As for me, when I pray and/ or talk to God I believe that my prayers is being received/ heard and that my questions are being answered when I feel a chill run through my body, like a cool breeze, refreshing, calming but on the inside that radiates to the outside.
It makes me smile everytime. I had been out of my faith for 10+ years and came back 2 years ago and the first time I stepped into a church after my first confession after a decade and saw the alter as well as the statue of the cruxified Christ I felt the cool breeze over come me like a burst of energy and it brought me to my knees and to tears of sorrow for my sins, joy for forgiveness and faith.
Since it had the outcome that it did, then it probably was from God.
Be a bit wary though - the devil and demons can do something similar. In my case, when it’s demonic, it’s usually a sort of tingle, so I pretty much ignore it.
All I’m saying here is don’t set your faith on getting “spiritual experiences”. They’re well and good when you get them, as they show that you have come to the truth. Even the demonic experiences prove that in a way, as it shows that they don’t want you to stick to the truth, namely Christ. They can start harassing you, and they’re pretty good at emulating “spiritual experiences” when they want to.
So you can come unstuck if you start expecting these things to happen. You’re a new, or newly returned Catholic (Christian). My experience is that God usually allows a period of easy grace in the early stages, with some clear signs that He’s real and knows you.
But then He stops wearing the party hat for the prodigal son or daughter, and expects them to go back out and work in the field with the elder son or daughter, who have been slogging in the paddock the whole time, more often than not without any comforting “experiences”.
I suppose the first time I really became aware of God’s presence was at Christmas 1983. I’d become a Christian late in 1982, and about a year later was involved (somebody else’s idea I assure you) with what is called a “Beach Mission” at a caravan park south of Nambour, in South East Queensland. I was Protestant at the time (Presbyterian).
The outfit that ran the “beach mission” is called Scripture Union. Link refers.
A “beach mission” was based around a group of (usually) young Christians eg. Students, who would camp at caravan parks during the School Holidays. They’d organise Christian based teaching events, games, morning teas etc. for the children of the local campers. Obviously the aim was to evangelise the kids, and hopefully the adults as well. However the kids had a fair bit of fun with it.
However I felt out of my depth in this new culture, didn’t have much confidence in myself, and was in a bit of a foul mood. I’d recently gone through a divorce, the boss had chewed me out at work before I left, and I was feeling pretty frustrated. So one of the questions I asked myself (but didn’t say anything to anybody else) was “How do I know all this (Christianity) is true, and not just a psychological prop?”
Anyway one of the routines at the Beach Mission (actually we weren’t at the beach at this particular camp, but a few kilometres inland) was to have a Bible Study for the “leaders” only at around 3pm or thereabouts. This was held under a marquis (large tent). Now it gets quite hot around Nambour at Christmas time, and it was a bit warm under the tent, even with the sides up. I was feeling rather tired, and I suppose had what you might call that siesta feeling. So I was only half paying attention to the bloke leading the Bible study.
He was reading however from either the book of Kings or Samuel. As he read the words, “… a man after my own heart…” referring to King David (as a boy at the time), I suddenly got hit with this “double whammy”, like a breath going through you in waves from head to foot. It was very pronounced, highlighted what was said (which is the only reason I remember it 30 years later), and was imposed on me by something external to myself.
I got such a shock I nearly fell of the chair. Had anybody been looking at me, they’d have seen my eyes open wide, and me give a real start. My next reaction was to look at the others present to see what they were making of this incredible experience, but of course they weren’t taking the least bit of notice as it wasn’t happening to them.
So I knew right there and then it wasn’t just a psychological prop, and that God knew me. He also knew how to contact me without anybody else knowing, unless I chose to tell them about it.
When I spoke to my pastor back in my local church a couple of weeks later, he thought about it, and said, “I think the Lord just wanted to encourage you. He knew you’d bee through a tough trot.”
The “double whammy” occurred twice more as it happened, probably both times in the next year, and both times highlighting words spoken, in both cases by the pastor himself.
And it hasn’t happened since.
However between the second and third occurrence I started getting a fair bit of flack from demonic sources - ‘tingles’, bumps in the night etc. By the time the third “double whammy” came along, I’d had a gutful, and was actually quite cynical, event though I’m convinced the third occasion was also from God.
And that’s why I sounded the word of warning about these sensations - the can be divine, but they can also be demonic. Once God allows you to experience His presence directly, even in a very small way (and it is a very slight touch - if He used anything like His full power He’d kill you … “…No man can look on my face and live”…), then it seems to give the devil permission to try to deceive you, by appearing as an “angel of light” as St. Paul wrote.