Growing in Prophetic Ministry


Growing in Prophetic Ministry 

One of the questions I am often asked is, “How can someone grow in the prophetic?” This is a great question, and the answer is quite practical if you are.

But before I address the specifics of how to grow in prophetic ministry, let me address the underlying cause of why this question is so often asked.

One of the primary reasons for this question is that most churches handle the prophetic gift quite differently from other spiritual gifts.

Most churches have tracks for leadership development, administration, mercy ministries or teaching. However, only a few churches have practical biblicaly based prophetic ministry training in place.

Despite this lack of training, people are expected to immediately walk in spiritual maturity, having all of the answers regarding the gift of prophecy without having had any space to ask questions or make mistakes.

Couple this lack of training with the faulty belief that one wrong prophecy makes someone a false prophet, and no wonder the prophetic ministry is in the state it is today! Something needs to change.

As you study 1 Corinthians, it is clear that the people who were gifted prophetically did not have all the answers. They were far from spiritually mature. No one wakes up one morning with all the answers, suddenly understanding how to use their spiritual gift with mastery.

Even Paul told his son in the faith, Timothy, on two separate occasions not to neglect the spiritual gift that God had placed within him. 

Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you (1 Tim. 4:14).

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands (2 Tim. 1:6). 

Maturity in all spiritual gifts takes time and intentionality.

Let’s look at four practical ways to develop the spiritual gift of prophecy.

1. Desire

When Adam and Eve sinned against God, humanity’s spiritual capacity to know and fellowship with God died. Though they were still made in the image of God, they lost their unique place of fellowship and communion. They were cut off from personally knowing and walking with God. “For as in Adam all die…” (1 Cor. 15:22a).

Praise God that the story does not end there. The gospel of Jesus Christ tells us that, when he redeems us, everything that died with Adam is resurrected in Christ—”so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22b).

At salvation, our spiritual life is reborn, and, as John 3:3 says, we are given the capacity to “see the kingdom.” Like Adam and Eve before the fall, we now can know and walk with God. Now, through prayer, studying the scripture, and the common means of grace, we can continually grow and mature as we seek the Lord with our whole heart. 

If you have a desire to grow in the prophetic ministry, you are on the right track. Only living things have longings. Desire is the most integral part of all spiritual growth, and our capacity to grow in the prophetic is no different. We must never assume that because God knows where we live, he will show up at our door and demand our attention if he wants to use us. The scriptures teach us that the impartation of spiritual gifts has as much to do with God’s sovereignty as it does our active pursuit. 

Notice the mystery and tension between these two truths: 

All these (spiritual gifts) are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills (1 Cor. 12:11).

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy (1 Cor. 14:1). 

The apostle Paul shows us that the sovereignty of God (i.e., “as he wills”) and our responsibility to “earnestly desire” work together to manifest the gifts of the Spirit in our life. It is not an either/or. It is a both/and. The phrase “earnestly desire” in this passage means to jealously pursue! It is fascinating to meditate on this passage and realize that our passion to be used by the Lord is the very thing that God uses to cultivate the gifts he has placed inside of us. The writer of Hebrews reminds us:

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (11:6). 

This seeking is not a negotiation with God or an attempt to overcome his reluctance. It is laying hold of God’s willingness and desire to meet with us. If you want to grow in prophetic ministry, desire is the first step.

2. Spiritual Gifts Flow From Relationship 

Not long ago, while listening to the radio, I began to think about the uniqueness of each persons voice. I asked myself a simple question: would I be able to pick the singer’s voice out of a large crowd without seeing their face? Without any hesitation, I knew the answer: no. Why? I had not spent enough time listening to the singer to truly know his voice. It is not that I had not heard the singer’s voice; it is that I did not know his voice. On the other hand, I can distinguish my Father’s voice in a split second because I have an established relationship and history with him. The singer’s voice on the radio was something that I had heard many times before (past tense), but my Dad’s voice is one I know (present tense). This truth is exemplified in John 10 when Jesus describes how his disciples know his voice:  

To him, the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers” (10:3-5).

Like all spiritual gifts, the gift of prophecy is intended to come from the overflow of our relationship with God. It is not to be our only connecting point of the relationship. It was to this concern that Jesus spoke this stern warning:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’ (Matthew 7:21-23). 

Some people have attempted to use this verse as a “proof text” for the idea that people who pursue spiritual gifts are off track. This could not be further from the truth. Yes, some people presume to operate in the spiritual gifts which do not have a relationship with God. This verse is a stern reminder that we should not find security in the gifts we have. We find our security in Jesus. However, with that said, I would like to challenge you. If people can perform miracles without being in the right relationship with God, how much more should we be able to do so when we know our Father, who desires to move through our lives (Lk. 11:11-13)?  

3. Stewardship 

When Paul urged Timothy to fan into flame the gift of God that resided inside him, he was not reaching for an endearing analogy. 

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands (2 Tim. 1:6).  

He was reminding Timothy of the powerful truth that you do not need a lot of wood, just a few sparks and some kindling when you start a fire. In reality, if you start with too many logs, the fire may never catch. This command to “fan into flame the gift of God” not only applies to Timothy but us as well. We need not be discouraged if we feel that we do not possess a spectacular gift. God is more concerned with our stewardship than our showmanship. In this regard, take encouragement from the words of Jesus:

And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Mk. 4:24-25). 

In summary, I want to encourage you: there is no formula or shortcut to growing in prophetic ministry. I am reminded of Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding at Cana (Jn. 2). We learn that, after three days of wedding festivities, the bride and groom ran out of wine. As the wedding was about to come to a crashing halt, Jesus’ mother asked him to perform a miracle. Jesus agreed to honor his mother’s request and commanded the wedding feast servants to fill six large water containers. The story goes on to tells us that Jesus turned this water into the most fantastic wine—thrilling the guests at the party. 

This story is a beautiful parallel of how God supernaturally blesses our stewardship and obedience. If we are honest with ourselves, all we can bring to God is the water of our lives. There is nothing supernatural about it, and we cannot do miraculous things in our power. But if we present ourselves to God, he can transform the tasteless water of our lives into a wine that brings him glory and points people to his beauty. As we come to a close with this chapter, let me encourage you that there is no formula for spiritual gifts, only the humble path of presenting ourselves to God as available instruments for his glory.

If you would like to learn more about spiritual gifts or discover what spiritual gifts you have, take our free spiritual gift test.

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