1. Does God still speak to people today? 

God spoke to Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, David, Solomon, all of the prophets, John the Baptist, Mary, Joseph, Peter, John, Paul, and Barnabas — to name a few. The pattern we see is God calling an individual to a special task or comforting a person by speaking in personal and supernatural ways aside from the reading or studying the Scriptures.  It is also worth noting that these special revelations are never intended to replace the reading, studying, and memorization of God’s Word. Instead, they supplement and enrich it. God’s personal communication to us will never contradict the truth, principles and character of His written word. His speaking personalizes His truth to us.

Can a non-Christian come to know Jesus unless He somehow speaks or communicates to the individual in a personal way? The answer to this is obvious. The lost cannot comprehend the Truth of the Gospel. The Truth must be personally revealed to them by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). Many Muslims who come to Christ in the Middle East respond to Jesus as a result of Him appearing and speaking to them in dreams.

How do Christians discern whether they are called to the mission field, in what capacity, in what country, and with what mission agency? How does a believer discern how to invest the money he sets aside to invest in God’s work, who to marry, what God’s will is for important decisions, etc? We pray about it and God somehow communicates to us and often very specifically.

One of the primary reasons Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to reside in us was and is so that He could continually communicate with us even after He had died, risen, and ascended into heaven (John 16:13).  Although the Bible is the complete revelation of God, He knew we needed His personal presence and counsel to live effectively in our complex and broken world.

It is not our superior cognitive skills that enable us to grasp the “unfathomable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8), to discern the “secrets of our hearts” (Psalm 44:21 and 1 Corinthians 14:25), or even to “to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19). These are areas of life that God Himself must supernaturally reveal and communicate to us by His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:3, 5).

2. Isn’t healing prayer the latest evangelical fad and actually an offshoot of the New Age movement?

Inner healing is as old as the Holy Scriptures. Six hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah foretold that an important aspect of the Messiah’s ministry would be the healing of the brokenhearted, setting captives free, and bring beauty out of the ashes of the failed dreams we’ve all experienced (Isaiah 61:1-3).

“The resurrection of Jesus opened a whole new dimension of incarnational reality, as the Holy Spirit would now indwell all believers and speak to them (see John 16:12-14). The indwelling Spirit also gives us access to the mind of Christ so, as we walk in the Spirit, Jesus can think His thoughts deep within us (see 1 Corinthians 2:16).

Proverbs 4:23 advises, “Watch over your heart with all diligence” because the character, abundance, and quality of our lives flow out of the heart. This passage encourages us to take deliberate action to protect, keep, preserve, and guard the heart from danger. Inner healing is a process in which someone seeks to do exactly this.

Childhood hurts and abuses wound the heart deeply. In Matthew 18:5-6, Jesus gave a stern warning to those who hurt, mistreat, and cause little children to sin. He knows how vulnerable we are in that season of life. He also understands that childhood hurts shape our concept of God, truth, relationships, and sexuality, often twisting how we perceive the most important issues of life.

Hebrews 12:15 cautions us to look carefully and diligently to assure that no root of bitterness springs up to defile us. Bitterness is to the soul as cancer is to the body: deadly. Like cancer, it also has a root — we aren’t born with a bitter heart. In the midst of hurtful events, we come to believe a lie or lies that open us to bitterness. Since these lies distort the truth and hinder us from surrendering our whole hearts to God, they are sin. They rob us of the abundant life Jesus came to give us (see John 10:10).

In a reflection and prayer written thousands of years ago, we see King David practicing the very essence of inner-healing prayer when he prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24). He asked God to search, try, know, discern, perceive, and distinguish what was going on deep inside him. In particular, he wanted God to examine his anxious and disquieting thoughts. David also asked God to search for any hurtful ways of sorrow and pain. He wanted God to enable him to live in accordance with the everlasting way. Instead of letting the world around him squeeze him into its mold (see Romans 12:1-2), he yearned to live, think, and act in consistency with the truth of God. Aware of the dangers of being twisted by the dysfunctional, fleeting, and temporal, he chose to let the unseen Eternal direct his heart, mind, and affections (see 2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

God has had this restoration on His heart since before the creation of the world, and He made it abundantly available to us through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul expressed God’s desire that every believer would experience the richness of Christ’s love in Ephesians 3:17-19: “And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God” (MSG).”

Above quote: Rusty Rustenbach, A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2011), 207–208.

