How to Understand God's Gift of Prophecy
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. (1 Corinthians 12:1)
At the moment my church is going through a series on spiritual gifts, given to us through the Holy Spirit. Last year, most years perhaps, I didn’t think about spiritual gifts much if at all. Maybe in a “That person has the gift of X, how awesome...” way but not praying to receive them. But through this series, I’ve realized I’m missing out by not asking.
Because the more I walk with God, the more I know that I so desperately want to serve him as best as I can. God’s love has overwhelmed me the past six months and seeing how much he’s done in my heart, seeing how he’s encouraging and healing people around me always, always, always brings tears to my eyes. Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend just how much he does for us and then my heart explodes when I realize he wants to do more. He has endless good things (and surprises!) for us if we would just ask for, walk with, obey him.
So each week lately has focused on a different gift. Corinthians 12 mentions wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing of spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues (I think I’ve noted them all). And because we are to “earnestly desire” the gifts (v. 31), you can bet I’m up there for altar call time! Lord, yes! Equip me please so I can serve you (v. 7). Because I’m through with living life for myself and my immediate circle (family, friends) only. Lord, I’m raw and you know I’m not perfect but I’m willing to serve you with all I am. Today I keep singing “Help me God, breathe on my weakness for all I want is to be like Jesus” (Hillsong’s Upper Room). Strengthen me so I can be strong for you!
It was with this attitude that I attended a conference this past weekend lead by Pastor Rob Lee. Pastor Rob leads Acts Christian Fellowship in Toronto and explains moving in the prophetic very clearly. There was a lot of good stuff so feel free to listen to the sermons (18-20 Oct) if you’re interested! Otherwise here’s some of what I learned in a (hopefully easy to follow) Q&A format. Any errors in note taking are my own.
Why learn about prophecy?
Because the Bible says so!
Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. (1 Corinthians 14:1)
What does God sound like?
Most of the time, God sounds like you. But when God talks, it’s wiser, makes more sense, really fits a situation, etc.
To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. (John 10:3-4)
(I totally get what Pastor Rob is saying here. Recently I was praying, I think just pouring out my frustrations about something and God said “Don’t forget your main aim is to be more and more holy.” Now that definitely didn’t come from my brain! I never think like that, though I should aha, and I didn’t know the verses (Ephesians 1:3-4, 1 Peter 1:14-16) until I looked them up. But it was awesome and I needed the word. Thank you, Jesus.)
How do I know the voice in my head is God?
Short answer is you don’t. Without faith it is impossible to please God. But you can learn to hear and trust God’s voice through practice. Try testing it against the following:
Is it in line with the Bible?
Is it in line with what God’s character is?
Does it sound like something Jesus would say?
How does God speak?
Most often it’s through a thought, feeling, or something in your memory. It could also be through a vision (mental picture) in your mind or in reality, a dream (almost always symbolic, write it down and give it to someone who is good at interpreting them if possible), a verse, a song, etc.
How do you react to a word that you don’t think is from God?
Ignore it. God is capable of talking to you in a way that reaches you. Or you may want to write it down and come back to it … some prophetic words can be for later.
Is it OK to start praying for someone if you don’t have the full download yet?
Yes! “You’re dreaming if you think you’re going to get a complete download.” Take a step of faith and God will give you more.
(This past weekend I was part of the prayer team that prayed over conference attendees. I’m very new to prophetic prayer for others, it was only my third time serving, but I thought it was so special that we had this opportunity to grow together and that our fellow brothers and sisters would let us practice. There were definitely things I could have done better … one time I took so long waiting and waiting to understand my download that I think the lady felt bad for me and started prophesying for herself haha. But another time, I saw a clear image and started praying and as I prayed, the image developed / changed and I prayed accordingly and that one seemed to really hit home. So I’ll definitely try and follow this advice more … start and trust God to lead.)
Any other tips?
Good prophecy is your heart connected to God’s heart.
Prophecy should be very loving. The enemy is the accuser … God sees our faults but uses light and life to bring us out.
Close to love is honour. People must leave feeling honoured. If you don’t love / honour a person, better not to prophecy over them.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; (Romans 12:10).
It is healthy to get feedback on your prophetic prayer (e.g. whether or not it was accurate). That’s how you learn.
Earnestly desire and spend time developing this gift.
What are your thoughts on spiritual gifts? Do you have any / are there any you’re earnestly seeking? Does your church discuss them? Would love to hear your experiences!