“Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” – 1Corinthians 14:1
Prophecy is quite simply, hearing from God and then speaking it out. You may hear something that God wants to communicate to the church or it may be for an individual or a group of specific people. Prophecy is about communicating the heart of God to the church or individual.
The gift of prophecy is to share with believers and unbelievers and is often a way that God demonstrates to people who don’t know him yet that He knows them and is concerned about them and their lives and he knows details about them that can demonstrate in a moment that they are known and seen by a God who loves them. How cool is that!
It’s interesting that the bible says in the same line to pursue love AND earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially prophecy. This gift is a way of communicating Gods love for individual people and his church so loving those around you and seeing them through the eyes of love is the foundation for the gift of prophecy.
Every believer can hear from God and that’s how God communicates with us. It is about being able to recognise the way in which He speaks to you that is important. I have written a series called ‘Walking with God’ and I cover how you may hear from God. Once you realise that you are indeed hearing God then things get really exciting!
When God speaks the messages can take different forms:
Exhortation or encouragement
Which I talked about in the last post. God wants to communicate an encouragement to someone who is maybe feeling a little lost or downhearted or maybe they are just starting something new and a word from God in the moment gives them courage and faith for what they are doing. It can be for a whole church setting, groups or an individual.
God sometimes uses a prophetic Word to bring a correction, just like an earthly parent would, where one of his children is doing something that is displeasing to him.
Prediction of future events
This is when God reveals details about a person’s future and things that are going to happen in their lives. This may be their immediate future but often these can be predictions for many years ahead.
This can be a word a bit like an encouragement so that the hearer knows that God knows and sees their pain and suffering in a given situation and He cares intimately about that and it breaks His heart too. This word will let the hearer know that they are not alone in this and God wants them to lean into Him and rely on Him and this brings great comfort.
This word is just as it sounds and can bring inspiration into a person’s life when they are lacking it in any given situation or time.
Given to equip and edify the body of Christ and let’s face it, God can communicate in so many different and creative ways. It’s about knowing that God sees it all and is available and wants to be a part of everything that is happening in our lives, nothing is too small for God to be interested in.
Some of these might sound a bit scary and when you are first moving in this gifting God would not generally give you a correction to bring to someone as these are for people who have started to mature in the gifting.
With the gift of prophecy there are different stages of the gift:
Receiving the gift when we get saved (without realising it, often as its in seed form)
Desiring the gift, when we start to get interested in the gift and are drawn to pursue it, often without realising why.
Emerging, when the gift starts to be put into practice and you see fruit from the gift appearing around you. People in church might begin to notice that you have gifting in this area.
Developing, you start to see growth in the gifting and get to do some training to help develop it.
Testing, this is often a dry season where you feel like you are not moving in the gift and this is a time where you need to draw close to God. It is also a season where you learn about being humble and relying on God completely. This season gets you ready for a new season of fruitfulness.
Maturing, after learning more through this season about your gifting there is fruitfulness and often opportunities to train others up in using this gifting.
You can move through the latter stages more than once and may encounter dry seasons but God always brings you through them and teaches you something new about Himself.
When I hear from God it is often through the everyday things around me. Often he speaks to me with a picture or something I am looking at. I then have a sense of what he wants to say through the picture. This is also accompanied by a strong sense of the Holy Spirit on my body and often my stomach might feel like I’ve got butterflies in it. When I get this feeling I know that it is something to share for the church and I sit and pray before sharing.
I will talk to whoever is leading the meeting and share what I feel God is saying and then leave it with them if they want me to share it. We always have to come under the authority of the elders of the church.
Sometimes there may not be time to share the word and when that happens instead of feeling disappointed or frustrated at not sharing I will thank God and know that I have been obedient in doing my part and the outcome is not dependent on me so the pressure is off.
“But those who proclaim God’s message speak to people and give them help, encouragement, and comfort. Those who speak in strange tongues help only themselves, but those who proclaim God’s message help the whole church.” – 1Corinthians 14:3-4
Remember, prophecy is about encouraging, strengthening or comforting others and the main purpose is to build up the church.
“But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.” – 1 Corinthians 14:3
In all prophecy we only prophecy in part and the hearer/s have to weigh (test) what has been spoken, which means don’t just take them at face value but pray about them and see if you feel like that is what God is saying to you. We can only give a human interpretation of the revelation that was received.
“Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture.” – 1 Corinthians 13:9
If you want to grow in hearing from God find someone with this ‘prophetic’ gift who can mentor you and help you to grow in confidence and courage. Having a mentor is like having a safety net where you can practise without fear of failure. Even if you get it wrong, as long as the person you are giving the ‘word’ to is encouraged and left feeling they have hope then don’t worry.
The prophetic is a beautiful gift and seeing people connect to God when they have an encouraging word spoken over them is a precious thing to be part of.
My prayer for you is that you…
“Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” – 1 Corinthians 14:1