What does it look like to be a prophetic person? Is it really just about getting ‘words of knowledge’ on a Sunday and being part of the prophetic team at church? Is it merely for a few ‘mystical’ Christians, or is it for all of us?
These questions have stirred in me since I was a baby Christian. In my journey so far—from not believing the prophetic was for me in the early days to becoming the prophetic pastor in my church—I’ve tried to unravel some of the confusion.
It’s ironic that I didn’t believe I was a prophetic person because it was through a series of prophetic dreams that I met God. But back then I didn’t see that these dreams were prophetic. For me, these were the type of dreams I’d had since I was a kid. What I saw modelled in church as ‘prophetic’ was usually someone standing on stage at a Sunday service either singing a prophetic song (which most definitely wasn’t me) or sharing a ‘picture’ they’d just had. They would say that God had just spoken to them about this or that which just reaffirmed the fact that I’d not ‘heard’ God speak to me. So I just figured that prophecy was for the elite few, and I just wasn’t one of them.
Since then I’ve realized two big things
- The spiritual gift of prophecy is for everyone in the church, and
- The prophetic is written in every Christian’s DNA
The majority of teaching on the prophetic I’ve encountered on the prophetic has been on point number 1. It’s been brilliant to see some excellent teaching and equipping modelled in recent years, showing people they too can hear from God. Understanding that God speaks in a number of ways has brought much freedom to people who, like me, counted themselves out.
But little has been taught on what it means to be a prophetic people. This is about our identity and not our gift. It’s a profound understanding of who we are and a significant revelation of the powerful potential of this, if lived out.
In my opinion, we can’t afford to explore the meaning and use of the gifts of the Spirit without understanding who we are as Christians. The gifts are our tools to do the job and we’d be unwise not to use them. But the tools themselves do not make us who we are in the same way a stethoscope doesn’t make you a doctor. Focusing only on the gift of prophecy and overlooking our identity as prophetic people is putting the cart before the horse. As much as I love the gift of prophecy and am so grateful to the Holy Spirit for giving it to us, in this series, I hope to take a step back and unpack what I believe it means to be God’s prophetic people.
If we are wanting to know what it looks like to be a prophetic person it’s probably best to look at some examples in the bible. Moses is my favourite Old Testament example of a prophetic person, and who better to study than Jesus in the New Testament.
Moses was a prophetic person. He had a relationship with God that was beyond his time which allowed him not only to ‘prophesy’ but embody the prophetic. In his prophetic calling he brought his people from Egypt (slavery) and led them into the promised land. Through his friendship with God he was able ‘see’ where his people shouldn’t be and ‘see’ where they needed to be. The miraculous power demonstrated throughout his life backed up his journey within the prophetic.
Jesus was prophetic. As well as operating in the gift of prophecy (like when he met the woman at the well) his life was prophetic. His whole ministry was a signpost to the Father and the Father’s world. He came to get people out of darkness; oppression, sickness, poverty, hurt, fear, and lead them to another reality, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven’.
For both Moses and Jesus there was a common theme and a key ingredient to their prophetic lifestyle.
They both led people ‘out of ‘ the bad place (slavery/sin) and into the good place (promised land/Kingdom of Heaven). The key ingredient that enabled them to live like this was that they both had friendship and intimacy with God.
This is why all Christians are able to be prophetic people.
Matt Redman puts it brilliantly in his song ‘Thank You For the Blood’
You have opened the way to the Father, Where before we could never have come.
The cross changed everything. Intimacy and friendship with God are now available to everyone.
It’s in this place of ‘hanging out’ with the Trinity where we become prophetic people; visionary leaders, signposts, sons and daughters of God who start reproducing the life of Jesus by calling people out of darkness and inspiring them ‘into’ Heaven’s Kingdom. The more we spend time with Him, the more we internalise His heart on what’s wrong and get revelation on what solutions to bring.
Out of Egypt
For a prophetic person there will be times where they see and feel the burden of an Egypt. These are issues of slavery, places of darkness and episodes of oppression. This level of the prophetic nature exists in Christians and non-Christians alike. This fact shouldn’t baffle us—we’re all made in the image of God, and even though some don’t know Him they will and can carry His heart. However, Christians exposed to God in friendship and thrust into His presence by being born again should get a bigger dose of this than those who don’t know Him. We have people all over the world right now who are inwardly and outwardly shouting to the strongholds of evil Let my people go!
Medical scientists relentlessly looking for cures for cancer and other diseases, politicians working at ways to better run society, campaigners courageously opposing the world’s injustices, youth workers changing the predictable future of kids on working class estates—the list goes on and on.
These are people who have ‘seen’ what’s not right.
Both Moses and Jesus did have this as part of their ministry: an acute discernment of what was imprisoning their people. But it didn’t stop there—they both had a vision and a demonstration for their people of what hope looks like. For Moses it was the promised land and for Jesus it was The Kingdom of Heaven (which He constantly affirmed was at hand).
As much as it’s vital we see where people shouldn’t be, to be fully active as a prophetic person we need to come up-close and personal with God, finding out the details of His heavenly Kingdom so we can administer it on Earth.
Milk and Honey Dreaming
About a year ago I remember having a conversation with Chris (my husband) about his work. Chris is a designer, writer and entrepreneur. We were in the kitchen talking about some of his frustrations regarding design work. Through the conversation we hit a bit of revelation. Jokingly I asked him, if there was a hero of his in his field that he could spend a couple of hours with, picking their brain, who would it be? Immediately he said Jony Ives (designer at Apple) and expanded by saying how awesome that would be. Inspired by the Holy Spirit (because it was not in my thinking), I said Well you know that God’s a better designer than Johnathan Ives and you can spend as much time as you want with Him. For both of us in that moment we ‘grasped’ a bit of knowledge—the wonder of what was at our fingertips in being sons and daughters of God—an intimacy that allows us access to a God who was the expert, the hero in whatever field we were passionate in.
Since then in our prayer times we pray for specific insight, knowledge, wisdom, ideas and innovation for the things that Chris and I are working on. And boy do we notice the difference.
This is ‘milk and honey’ dreaming with God—it’s understanding that God is wanting to partner with us in our activities on Earth. It’s asking Him for His plans, strategy, inventions, cures, solutions and so on, so that we can be a people who bring them on Earth as they exist in Heaven.
This isn’t clever thinking, it’s about friendship with a clever God.
Imagine all those people
I know there are pockets of the church that are moving in this part of their identity in a strong way. But I find it irresistible not to dream of the whole church coming into this part of their destiny. Millions of Christians fully accessing their privileges with God; forcing satan’s deeds to retire and God’s Kingdom released in the most unusual and innovative ways. I think the church is going to be turned inside out when people grasp the power of this. Our influence isn’t about a Sunday meeting, but about the disciples dispersed into society, fully charged with God’s supernatural answers. What an impact that would make!