I’m the sort of person who loves getting to the bottom of things. I enjoy unpacking concepts and ideas and finding the fundamentals of an issue. So it’s good to reflect on what is actually going on when God speaks to us, and what our posture should be to fully enter into the impact of God’s voice. At the heart of our prophetic experiences is, I believe, something I term the ‘prophetic process’.
You see, there is a tendency in charismatic circles to focus on the delivery of the prophetic word: that’s what we get excited about. The prophet coming and telling us whatever it is that God wants to communicate to us. The prophetic event.
But a mature prophetic culture requires something much deeper and, to be honest, something much more time-consuming: a process in which we sit with the revelation, we discern the interpretation, and we embrace the application.
Let’s remind ourselves of the potential for transformation that comes with God’s spoken word to us:
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
God speaks. His word goes forth. And in that moment is contained unimaginable potential for transformation and fruitfulness.
I love that fact that God is the Great Communicator: he talks to his people very often, and one of the joys of being a disciple of Jesus is learning to tune into his voice. But we mustn’t forget that there is something profoundly intentional about his words to us. They are never random or accidental. God always speaks for a purpose.
We may be very good at hearing God, but if we don’t engage properly with what he’s saying and respond with obedience we will waste the full potential of his spoken word to us.
To fully engage with the intentionality of God’s words to us, and to embrace the transformation he intends them to achieve, we need to understand the three vital parts of the prophetic process:
- Tuning in: recognising and receiving revelation from God. It’s good, if possible, to make space to fully dwell in the revelation for a while. It should be a relational, not functional, experience.
- Discerning: unpacking the revelation (whether it’s a prophetic picture, word or dream) and working out the essence of what God is actually saying to us through it.
- Responding: working out the application and what it looks like to walk in obedience. “If this is what Jesus is saying to me, what am I going to do about it?”
This process is necessary regardless of what God might be saying to us. With everything from hearing him say, “I love you”, to hearing him for the future direction of our church, or how he wants us to combat homelessness in our city, this process enables us to align our lives with his heart and intention for us.
To be mature practitioners of prophecy we need to take hold of each of the three parts separately. We need to encounter the Holy Spirit in each part of the process, and involve our faith communities as we walk it out. And as we dig deep into each of the three parts we will come face to face with both lament (things need to change!) and hope (God is able!).
I’m going to look at each part of the process in turn over some future blogs, but in the meantime I’d invite you to consider one or two significant words that God has given to you for you recently and reflect on to what extent you have really taken hold of them. Are you seeing the full measure of transformation and fruitfulness that God has intended for these words he has spoken to you? If not, which part of the prophetic process needs some more attention?