In my last post, I challenged you all to try a Listening Prayer Exercise. If you missed it, read no further until you check it out—click here.

Here is the teaching to help you unpack the images and symbolism:

This Listening Prayer exercise is about discovering identity – or who God made you to be.  

If you are giving this to others, don’t initially tell them what it’s about, as it may skew their results. It’s hard enough to hear God without overthinking things ourselves. After completing the questions on the first page, unpack the meanings. If you are doing this with others, break up into small groups of 3 or 4 people. Use biblical symbolism as it pertains to colors, numbers, and symbolic images that are used in dream interpretation. In general, I explain the different categories as follows…

Home represents your identityHOUSE – a picture of your life, the space in the Spirit where you reside, function, dwell, and rest—your realm of existence. It is peaceful, orderly? A white house is a picture of purity and righteousness. A house in disrepair connotes a life in disrepair. A cottage points to simplicity and rest. A large house with many levels is a more complex life, a greater realm of influence.

A room is your identity in ministryROOM – a picture of where you spend the most time. The room often reflects someone’s ministry or what they are doing within their realm of existence. Living rooms are places to meet with others. Bedrooms are a place of intimacy or rest or intercession. A dark bedroom could be a picture of depression or illness. Kitchens can be a place of hospitality. Basements could be hidden sin. Hallways might represent a time of transition, etc.

A tree is your identity from family or originTREE – This is your foundation of personhood pointing to parents, grandparents, and your ancestral line. John Sandford[i] says whatever happened with your mother and father or whoever raised you IS the trunk of your whole tree. Did you receive unconditional love, were you valued, did you have “place” within your family? Fruit on the tree can represent things that have made you stronger or better because of trials. Or if the tree is young, barren, or a hollow log, it points to underdevelopment, dysfunction, or sleeping spirit, respectively.

Animal represents identity in personalityANIMAL – A sense of your God-given personality. Horses portray strong, passionate people. A dog could be a friendly, light-hearted person who gives love easily. Can include fish, reptile, and mammals.

Water is your identity with the Holy SpiritWATER – This is a picture of the Holy Spirit and how you relate to Him. Waterfalls point to a wonderful download of the Spirit. Gentle streams show a tender relationship. A puddle could be the Spirit giving you some reflections on yourself. Giant waves show the deep ebbs and flows of the Holy Spirit. And where are you in the image? Observing from far away or playing in the waves? Maybe you have a toe in the stream?

Hat is identity in the Body of ChristARTICLE FOR HEAD – This is often a picture of your identity, your sense of self, and sometimes your level of authority—a policeman’s hat for example. A pilot’s hat points to authority in the prophetic (seeing things from God’s perspective). A marching band hat could show identity as being part of the body of Christ, moving in synchronicity.

Jesus is handing you something about identityJESUS – First, how do you feel as Jesus comes close to you? Do you want to hug him, fall to the ground, step back, or run away? This is revealing.

Secondly, what He hands you is something that He has for you right now. A key shows that God wants to unlock something for you—freedom in an area, a new realm of understanding, or victory over some besetting sin. A flower can be friendship, and a rose symbolizes the Bridegroom wooing His Bride. A baton in a relay race could be God giving you a new assignment.

If you are sharing this with others, suggest various interpretations and always look for positive meanings to build up. Many images are contextual, or relevant to a person’s specific life circumstances. Ask questions, but don’t be too intrusive. We don’t have the right to march into someone’s life uninvited. If someone’s images are mostly negative and point to a shaky or wounded identity, it can be an opportunity to show love and encouragement. Pray for them in a healing kind of way, declaring God’s unconditional love for them—that in God’s kingdom, they have value, place and purpose.

I welcome your comments and questions!


Note: This exercise was developed by Andrea Bareither, daughter of John and Paula Sanford. Shared with permission.

[i] Transforming The Inner Man: God’s Powerful Principles for Inner Healing and Lasting Life Change (Transformation), by John Loren Sandford and Paula Sandford.


  1. Susan … I wanted to share where my mind took me.
    House . Log cabin with beauty that surrounds.
    Room . Great room with kitchen.
    Tree . Whisping Willow, branches blowing in the wind.
    Animal . Bird, Eagle.
    Water . Standing in the rain with my arms out, rain covering me.
    Article for Head . Feather in my hair.

  2. okay, jesus handed me a luscious taffy apple on a stick covered thickly with soft buttery caramel. i can gather insight from what the other pictures off the top of my head offered me. but i am bemused and a little lost on this one. any thoughts come flying into your spirit about it?

    suzee B