When I first began to move prophetically, I did not even realize that prophecy existed. I was raised in a very traditional, evangelical church environment which was void of any understanding of spiritual gifts. I eventually rebelled against the church and the Lord, choosing my own path instead.
As a sophomore in college, God began to draw me to himself. This was not an overnight dealing because my heart was covered in pride, rebellion, and independence. Over a two year period, God challenged the foundations of my life and confronted my sinful ways and attitudes. In the process, I became involved in a devotional way with God. I also joined an intercessory prayer ministry at my conservative, evangelical church.
While serving in this intercessory prayer ministry, I began to “know” things that had happened, were happening, or would happen to certain people for whom I prayed. I would then use this information I received from God to pray more specifically for these situations, and I began to see results which I thought were astounding.
During this time, our pastor began teaching some truths from the Bible that I had never heard and my heart was captured. This culminated in an encounter where I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, healed of a physical condition, and delivered of a demonic oppression in a five minute span. Obviously, this launched me even further in my devotional and working relationship with the Lord.
Although I had been receiving divine revelation from God while praying for others, I never really considered myself prophetic, probably because I did not know what “prophetic” meant. However, within days of this encounter with God, I began to know things about people and situations that I could not know naturally. Although this had happened before while I was praying, I was now receiving revelation outside of the prayer times, in normal everyday life.
I remember distinctly the first instance when I spoke the secrets of a friend’s heart to him. We were both stunned, because we knew that God had told me what was transpiring with him. it so shocked me that I began researching the Bible to discover what was happening. I discovered that I had received a word of knowledge, and from that point, God began teaching me about the prophetic.
In the process, God spoke to me about a calling in the prophetic ministry, although I possessed no real understanding of what that meant practically. I then began to pray for and study the prophetic gifts and ministry, but I found no real guidance except from the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and friends who were as spiritually immature as I.
I grew spiritually, made some mistakes, became frustrated, quit ministering out of embarrassment at times, and went through a good amount of rejection. I was asked to leave a church or two, was blamed for things I did not do, and was as immature as you would expect anyone with my background, prophetic gift and stubbornness to be. I also married during this time.
In addition to my wife, God began placing others in my life who could help me. Men such as Rick Joyner, Robin McMillan and Bob Jones were able to disciple me through their example and friendship. They loved me, gave me opportunities to minister and confronted me when I needed it. I eventually began to prophetically function in a way that was beneficial to the church, and God opened doors for me to minister beyond our local congregation.
But in the midst of all my failures and successes, one thing never left me. I never forgot that I became prophetic simply by pursuing God and serving others through intercessory prayer. Indeed, I later found in Scripture that the foundation of most prophetic ministry is friendship with God and intercession for others.
The Place of the Word
Additionally, after being baptized in the Holy Spirit, I found the Bible to be a brand new book. I had been reading it for years, but things began making sense to me in a way that I had not previously understood. I also developed such a love for the Bible that I couldn’t stand to be away from it for very long. Though devotion and intercession were my entrance into the prophetic, devouring the written Word served to provide the framework and structure for my understandings.
Scripture is our “more sure word of prophecy,” (2 Peter 1:19 KJV) and if we want to be prophetic, we, like other prophetic people before us, must eat the scroll (see Ezekiel 3:1-4; Revelation 10:8-1 1). As I gave myself to studying and applying the Scriptures to my life, God began “speaking” to me, not only for individuals, but also for congregations, cities and nations. Hiding the Word in my heart caused me to understand God’s prophetic purposes in a much deeper way.
Anyone who paves streets with gold is extravagant. However, God is also economical. He seems to delight in accomplishing several things in our lives at once. In my case, as I was growing in my knowledge of the Lord, I was also growing in a sensitivity that prepared me to move prophetically. Then as I became more prophetic, I also became more deeply connected to the Lord in a devotional way by being amazed at the revelation He shared with me.
Our seeking to become prophetic should lead us to a greater devotion to the Lord Himself. If it does not, then we need to make serious adjustments in our approach. What profit is there in becoming the most prophetically gifted person on the planet if we have left our first love? This chapter is not a call to not pursue the gifts, but rather a reminder to pursue them with the Lord, not instead of Him.
Lastly, remember that we are all still learning. Do not ever fall to acting like an expert or believing that you are one. The greatest prophets of our day are still only seeing in glimpses and fragments. We must find more humility and a deeper hunger for God. We need greater revelation, greater interpretation, greater character, and greater love. We must find the heart which Paul had in order to go further in God.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death (Philippians 3:10 KJV).
