Paul Yonggi Cho, pastor of a Pentecostal Church in South Korea, has written: ‘If you have not visualized clearly in your heart exactly what you hope for, it cannot become a reality to you ….. The things you really hope for can only be possessed as you visualize them clearly in your heart and mind. When they are clear in your mind the deep desire for God to grant that request now becomes a vision in your heart as well as a prayer. You will dream about it day in and day out as you are in prayer and as you go about your daily work. Without visualizing them you cannot have those things in the realm of the ‘hoped for.’ ….. We have got to learn how to use our visions and dreams.’ (Paul Yonggi Cho, The Fourth Dimension, Volume 2, So. Plainfield, NJ, USA, 1983, pages 25-26). So, according to this pastor, when we pray as well as after we have prayed we must visualize God’s answer to our prayer. In other words, we must fill our mind with visions and dreams. For to him to visualize and to have visions and dreams are the same thing, for somewhere else in his book The Fourth Dimension, after saying that in the Old Testament God often gave visions and dreams concerning future events and that in the New Testament Ananias, Paul and Cornelius had prophetic visions and dreamed dreams, he says: ‘This does not necessarily mean that we should all remain in ecstatic states. However, it does mean that we are to participate in God fulfilling His will in our lives by first envisioning His purpose and then filling our imagination with it through dreaming. Consequently, the believer should not be limited to the three-dimension plane, but should go beyond that into the fourth-dimensional plane of reality’ (Ibid, page 55). To confirm this teaching of his, Paul Yonggi Cho, cites the example of Abraham, who, according to Cho, became father of many nations because ‘he used fourth-dimensional thinking.’ (Ibid., page 59), and the example of Sarah as well, who became mother at the age of ninety for ‘she began to visualize the return of her youth’ (Ibid., page 62).
Whenever we plead with God to give us something, we are called to have faith, that is to say, we are called to make known our request to God in faith. If we do so – provided that what we have asked for is according to the will of God for us – we will receive what we have asked of Him. For Jesus said: “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 21:22 – NIV). What does it mean to pray to God in faith? It means to be sure that we will receive what we have asked of Him, for Jesus said: “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24 – NKJV). Therefore, if we want God to answer our prayer, in our mind there must be no doubt when we pray to God as well as after we have prayed. Doubt makes prayer of no effect: for James said that if one of us lacks wisdom, he must ask of God, “but let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8 – NKJV). Should we visualize what we have asked for, for “believe that you receive them” means that we must visualize them in our mind? Not at all; the Holy Scripture does not teach this thing. If one reads carefully all those examples of men and women who prayed to God both under the Old Testament and the New Testament he will find no trace of this visualization, of which pastor Cho speaks, which is an occult technique rather than a biblical practice. That is confirmed by the fact that Cho puts much emphasis on the mind of man, and on the power the mind exercises on a person, for after saying that Sarah visualized the return of her youth, he says: ‘If a woman begins to think of herself as attractive, she can be. Not only will physical changes take place, but her self-image will change and she will begin to take better care of herself and start do dress as an attractive person’ (The Fourth Dimension, page 62). The visualization of which Paul Yonggi Cho speaks – or the fourth dimension, as he calls it – is very similar to the creative visualization which is widespread in the New Age (the big social-religious movement full of occultism, esotericism and all kinds of lies), which is a meditative technique that can be found in eastern religions and occultism. Through this technique – say its supporters – one can by his imagination, which is very often accompanied by positive confessions, determine all kinds of positive things, such as health, prosperity, etc. In other words, creative visualization is a technique by which one discovers that he is the ‘architect of his life’, that is, God. Shakti Gawain, whose books on creative visualization are very much appreciated by many New Agers, affirms: ‘Creative visualization is the technique of using your imagination to create what you want in your life. There is nothing at all new, strange, or unusual about creative visualization. You are already using it every day — every minute in fact. It is your natural power of imagination, the basic creative energy of the universe, which you use constantly, whether or not you are aware of it. …. Creative visualization is magic in the truest and highest meaning of the word. It involves understanding and aligning yourself with the natural principles that govern the workings of our universe, and learning to use these principles in the most conscious and creative way. If you had never seen a gorgeous flower or a spectacular sunset before, and someone described one to you, you might consider it to be a miraculous thing (which it truly is!). Once you saw a few yourself, and began to learn something about the natural laws involved, you would begin to understand how they are formed and it would seem natural to you and not particularly mysterious. The same is true of the process of creative visualization. What at first might seem amazing or impossible to the very limited type of education our rational minds have received, becomes perfectly understandable once we learn and practice with the underlying concepts involved. Once you do so, it may seem that you are working miracles in your life … and you truly will be! Physically, we are all energy, and everything within and around us is made up of energy. We are all part of one great energy field. Things that we perceive to be solid and separate are in reality just various forms of our essential energy which is common to all. We are all one, even in a literal, physical sense. The energy is vibrating at different rates of speed, and thus has different qualities, from finer to denser. Thought is a relatively fine, light form of energy and therefore very quick and easy to change. Matter is relatively dense, compact energy, and therefore slower to move and change. Within matter there is great variation as well. Living flesh is relatively fine, changes quickly, and is easily affected by many things. A rock is a much denser form, slower to change, and more difficult to affect. Yet even rock is eventually changed and affected by the fine, light energy of water, for example. All forms of energy are interrelated and can affect one another’ (Excerpted from Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain, 1995). Therefore, the teaching of Cho on visualization, even though he affirms that it is God who fulfils His purpose in our life, is substantially contaminated with occult teachings. Cho has secretly introduced into the Church some occult principles which are taught by many eastern religions and by occultists. So, brothers and sisters, see to it that you do not give place to the creative visualization, or the fourth dimension, for it is of the devil.
