Let me preface this by saying: While I personally understand the principles of what Christianity calls the Trinity (this term is not in the Scripture)-in my mind, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all one and the same (it gets rid of the confusion for me when I witness to others)-so my use of the 3 terms is interchangeable.
When we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, as you know, we have immediately be given our conscience to the Holy Spirit. This is the start of growing spiritually in our walk with God
All Christians who are diligent (and even those who don't) have some aspect of this gift, however some more so than others are given an increased awareness. They are able to feel, see and hear beyond the general confines of this world.
The gift of spiritual discernment is not the only gift that God has for his people. Other gifts are speaking in tongues, the gift of interpretation of tongues, the gift of prophecy, etc. (Read Paul's letters in the New Testament to get a full listing--and we should never, never limit God to a list--I am sure He's given many, many, many more!!) (Read the New Testament in it's entirety actually)
I took the following definition from a site that has helped me greatly to come to terms with this gift that began to manifest itself within my spirit when I was 12 years old
Spiritual discernment : calling on the Holy Spirit to lead or give direction on a matter. It is how the Spirit shows the church or its people what God wants them to do and be.
There is discernment of :
the spirit of the times we live in.
Discernment is more than just a skill. Discernment is a gift from God before it is anything else. Yet there are clearly skills that are put to use in doing it, and you can become better at it through training and experience."
So, in my opinion (and it's just my opinion) Christians have a much better handle on this ability than those who chose to utilize their gift by other means--I'm speaking of those who use tarot cards, ouija boards, tea leaves, etc. I am not putting these things down. As a Christian, Jesus has taught us not to judge others. However, the gift of Spiritual discernment requires no tools (which really cuts down on expenses [smile])
Anyway, for example, sometimes when you are sleeping there are dreams that are so vivid, so real it's like you are actually there! You'll feel a "welling up" in the pit of your stomach or your heart beats faster---Jeremiah called "fire, shut up in my bones." Or you'll experience some jolt that pulls you back into a waking state with a quickness. You generally walk away from that dream with a clear message of some sort that you might not understand but will remember for years, and years. I would call that experience the gift working within you. I write all of those experiences down as soon as possible in diary.
Other times, you would walk into a room or a situation, or meet someone that actually causes you pain! Maybe your stomach will react, or you'll have the beginnings of a headache--and everytime you are around this situation, you experience the same reaction. This means you are grieving your spirit and must take steps to figure out what it is or why it is this is happening.
And, sometimes the feeling is wonderful in another situation or around people. This bears watching as well! This gift is our own personal barometer of sorts!
Sometimes it involves others, sometimes it is something you must fix within yourself. In all cases the gift of Spiritual discernment is a gift that helps you make the right decisions in your life, for you to maybe pray for others--sometimes people forget to pray when they are having a difficult situation and this gift will make you aware of it. And impress on you to pray, even speak to that person in an encouraging manner. (By the way, you don't always have to say "the spirit told me to pray for you" you can just say, "how are you doing" and mean it--the person will feel the Lord working within you and respond--they might shut down and not want to talk, or they'll open up and a barrage of words will come out)
You are not always supposed to be so public and outspoken with this gift. In fact, Jesus does not really want us to work that way. I find that when the spirit has impressed upon me to do something, I pray for others in secret because I don't want the devil and his cohorts to get wind of the efforts we make to help our fellow man or to bring others to Christ and/or to jeopardize my own personal soul salvation by putting some stumbling blocks!
But I digress because we are in the Dream Forum.....:
Not all dreams are visions but believe me, you will know when the gift of Spiritual discernment has been manifested in one.
My advice to those who have been endowed with an increased manifestation of this gift is to constantly try the spirit so that you can decipher if it's really God talking to you, or your own opinion about something (or something with evil intent targeting you).
Trying the spirit is the advice from Jesus himself. It is as simple as "Lord, please build a fence around protecting me from hurt harm and danger. I plead the blood of Jesus and rebuke Satan in the name of Jesus"--or as Jesus commands, to pray and fast.
Spend at least 15 minutes a day in meditation, study and read the Word. Constantly ask the Lord "God, I received this vision, if this vision is not of you, I rebuke satan and all of his cohorts in the name of Jesus, depart from me right now in the name of Jesus"
Plead the Blood of Jesus constantly, so if the time comes when you are face to face with evil--it will roll out of your mouth with the greatest of ease.