Learning to use your prophetic gift, but feeling stuck? The 4 stages of prophecy will help you understand where you are in your prophetic journey and where you’re headed next.
This article has been completely reworked from the ground up.
It’s now about the stages of prophetic growth you may go through as you practice the gift of prophecy.
Looking for the 4 Steps of how to prophesy to an individual? You can still find them here.
Learning to use the gift of prophecy can be exciting, but it can also feel nerve-wracking and make us hesitant. Hearing God’s voice for ourselves is one thing, but trying to do the same for someone else is another matter.
If we make a mistake with our own lives, then we can pick ourselves up and start again. If another person is involved, then we may feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility. Alongside that, we may not be sure how to handle what we hear.
So how do we go from our first tentative steps in prophecy to becoming a prophet called by God? How do we grow in the prophetic?
There’s a journey to get there: I call it the four stages of prophecy.
What Are The 4 Stages Of Prophecy?
When I started out praying prophetically for people, I faced these same concerns. I had many questions and doubts about my abilities in the gift of prophecy, including:
- How will I cope if I don’t hear anything?
- What if people don’t like what they hear?
- What if they reject me?
If I knew then what I know now, I would have been more relaxed about it. Eventually, though, I discovered two important things:
First of all, God is full of grace. I realised that he teaches and trains us from where we are, not from some idealised vision of what a prophet should be. This meant I was able to loosen up and be myself.
Secondly, understanding that there are 4 distinct stages of prophecy and prophetic growth, has helped me work through my fears and given me the confidence that I need.
The 4 Stages
The 4 stages of prophecy are:
To help you understand where you are in your prophetic journey, I’ll break each of these stages down into the following sections:
- What that stage means
- How people progress through that stage
- Practical steps you can take to grow and move into the next stage
Let’s look at each one in turn.
Heads up: there’s actually a fifth stage of prophetic growth, which you can read about at the end!
4 Stages Of Prophecy: Hearing
What this stage means
The first of the 4 stages of prophecy is hearing.
This stage is all about recognising and knowing God’s voice.
You’ll learn how to attune your spiritual ears to hearing God and how he speaks to you, personally.
And as you grow, you’ll move from hearing to listening.
How people progress through the Hearing stage
Before we can share prophecy, we need to hear what God is saying and listen to him carefully.
Hearing and listening are two different things:
- Hearing requires us to open our spiritual ears and learn to discern God’s voice from all others.
- Listening enables us to not only hear but focus on God’s words and understand their full meaning.
Listening to God is, if you will, active hearing.
So the sequence of growth in the Hearing stage is this:
- Learn to hear God’s voice and know that he speaks today.
- Learn to discern God’s voice, as opposed to your own (or others’) thoughts.
- Begin to listen actively to God, rather than simply hearing.
How to grow in the Hearing stage
Here are some simple, practical steps you can take to help you learn and move into the next stage of prophetic growth:
- Find the times and places where you can hear God’s voice most easily. Then make a point of going to those places regularly and put them in your diary.
- When you pray make a conscious choice to listen as well as ask, so your prayers are not just a shopping list of desires.
- Ask God his opinion on the things that you ask for, whether they are for yourself or someone else.
- Ask the Lord to reveal things to you and to give you the gift of prophecy.
- Everyone is unique and has a unique relationship with the Lord, so ask God to teach you how he speaks to you, specifically. For example, do you hear him best through bible verses or does he speak to you in pictures?
4 Stages Of Prophecy: Speaking
What this stage means
Once you have learnt to hear God’s voice, the second of the 4 stages of prophecy is speaking.
This is about going beyond listening to God and sharing what you hear in simple prophecies.
How people progress through the Speaking stage
When simply hearing or listening to God, the Lord may share all sorts of things with us.
We may receive words, bible verses, visions or dreams. Some of those may be for ourselves and some may be for others.
But we need to ask God what he wants us to do with each one.
He may want us to share prophecies with those we pray for. He may want us simply to pray (without sharing), in light of the revelation we receive.
Either way, we will speak: either speaking our prayers to the Lord or sharing a prophetic word with another.
How to grow in the Speaking stage
These actions will help you grow in the speaking stage and move in to the next:
- Ask God to speak more often to you and to help you understand more of what he says.
- Ask God what he wants to do with each specific prophecy. Does he want you to pray? Does he want you to share it with someone? If so, how?
- Ask the Lord to give you boldness to share prophecies, but also give you his heart of love for the people you will share them with.
- Learn to understand and interpret what God says or shows you. This is even more pertinent if you receive pictures, rather than prophetic words.
- Learn how to process prophetic words and pictures. Know that prophecies don’t always come to pass: we often have to work them out and take steps of faith in order to see them bear fruit.
- Start a prophetic prayer journal and review it regularly, so you can grow in faith.
4 Stages Of Prophecy: Revelation
What this stage means
You have learned how to hear God’s voice and share simple prophecies with others. Now it’s time for you to go deeper in listening and understanding what God is saying.
In other words, you will be seeking more frequent, greater, clearer and more specific revelation.
Revelation is, of course, still about hearing. We must do the one in order to receive the other.
However, I believe there is a deeper level we can achieve where we go beyond mere hearing or listening and receive an impartation from the spirit of the Lord.
In the Revelation stage, we begin to receive more detail in our prophetic words and may combine prophecy with related gifts such as words of knowledge.
More than that, not only do we receive an impartation, but we give out that same impartation when we share a prophecy with another.
How people progress through the Revelation stage
Once someone has confidence in sharing basic prophecies, they begin to ask God for more detail.
They also seek confirmation that their prophecy is accurate. Hence, they will look for feedback from those they pray for and prophesy to.
