpretation to explain their meaning.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit does not give an immediate interpretation and invites us to go on a journey of discovery with Him as to the full meaning of a vision.
6. Prioritise Study of the Bible
Alongside your regular Bible study, take note of Scriptural symbolism. As you grow in prophetic vision, the Holy Spirit will make use of any symbols that are familiar to you, but the first base for interpretation is always Scripture.
7. Operate with Love and Wisdom
Be natural in your approach to growing in your gift of prophetic visions. Practice these tips for beginning in your prophetic ministry.
Love people in the use of your gift—practice sharing sensitively and in a positive and encouraging way. If you don’t yet have clarity on the meaning of a picture, and it may be confusing, hold back and pray further. Use wisdom in the timing and manner that you share a picture.
8. Practice 3 Levels of Accountability
There is no hierarchy of importance in the different types of prophetic vision. A simple, fleeting impression given by the Holy Spirit can be just as powerful in its effect and meaning as an open vision—and both need to be weighed up. In 2 Cor 11:14 the Apostle Paul warns, ‘Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.’
Three levels of accountability are:
- Personally weighing up the prophecy or vision against Scripture, along with other filters
- A means of accountability in your prophetic gift. As well accountability to your own oversight, this includes accountability unique to certain situations (for example to parents if ministering to a young child, or to the leadership of a church where you have been invited to minister)
- Accountability for personal guidance and important life decisions. This includes pastoral oversight who know you well and have the big picture of your life and family in mind.
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Growing in the Prophetic
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