Download the free Leaders Guide for “A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer” from the NavPress website. It contains an extensive Bible Study that thoroughly establishes the Biblical basis of listening and inner-healing prayer.

3. Why do so many of the prayers in “A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer” include warfare elements such as commanding demonic spirits to leave and praying for protection of family members against the retaliation of the enemy?

Ephesians 6:12-18 makes it clear that our real battle in this life is “against the spiritual forces of evil” (ESV). Satan is our archenemy whose stated aim is to “devour” us (1 Peter 5:8).  He is “the thief” who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10).

Unlike the Holy Spirit, Satan is not omnipresent. He can only be in one place at a time. Most scholars believe that one third of the angels followed Lucifer when he fell from heaven (Revelation 12:4). These fallen angels converted into demons (Matthew 5:41). So when Satan attacks a believer it is rare that he is actually present. His attacks are usually through the demonic spirits that are under his command (Acts 16:18).

The Devil and his angels are vigilant enemies who are constantly looking for point of entry into the lives of believers and unbelievers alike (Ephesians 4:27).  For believers, we are not talking about being demon possessed. A person in whom the Holy Spirit dwells can never be under the complete dominion of the devil. He can, however, be influenced by the enemy or demonized. For this reason, the Scriptures give Christians urgent warnings to not give the devil a foothold, to be sober and vigilant (1 Peter 5:8), to resist him (James 4:7), and to not be ignorant of his schemes (see 2 Corinthians 2:11).

Spiritual warfare that is focused exclusively on dealing with the demonic can be short sighted. When a believer is being seriously harassed or afflicted by the enemy it is because somewhere is the past the enemy gained access to the person. The access can take place by such things as fooling around with the occult (Deuteronomy 18:10), rebelling against God (1 Samuel 15:23), lying (Acts 5:3), believing lies (John 8:44), making unbiblical vows (Matthew 7:2), anger (Ephesians 4:26-27), and involvement in habitual sin.

In warfare prayer it is essential to deal with the root reason the enemy gained access to an individual. Otherwise, the enemy will momentarily leave, but still has the right to return at a later time (Matthew 12:43-45).

This is why most of the prayers in “A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer” include exercising the authority of Christ over demonic spirits that may have gained access to us after we have dealt with the root reason the enemy gained a foothold.

4. How can I be sure when I listen God is really communicating to me and that I’m not just making it all up?

Some of us are plagued by the possibility that when we listen we might just be making it all up. Brad Jersak, author, teacher, and pastor, helped me with this. According to Jersak, those of us who constantly wonder, “Am I just making this up?” are asking the wrong question.

"In the New Testament, the battle is primarily between God and Satan on one level and between the flesh and the Spirit on another. Therefore, we ought to be asking ourselves two biblical questions.

Was what came to me during my time of listening consistent with God and His character, or was it in line with Satan and his objectives? We know that Satan is the father of lies (see John 8:44), the accuser (see Revelation 12:10), and the deceiver (see 2 John 7). When the thoughts that run through a believer’s mind in a time of listening tend toward constant accusation, criticism, shaming, and highlighting negative characteristics, they’re consistent with the destructive strategy of the enemy. Although the Holy Spirit will sometimes bring conviction of sin, this is not His primary role in the life of a believer. His chief ministry to believers is to comfort, affirm, edify, remind us that we belong to Jesus, remind us of what Jesus said, and help us experientially know God as He truly is.

Was what I heard characteristic of the Holy Spirit and of His fruit, or was it consistent with the works of the flesh? “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). In contrast, “the deeds of the flesh are . . . immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing” (Galatians 5:19-21). After a time of listening to God, you can compare what came to you with these two lists.”

Above thoughts from: Brad Jersak, Can You Hear Me? (Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch Books, 2006), 100, and Rusty Rustenbach, A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2011), 61-62.

5. I am a highly analytical person and tend to live primarily in my head. How can I get more in touch with and learn to live more fully from my heart?

If you struggle with being somewhat disconnected from your heart, I urge you to read, study, and camp in Chapter Three, The Wellspring of Spiritual Life from “A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer.” This chapter and Appendix C Emotional Words to Describe How I Am Feeling were written especially for you!

The head-heart split is a common problem in our generation. Most of us have gone through so many disappointing experiences that we’ve unwittingly retreated into living in our heads. If I hope for things that never seem to happen, the pain can be so intense that living from our hearts can seem unbearable. However, the New Testament is focused on being in touch with and learning to live from our hearts. Inner-healing prayer is a ministry that can heal the hurts of the heart. But as a friend of mine is fond of saying, If you won’t feel it, God can’t heal it.