This stage if often where Seers come to the fore. Seers tend to “see”, rather than hear, more of God and his purposes via visual means, through:
- Seeing what’s happening in the heavenly realms.
- Receiving visions of God’s throne.
- An awareness of angels (or demons) in the world around them.
- Having deep experiences of God’s presence.
How to grow in the Revelation stage
If you want to grow in this stage, you need to understand that there is a commitment required.
Our growth in the prophetic gifts will tend to be in direct proportion to the amount of time we spend in God’s presence.
Whether you do that through prayer or bible study doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you ensure you are close to him continually, preferably every day.
This isn’t about neglecting your obligations to family (or even to your employer). It’s about making space for God in the right places and times.
And it’s about seeking God for what he wants you to do, and when.
However, if you’re in this stage you’ll most likely find that you want to spend time with God simply because you’ve discovered how delightful he is to be with!
Here are some practicalities:
- Look for specific spaces in your schedule where you can spend a longer quality time to be in God’s presence: make sure to book it in or reserve it in your diary.
- Ask God for more revelation and deeper, more detailed prophecies. Spend more time meditating upon the words and pictures you receive.
- Ask the Lord for greater discernment and related gifts, such as the gift of tongues and words of knowledge or wisdom.
- Ask for feedback from the people you prophesy to and make a note of it in your prophetic prayer journal.
- Seek even more of the Father’s heart of love for people!
4 Stages Of Prophecy: Declaration
What this stage means
Where Revelation was about going deeper in hearing and understanding God, Declaration is going deeper in speaking God’s words and his truths.
Here, you will learn greater confidence and boldness when sharing prophecy.
You may also begin to share a prophecy in a more directive way, in the sense of “this is what the Lord says” (but look out for the warning below).
How people progress through the Declaration stage
As we interact with Holy Spirit we learn that prophecy is more than just words. And we learn to let our prayers fall in line with his will.
We begin to declare God’s purposes on the earth: for his kingdom to come and his will to be done, on Earth, just as it is in heaven.
We are able to prophesy in this way because we know that God himself has already declared it.
This type of prayer and prophecy becomes an agreement with God and is more powerful, as a result.
It is, therefore, very important to stay humble in this stage and truly get to grips with God’s love for ourselves and for others.
As Paul says as he discusses the spiritual gifts, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1)
If we have not learned the depths of God’s love for our fellow human beings, then declarative prophecy may become judgmental. It then loses its potency and becomes harmful instead.
(If you want to know more about the impact of God’s love on prophecy, I can recommend Shawn Bolz’ book, Translating God.)
However, the good news is that God is good and we can still grow in this stage!
How to grow in the Declaration stage
Here are some steps to learn more on how to declare prophecy:
- Make a list of bible verses that God speaks to you through. Speak them over yourself, every day, for 2 weeks or more.
- Pray in tongues for at least 10 minutes, one or more times per week.
- Ask a trusted friend, preferably someone who is also prophetic, to listen to your prophecies as you declare them. If you’re feeling brave, ask them to critique how you deliver it.
- Prophesy to one of your pets! This may sound weird but you can practice speaking blessing over someone who is unlikely to answer back! And you may be surprised by improvements in their behaviour and health, too.
- Join (or start) a local prophetic group and ask if you can practice declaration with them.
- Remember that declaration is about agreement with God, not manipulating him or other people. So ask God what he is saying first and then declare what you hear, no more and no less.
A 5th Stage: Calling
Although I have titled this article “4 Stages of Prophecy”, there is, in fact, one more stage of prophetic growth.
This final stage of prophecy is calling.
This is where a gift of prophecy becomes a ministry. Not only does the prophet practice their gift regularly, but they receive continual revelation and become recognised for that gifting.
I’ll be honest with you: although I believe everyone can prophesy, not everyone is called to be a prophet.
I believe that everyone can grow through the 4 stages described above, but only a few will be called to the fullness of it.
A prophet called by God has a particular anointing in the gift. Sometimes the prophet has a specific task given to them by the Lord himself.
Such prophets often have a particularly intimate relationship with God, but may sometimes feel lonely. This is because the Lord requires them to spend long hours alone in his presence.
This calling usually places the prophet in some sort of leadership position. This is where the gift of prophecy intersects with the concept of the “5 fold ministry”, as found in Ephesians 4 verse 11:
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” (Ephesians 4:11-12)
The ministry of the prophet in this context is all about leadership and how the prophet relates to other kinds of leaders. This is sometimes known as the office of prophet.
I will discuss what it means to take up the office of prophet and how to know you are called to be one, in a future article.
4 Stages Of Prophecy: Conclusion
It’s important to understand that different people grow at different rates in their prophetic gifting.
More importantly, the 4 stages don’t necessarily happen in the order presented here and they sometimes overlap.
Here are some examples:
- Some prophets receive a calling from the Lord many years before they display any kind of fruit or ability in that area.
- Some people learn the power of declaration through the practice of speaking bible verses over themselves. This can happen before they realise that God may be speaking to them in that way.
- And some new Christians find themselves sharing words of prophecy before they understand God’s voice or what prophecy really is!
- I have occasionally met Christians who had visions of God’s throne room before they knew how to share prophecy with others and they didn’t really know what to do with it. I encouraged some of these people that these visions might be a sign that they were called to be a prophet at some point in the future.
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Over To You
I hope that in reading this article you have a better idea of where you are in your prophetic journey and the steps you can take to grow in your gift. (P.S. You can find additional steps for growth here.)
Let us know which stage you’re in now and what actions you are going to take to grow into the next, by leaving a comment below.