How to get the gift of prophecy? How do you receive it? Can prophecy be taught?
I received an email recently which asked these questions and challenged what I am doing on timbaderonline.com
The sender claimed that prophecy is a gift from God, and hence cannot be taught.
In other words, if you want to know how to get the gift of prophecy, you’ll have to go to God himself – and no one else.
They went on to say that prophecy was never taught in the New Testament, and that our focus should therefore be on the cross alone.
You might think that I dismissed this message out of hand. But I could see they were sincere and had given a lot of thought to their theology of how to get the gift of prophecy.
In fact, writing my reply gave me pause for thought, too.
As many people do, I spent much of the Christmas period thinking about the year just gone, and praying for the year ahead.
In particular, I was reflecting on my new circumstances. I now have a dedicated day each week, to work on my writing.
At the same time, I was reading Michael Hyatt’s new book Your Best Year Ever. This excellent book shows you how to set your goals for the coming year – and achieve them.
Michael encourages you to think big, so I have some very big goals for this year.
But Michael also asks you to examine yourself. You need to see if you have any limiting beliefs about your goals, or your ability to follow through.
Through simple exercises, I discovered all kinds of lies and half truths, hiding in the recesses of my mind.
In the end I had a written set of goals for this year. But there was a part of me that still had nagging doubts.
Every writer gets these thoughts:
Will anyone read what I write?
Who’s interested anyway?
But this time, they were in full force. I was beginning to feel paralysed before I’d even got started.
And into this frame of mind, the challenging email arrived.
For some, this could have been the last straw. For me, it became an opportunity.
I decided to review my own thoughts and feelings on the subject of how to get the gift of prophecy.
Immediately, I began thinking through the arguments and counter arguments.
And here’s what I concluded.
First of all, one thing I think we can all agree on, is that prophecy is a gift from God.
Like any of the spiritual gifts, it is the Lord’s prerogative to give it to us. Or not.
We haven’t done anything to deserve the gift of prophecy, and we cannot “hype ourselves up” to get it.
We either have it, or we don’t. There are no half measures with God.
However, that’s not the end of the story.
One gift that every Christian has is the ability to hear God’s voice.
Some of us find that easier than others. And we all hear God in different ways.
Some hear God mainly through the scriptures, while others respond best to the whispers of Holy Spirit.
Nevertheless, when you give your life to Jesus, you make a direct connection with God.
This means you already have the pre-requisites for any of the spiritual gifts.
The potential is there.
We’ve established how to get the gift of prophecy: it’s a gift from God. It’s up to him if he wants to give it to us or not.
Thankfully, God is good and loves to give good gifts to his children.
We can ask him for those gifts and he is a gracious and generous giver.
Solomon asked God for the gift of wisdom and the Lord was pleased with his choice.
So, in the same way, we can ask God for the gift of prophecy.
On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up and spoke to the crowd. He proclaimed a message about Jesus.
But he also had to explain what was happening to the believers, who were speaking in the languages of everyone who listened.
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17)
He described this phenomenon as an expression of Joel’s prophecy, that “your sons and daughters will prophesy”.
Note that they were speaking in tongues, but Peter described it as prophecy.
Certainly, it was a prophetic act: one that directed the hearers to the activity of Holy Spirit.
I believe that the activity of Holy Spirit is increasing today and as a result, more and more people will operate in the spiritual gifts – and in the gift of prophecy.
Each of the prophets in the bible had an intimate relationship with their God.
Jesus is the prime example of this. He often spent long periods of time in his father’s presence, particularly prior to making important decisions.
Holy Spirit was his intermediary and now he is ours too. Indeed, as Jesus said, “he will lead you into all truth” (John 16:13).
It’s the same with the gift of prophecy: Holy Spirit is the one who will train you in its use.
So I can’t give you the gift of prophecy, at least not directly.
However, I can pray for you to receive the gift of prophecy from the Lord.
I can pray for Holy Spirit anointing on you and to impart to you a deeper level of that anointing in the gift of prophecy.
More than that though, I can help you understand how God speaks to you and understand how to use your gift in practical ministry. I can help you grow the gift you have already been given.
The way I see my role in all this, is to connect people with God. I want to provide a safe environment where you can practice your gift.
Having a gift is not the same as operating that gift in power and maturity. And when you connect with God, you can learn to do that.
I believe that the Lord is asking me to help people like you get closer to him, and learn to:
interpret what you hear, in greater detail.
share what you receive, with confidence.
So I’m thankful for the email I received. While it challenged me to think again, it helped to crystallise my thinking on what it is the Lord has called me to.
I believe that helping others to grow their gift of prophecy is the calling he has placed on my life. I only pray for the grace to live up to it!
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