This is the heart the Lord is looking for in us: first, that our foremost desire is to know Him; second, that we long to know the power of His resurrection (the empowerment He has for us); third, that we are willing to share in His sufferings and be rejected as He was; finally, that we are willing to lay down our lives for our friends, just as He laid down His life.
God is not only looking for people who can speak His words—He is looking for those who love His Son with all they have. If our lives are focused on these four issues (knowing Him, walking in His power, participating in His suffering, and laying our lives down for others), we will not only prophesy with our mouths, but also with our lives.
A WORD TO PASTORS AND CHURCH LEADERS
I have written this material from a unique perspective. I am both a pastor and a prophetic minister. I am one of you and one of them. As a pastor, I understand the responsibility and difficulties associated with overseeing a large number of people with vastly different backgrounds, ideas, and callings. However, as a prophetic man, I understand from experience the misunderstandings and accompanying rejection surrounding my gift and calling.
I know there is tension between some pastors and prophetic people. Much of it is deserved. But I know your heart. You, like me, want a mature, healed prophetic ministry functioning in the congregations we serve. But to have mature prophetic people we must accept and help the immature prophetic people who are among us. Indeed, God has already sent the mature prophetic people we need; they have just come in “seedling form.”
As such, we need to allow them to “be planted and staked out,” giving them sufficient support to hold them in place. They need to be staked out to allow them to be rooted so that they can grow, but we cannot do this with malice, only with love. Also, we cannot prune them prematurely, or we may kill them. Many may need some time to mature before they can endure the pruning they will need.
Listed below are several encouragements to you as you open your congregation to begin moving in prophecy.
1) Value and honor the prophetic
Teach on the prophetic. We cannot expect anything but weeds to grow unless we plant good seed. Value and honor the prophetic ministry in your teaching from the pulpit. If you will sow good seed and water and fertilize it, God will give you a good harvest.
2) Give the prophetic a place in your congregation.
Prophecy is especially helpful because it builds the church. I have seen so many people helped by the release of the prophetic that it is impossible to estimate the eternal fruit. When people see that God will use them to minister to others, you will find that many of their own struggles fall away.
3) Don’t be so open-minded that when you bend over your brains fall out.
Judge prophecy. Resist the temptation to be afraid of missing God. Many pastors and church leaders are hesitant to judge prophecy for fear of missing something God is saying. God is a Father and is patient with us as we grow in our understanding. If you are not sure about something, ask God and He will give you wisdom.
4) Pastor the prophetic, but don’t try to make them pastors.
You can’t make an apple into an orange. People with a prophetic calling on their lives are often different and sometimes very different. They may be frustrating at times for a number of reasons. They need some of what you have, but they will never be pastors.
5) Take authority when you need to.
Don’t be a wimp. Do not let the rebellious and immature run the church. This does not honor God, nor will it release the prophetic. Use wisdom and discernment in those you promote to positions of leadership.
If you teach on and release the prophetic in your congregation, you have the right to correct and discipline when needed. By building relationships of trust, the prophetic people in your congregation will be open to your correction.
There is no way to estimate the fruit that our congregation and others worldwide have experienced through a release of the prophetic. Remarkably, we have seen few real problems with those whom we have trained through our local congregation and fellowship of ministries. While our teams have ministered to over thirty thousand people prophetically through conferences, retreats, and at our church fellowship, we have encountered less than two dozen problems. While other mistakes may have occurred, they have been insignificant enough that people have not bothered to mention them.
The structure of our training has been much like the outline of this book. We teach scriptural concepts about the prophetic while removing the myths that served as obstacles. We teach how God speaks, how to interpret, and how to administrate prophecy as well. Then, we release those who have been trained to minister prophetically within the parameters listed in I Corinthians 14:3. We also use those who were more experienced and mature to lead and oversee prophetic ministry teams.
As the team members mature, we also address the different issues listed in the later chapters of this book. We teach on the spirit of prophecy, love, patience, and other fruits of the Spirit. We also deal with the rejection that some harbor and suffer from. Through it all, we try to love and receive those whom God has sent to us. We also do not hesitate to confront them personally when necessary. But when we do confront them, we do not reject them. Possibly more than anything, the loving confrontations without rejection have brought healing to many.
Many who were immature only a few years ago are now being used by God to train and teach others. Some are now pastoring congregations and being used powerfully by God in other aspects of ministry. Give the prophetic a chance, but do not leave it to chance. Release it with purpose and planning, and you will be amazed by what happens.
Adapted from: You May All Prophesy! Practical Guidelines for Prophetic Ministry by Steve Thompson