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How can you be in the presence of angels as well as talk with them? I have always asked to see them but I never have. I am not asking for a formula, but is it just up to God or is this something we can pray to receive? Must we seek it first?- Wanting To See
Dear Wanting To See
There are two different types of encounters with angels. One is where they are sent to protect you or assist you in some difficulty. This is one of the angel's functions and there are a lot of verses that talk about this. For instance, Psalm 34:7 tells us, "The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them." Psalm 91:11-12 tells us: "He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone."
The only way to see that type of angel is to get in a dangerous situation that God wants to deliver you from. Even then, the angels may work invisibly and you may not get to see them. But we do have an example from the Bible in the life of Peter where he saw his delivering angel. The story is found in Acts 12. Herod threw Peter and James into prison, then he executed James. He was planning on executing Peter, but God still had things for Peter to do. Peter was asleep in prison, chained between two guards, on what Herod intended be his last night alive on this earth. Let's pick up the story from Acts 12:7:7 Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, "Arise quickly!" And his chains fell off his hands. 8 Then the angel said to him, "Gird yourself and tie on your sandals"; and so he did. And he said to him, "Put on your garment and follow me." 9 So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.
Peter was apparently used to seeing angels in visions. The passage said that he did not know if this was really happening or if it was a vision. However, Peter obeyed the angel, and shortly afterwards he discovered he was really out of prison. There are two things we should note about this passage.
The first is that Peter obeyed the angel as if he were obeying God. That is always a very good idea, because if God sends an angel to you, then the angel is speaking for God in whatever he says to you. When Moses saw the burning bush, he did not encounter God directly; he encountered an angel (Exodus 3:2). But when Moses dialogued with this angel, the bible treats it as if he was talking directly with God. When an angel speaks to you, he does no more or no less than God is doing. The angel doesn't say anything that God is not saying, and everything he says comes directly from God. So if you disobey an angel, you are disobeying God.
The second thing we should note is that this angel did not stop to explain things to Peter. He did not converse with him any more than was absolutely necessary to accomplish his task. The only things he said were simple commands that he expected Peter to obey. That is because this angel was a delivering angel is not a messenger angel. Their job is to protect us from something or help us in a specific situation. They are not messengers and they do not speak to us any more than necessary. In fact, much of the time they work behind the scenes where we can't see them and we don't know they are active on our behalf.
This was the first type of angel that I encountered on a regular basis. The Lord told me that when I went on my missions trips, I did not go alone, because He sent angels with me. Most of time I did not see the angels, but occasionally He did show them to me for a brief moment. I remember one night in South Africa I woke up in the wee hours of the morning and I was amazed that I was not experiencing more spiritual warfare counterattacks. (I had experienced a lot of spiritual warfare on my first trip.) I asked the Lord about it, and he opened my eyes to see an angel standing by my bed, holding a raised sword. Then the Lord told me that this angel was protecting me from the enemy attacks against me during this trip. I can't tell you how safe I felt once the Lord showed me that.
I knew the angels accompanied me on these trips, but I did not see them very often and I hardly ever interacted with them. They are not the type of angels that carry on conversations with us, and it is not normal to interact directly with them unless they need to give us simple commands to obey.
The type angels who you talk to are messenger angels. In fact, the Greek word that we translate as "angel" literally means messenger. Messenger angels speak God's messages to us, similar to how a prophet does. However, angels have more direct access to God and greater clarity of hearing, and they never get His message wrong. The bible tells us to judge prophecy, but we don't have to judge what an angel tells us. (We do need to discern that this is a God-angel and not a demon masquerading as an angel of light.) But once we have established that this is really an angel from God, we can (and should) take whatever they speak to us as directly from God.
The angel that Moses dialogued with in Exodus chapters 3 and 4 was a messenger angel. He spoke to Moses on God's behalf, commissioned him and gave Moses directions and instructions. The angel that Daniel spoke to in Daniel 8 and 9 was a messenger angel named Gabriel. He was sent to explain some visions to Daniel. Look at Daniel 8:15-17:15 Then it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man's voice between the banks of the Ulai, who called, and said, "Gabriel, make this man understand the vision." 17 So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, "Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end...."
Then the angel went on to explain the vision to Daniel in detail. In short, this angel was acting in a teaching (or mentoring) capacity. God still sends angels to do that today, but it is something that God decides to do, and not something that we can make happen.
I had my first directly experience with a messenger angel in Italy. I went there on what my husband thought was a family vacation, but it was really a prayer journey that God sent me on, to pray for His glory to return to the Catholic church. In fact, God opened some amazing doors for me. I even got to attend a prayer meeting in the Vatican. That night, an angel appeared to me. He emitted so much light that I could not make out his features. The bright light woke me up but my husband slept through the whole encounter. Then the angel began to speak to me, giving me instructions from God for the rest of my prayer journey.
After that, I began to see messenger angels from time to time; but it was never something I could control or make happen. God sent them when He wanted to. There was a season where I did not have a mentor who I could go to, and I would get confused about something related to the prophetic. I would cry out to God about each thing that was puzzling me. Sometimes He would answer me directly, but other times He would send angels to instruct me. Again, this was never at my control, but at times it was in response to intense prayer and seeking Him (for the answer, not for the angelic visitation).
I don't think it is wrong to desire to encounter angels or to ask God explicitly for that. But we must be careful that we aren't desiring angels more than we desire God. If we do, He probably isn't going to send one to us--because He wants to be the primary focus of our worship and attention.
(There is so much more that I want to say on this topic that I am going to continue to answer it next week.)