I became increasingly disconnected from my heart in my twenties, thirties and early forties. I realized a lot going on beneath the surface of my life that needed God’s touch, but I was clueless about how to change this dynamic.

Out of desperation, I began to pray and ask God to reconnect my head and my heart. And guess what, He began to transform me. It was an overnight process, but day-by-day, little-by-little, … like the lion in The Wizard of Oz, God gave me a heart. Here is a version of the prayer I prayed.

Sample Prayer: Connecting the Heart with the Head

[It may be helpful for you to touch your head and then place your hand over your heart as you pray this prayer.]

“Lord Jesus, You said You came to bring healing to the brokenhearted. One aspect of brokenness that I struggle with is the head/heart separation. Jesus, I see in Your Word that You experienced emotions and expressed them in appropriate ways. Your capacity to live from Your heart enhanced Your ability to be intimate with the Father and to connect with needy people. Would You be pleased to do this same work within me? I ask You to come now in a special way to connect my head with my heart. I know this is an event, but it’s also a process. As I connect more deeply to my heart, would You allow me to hear more clearly from You? Would You let me experience Your love more fully, Your joy more deeply, and Your peace more profoundly? Would You also permit me to grow in compassion, sympathy,and empathy so that, like You, I would be moved with compassion toward the lost and broken people who surround me? I thank You that this is something You’re willing and eager to do for me.”

From: Rusty Rustenbach, A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2011), 48-49.

6. In dealing with the demonic, some people stress belief and truth saying the demonic has no power over us unless we allow it to. Embedded within many of the prayers in your book you instruct people to exercise the authority of Christ over the demonic and command them to leave.  Why do you acknowledge Satan in your prayers? Is it necessary? Can it open up doors that don't need to be opened?

From my point of view there is truth within both of the above positions. 1 Peter 5:8 encourages us to be sober and vigilant because our adversary the devil’s stated goal is to devour us. Ephesians 4:27 says “and do not give the enemy a foothold.” So the question becomes, how does the enemy gain a foothold in the life of a believer. It does boil down primarily to what we believe (things going on down deep inside of us) and choices we make (such as harboring anger and unforgiveness or habitual involvement in sin). To false beliefs I would add unbiblical inner vows we unconsciously make, and faulty strategies we unwittingly begin to follow.

I don’t view the prayers in my book as unduly acknowledging or glorifying the enemy. I view them more from the perspective that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Jesus – including the authority over the demonic. Jesus was often seen exercising His authority over demons. In Luke 10:17 when the seventy returned from an important ministry trip, they marveled, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.

How did they deal with the demonic? They exercised the authority of Christ over the enemy and cast him out. Look at the example from the Apostle Paul: But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And he came out that very hour Acts 16:18.

I do not believe that employing the authority of Christ in this way could make someone more vulnerable to enemy attacks or open doors to him. I believe the opposite. Since only Jesus has authority over the demonic, when I employ His authority by commanding the enemy to go and never return in His name it tightly closes the door to the devil.

My view of dealing in direct fashion with the demonic is based on two keys verse of Scripture:

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:11-12

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

If our real battle to live abundantly with Christ is because we’re in a warfare with the rulers of darkness of this age, we won't be able to emerge as more than conquerors without exercising the all-encompassing authority of Christ over the enemy. These passages emphasize that we can only pull down strongholds and bring every thought into captivity by using all the weapons He has graciously provided us with.

7. Where does the assertion that God will speak to us in our thoughts come from?

1 Corinthians 2:10-16 says; “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.”

This passage highlights how it is the Spirit of God who reveals God to us and says that HE does this by communicating in our thoughts.  The passage concludes by saying we have the mind of Christ. The mind is the place where thought takes place. Since HE indwells you and me, it’s logical that HE would think HIS thoughts within us. Since many people already think in pictures, it’s also reasonable that HE would communicate with people who think in this way in pictures.

He spoke in an audible voice to people in the Old Testament because previous to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ this was the only real alternative. The SPIRIT had not yet been given in such a way that HE could indwell each and every believer.

Look at John 16:12-14:
“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

Those in the Old Testament did not have access to the Holy Spirit unless HE came to them. As a NT believer the Holy Spirit indwells us and has the capacity to speak the truth within us at the exact moment we are ready for it. There is no need for an audible voice because we have the mind of Christ.