There is another untrue thing in the teaching of Yonggi Cho, for according to him imaginations and thoughts are visions and dreams, and he cites the examples of the prophets of old and those biblical passages which speak of visions and dreams to support this. By saying this he has perverted the meaning of these words, that is, ‘visions’ and ‘dreams’, for he deceives believers into believing that to think about something is to receive visions and dreams from God, and therefore they will come true just as in ancient times the visions and dreams of the prophets and other people came true at God’s appointed time. We are really disgusted at what Cho says about dreams and visions. Know this, brothers, that the visions and dreams recorded in the Scripture, which had Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Daniel, Paul, Ananias, Peter and all the others, have nothing to do with the visions and dreams Yonggi Cho speaks of when he speaks about visualization, for the dreams and visions of Cho are nothing but a mental exercise performed by a believer, or rather some thoughts he thinks in his mind, while the visions and dreams one receives from God are supernatural manifestations which comes from God, through which God, in a glorious and inscrutable way, enables us to see certain things.
As for visions, they can be seen with open eyes while we are conscious, as in the case of the vision of angels the women saw at the tomb (cf. Matthew 28:1-7), and of the vision of the two angels the disciples of the Lord saw when Jesus was taken up into heaven (cf. Acts 1:9-11); they can also be seen with closed eyes, as in the case of the vision that Saul of Tarsus saw while he was in the house of Judas in which vision he saw a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him (cf. Acts 9:10-12); and they can also be seen while one is into a trance (that is, while one’s physical senses are suspended during a trance) as in the case of the vision Peter saw while he was on the housetop of the house of Simon, a tanner (cf. Acts 10:9-18).
As for dreams, one can have divine dreams only while he is asleep; among the dreams mentioned in the Bible we cite the dreams dreamed by Joseph (cf. Genesis 37:5-11); those dreamed by Pharaoh (cf. Genesis 41:1-32), the dream dreamed by Solomon (cf. 1 Kings 3:5-15), and the dreams dreamed by king Nebuchadnezzar (cf. Daniel chapters 2 and 4).
Therefore, I urge you not to call your thoughts and imaginations ‘visions’ or ‘dreams’ for they are not visions nor dreams. Of course you can think about a certain thing as many times as you wish and even in faith, but if that thing is not according to the will of God for you, you will never receive it. Instead, if you receive from God a vision or a dream in which God promises to give you something, then be sure that you will receive that thing for that vision or dream is the Word of God and God will bring it to pass at His appointed time. You can think about that vision or that dream as many times as you desire (and you’d better think about it for that vision or dream has come from God and is not something you have invented) and you will be blessed every time you think about it, and believing that that vision or dream will come true at God’s appointed time by God’s set purpose you will rejoice and be comforted greatly during the most difficult times you will have to face – during which it seems that God has forgotten the word He spoke to you in that vision or dream – before seeing that vision or dream come true. Do not call your wishes ‘visions’ or ‘dreams’ either, for the Scripture doesn’t call them in that way.
Take heed to yourselves, brothers, for it is wrong and very dangerous to call one’s thoughts or one’s wishes ‘visions’ or ‘dreams’, for in this way one puts them on the same level with the ‘visions’ and ‘dreams’ given by God, and one begins to think that they will surely be fulfilled when it is not necessarily true that they will come true. Of course, if one of your wishes is according to the will of God, He will give it to you, but I say it again, if it is not according to the will of God for you, you will never see the fulfilment of your desire, for it was just a thought.
Brothers, may God give you visions and dreams for your edification and grant all your requests. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.