Q: I know Jesus sends his holy spirit to guide me with all I do but my question is: how can I make sure that it is the holy spirit’s voice I’m listening to and not just my imagination?
Thank you so much for writing to us with your most important question; I believe that it is one that many on the spiritual path think about. All of us who are striving to live a closer life with God naturally wish to really communicate with him, just as we would want to comunicate with any other personality who we love.
If you are a reader/student of The Urantia Book, you probably are aware that there are passages in the book that encourage us to listen for that “still, small voice” inside, and other passages that caution us about what we might think we hear when desiring to hear God’s voice.
Here are just a few:
101:2.12 Revelation as an epochal phenomenon is periodic; as a personal human experience it is continuous.
148:6.10 “While the speech of God spoken from the whirlwind was a majestic concept for the day of its utterance, you have already learned that the Father does not thus reveal himself, but rather that he speaks within the human heart as a still, small voice, saying, `This is the way; walk therein.’ Do you not comprehend that God dwells within you, that he has become what you are that he may make you what he is!”
133:4.10 To the traveler from Britain [Jesus] said: “My brother, I perceive you are seeking for truth, and I suggest that the spirit of the Father of all truth may chance to dwell within you. Did you ever sincerely endeavor to talk with the spirit of your own soul? Such a thing is indeed difficult and seldom yields consciousness of success; but every honest attempt of the material mind to communicate with its indwelling spirit meets with certain success, notwithstanding that the majority of all such magnificent human experiences must long remain as superconscious registrations in the souls of such God-knowing mortals.”
But, we need to be cautious, too:
110:3.1 Adjusters are playing the sacred and superb game of the ages; they are engaged in one of the supreme adventures of time in space. And how happy they are when your co-operation permits them to lend assistance in your short struggles of time as they continue to prosecute their larger tasks of eternity. But usually, when your Adjuster attempts to communicate with you, the message is lost in the material currents of the energy streams of human mind; only occasionally do you catch an echo, a faint and distant echo, of the divine voice.
When we understand hat God’s communications with us may only be registered in our superconscious, that means that we may not have a concrete idea in our mind of what’s being communicated – we aren’t going to be able to say that God told me this or that; instead, that communication will translate in a better spiritual life, a richer spiritual life, and a more loving life in regards to our relationships with others, as we are led in our spirit to make better choices about these things.
In the end, it’s impossible for me to tell when you’re really communicating with God or whether you’re just imagining something. I think that’s a problem that many people have, and I don’t think there’s any answer that would fit everyone. But as a general rule, it seems to me that, since we know that God rules his universe through the power of LOVE, any communication with him would have to be about love, first and foremost. If we are left with feelings of love after communication with God, we may have reason for optimism that what we experienced was real, and not imaginary.
You say that you are born of the spirit, and I am so glad for you. If you are anything like me, that experience is like no other, and marks your life in an unmistakable way. One of the things that being born of the spirit means is that we start to develop and show forth the fruits of the spirit more and more in our daily lives. When we desire to hear God’s voice and we wonder whether we’re really hearing God or if it’s just our imagination, another good indication is to decide whether our daily lives reflect a better grasp on these fruits of the spirit…Jesus told us:
193:2.2 “And the fruits of the divine spirit which are yielded in the lives of spirit-born and God-knowing mortals are: loving service, unselfish devotion, courageous loyalty, sincere fairness, enlightened honesty, undying hope, confiding trust, merciful ministry, unfailing goodness, forgiving tolerance, and enduring peace.”
This section: Prayer and the Alter Ego is a wonderful part of the book that has always been helpful to me when thinking about how to recognize and enjoy God’s voice:
91:3.7 Enlightened prayer must recognize not only an external and personal God but also an internal and impersonal Divinity, the indwelling Adjuster. It is altogether fitting that man, when he prays, should strive to grasp the concept of the Universal Father on Paradise; but the more effective technique for most practical purposes will be to revert to the concept of a near-by alter ego, just as the primitive mind was wont to do, and then to recognize that the idea of this alter ego has evolved from a mere fiction to the truth of God’s indwelling mortal man in the factual presence of the Adjuster so that man can talk face to face, as it were, with a real and genuine and divine alter ego that indwells him and is the very presence and essence of the living God, the Universal Father.
As a final thought: probably the best path to follow when wanting to talk to God and have a dialogue with him is through sincere prayer and worship.
100:5.7 In contrast with conversion-seeking, the better approach to the morontia zones of possible contact with the Thought Adjuster would be through living faith and sincere worship, wholehearted and unselfish prayer. Altogether too much of the uprush of the memories of the unconscious levels of the human mind has been mistaken for divine revelations and spirit leadings.
110:1.1 And indirectly and unrecognized the Adjuster is constantly communicating with the human subject, especially during those sublime experiences of the worshipful contact of mind with spirit in the superconsciousness.
91:6.4 Prayer, even as a purely human practice, a dialogue with one’s alter ego, constitutes a technique of the most efficient approach to the realization of those reserve powers of human nature which are stored and conserved in the unconscious realms of the human mind
91:6.7 The psychic and spiritual concomitants of the prayer of faith are immediate, personal, and experiential. There is no other technique whereby every man, regardless of all other mortal accomplishments, can so effectively and immediately approach the threshold of that realm wherein he can communicate with his Maker, where the creature contacts with the reality of the Creator, with the indwelling Thought Adjuster.
If you click on any of the references I have given you in this reply, they will open up a section that will help you understand even more. And here are other sections of the book that I would recommend to read again:
Again, I want to thank you for writing to us with this interesting and important question. I hope that my reply has been helpful…