However, I have met a number of people who have heard God speak to them in an audible voice.

8. One of the listening prayer steps is to “Ask Jesus to communicate with you.” This is supported by I Samuel 3:10 and Exodus 3:4, in which Moses and Samuel ask God to speak to them after he has already communicated to them in an audible voice. It doesn’t seem to follow from these Scriptures that we can therefore expect that the thoughts that spring naturally to our mind are inevitably communications from God.

I agree that there is no guarantee that the thoughts that come into the mind after asking God to speak will always be God speaking to us. This is why it is essential to bind the enemy in your preparations to listen and necessary to test the things we sense God is saying to us through at least 4 means:

1.    Compare it to the character and word of God. If it is not consistent, it is not God.
2.    Run it by others listeners in the body of Christ (If others disagree, this is not a good sign – 2 Corinthians 13:1)
3.    Internal witness of the Spirit – Romans 8:16. (If the Holy Spirit does not witness to your human spirit this may also mean that the message or thought that came to you was not really God).
4.    Test all things - 1 Thessalonians 5:21. One way to “test” a word is by the fruit it bears in your life. Or does the word produce inner confusion, fear, and bear negative fruit?  

You might say that the confirmation by the Holy Spirit and from others are by nature subjective and are therefore prone to error and might lead us astray. Truth is that reading, studying, and interpreting the Bible is also often subjective and prone to error and misunderstanding. Look at the Reformation and all of the different movements that arose over different interpretations of what the Bible says about such things as baptism, salvation, and the sign gifts. Should we stop reading the Bible because of these controversies? Certainly not! In the same way, though it is possible to hear incorrectly, this shouldn’t lead us to stop listening.   

Paul talked about something similar to this is Hebrews 5. He talked about having our senses trained to discern truth and error in verse 14 saying that “by constant use” it is possible to be “trained” by God “to distinguish good from evil.”

9. What does listening prayer accomplish that God’s Word does not accomplish? When people enter the listening prayer process and they hear fragments of Scripture, why does Scripture speak more strongly in listening prayer than it should ordinarily when reading it?

The Word of God is extremely powerful whether it is read and studied in the Bible –or– whether God speaks to a person in a personal way. In theory both ways of receiving a word from God can be equally powerful.

The condition a word from God is received in can make a difference in how the it impacts us. If a person is in deep desperation due to an extremely deep personal struggle, in an extreme situation such as his life being in danger, or agonizing over a decision, ... a word that comes from God will in all likelihood impact a person more than one that is read in the midst of a peaceful uneventful day.

When God created the heavens and the earth and everything that the eyes can see, He did it by speaking it into existence. He said, “let there be ______ and it came into being.” When God speaks to man or woman who is struggling with rejection, feelings of insignificance, shame, self hatred, etc. and communicates, “You are my Beloved and My pleasure rests on you” the same principle as in creation can occur. That which did not formally exist can be called into existence and make something new (rejection can be transformed into a sense of acceptance, insignificance can be transformed into significance, shame can be transformed into well being, self-hatred can be transformed into a sense of being loved). Since it is specifically applied to a desperate point of need at a specific moment in time it can impact the person in a much greater way than memorizing 2 Corinthians 5:17 because it’s the next verse in the Topical Memory System. http://www.navpress.com/product/9781576839973/

There are two different words in Greek that are translated as the knowledge. “The two words generally translated as 'knowledge' are 'gnosis' and 'epignosis'. Whereas 'gnosis' conveys the idea of just 'knowing', 'epignosis' is a knowledge that involves a 'full discernment', which is 'to become fully acquainted with' or to have a full understanding of something” (See source). 

Also, take a look as this study when you have a chance.

Epignosis is experiential knowledge whereas gnosis is cognitive knowledge. A word spoken to us during a time of seeking God when we are desperate is usually epignosis knowledge. A passage we read in a Bible reading program will usually be gnosis knowledge.  

10. Why do truths already spoken in Scripture need to be re-spoken by another process?

They don’t “need to be re-spoken by another process” to grip us more. I have been reading and studying the Bible now for more than 40 years. On occasion a verse or passage I have read over and over and over will grip me in a new way when the Holy Spirit brings it to my remembrance. This may be in listening prayer, but it can also happen when I haven’t even prayed through the Listening Prayer Guidelines. I can’t tell you how many times God has “quickened” a word that I “already knew” and made it much more powerful and transformational to me while in the shower, driving my car, going to the bathroom, or taking a walk.

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