Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
You are in possession of some remarkable prophetic gifts.
The New Testament makes it clear that our good and generous Father is the great gift-giver and, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all God’s people, revelatory gifts are available to all. The beautiful gift of prophecy is accessible to every disciple of Jesus: it’s certainly not something reserved for the prophets. We all have the potential to take hold of this gift by faith and move powerfully in the prophetic for the encouragement and strengthening of everyone.
But it seems to me that many of us, for whatever reason, fail to properly step into this potential. Perhaps another way of putting it is that we don’t always do a great job of stewarding the gifts that God has freely given us through his Spirit.
In this blog I want to touch on one particular area of stewarding prophetic gifts. This is the area of spiritual disciplines and how getting the right ones in place can open the door in all sorts of incredible ways to an authentic prophetic lifestyle.
Train yourself for godliness… 1 Timothy 4:7
By spiritual disciplines I mean the regular habits that we put in place to help us stay connected to God, which usually include things like Bible reading, prayer, worship, contemplation and listening. These disciplines provide devotional pathways for us: patterns we can build into our day-to-day lives that draw us back to the reality of being immersed in the sacred presence of God’s light and love. The right disciplines keep us spiritually healthy and help us avoid complacency: they nurture our desire for God, allowing us to be captivated by the divine beauty and maintain our awareness of his nearness.
A healthy prophetic culture is one that recognises that although God is always with us, there are certain patterns and rhythms that help develop attentiveness to his presence and openness to his voice.
Spiritual disciplines help us stay attentive to God’s voice day by day. In fact getting the right spiritual patterns and disciplines in place is one very important way in which we can steward the prophetic gifts that God has given us.
Now, some of us find routine something of a challenge. It can be difficult, first of all, to find the daily disciplines that work for us. And secondly, to stick to them.
But this is why having a conversation with God about them can make all the difference.
In my previous blog I wrote about seeking God for a word – the word – for the year ahead. Which is a life-giving and discipleship-enhancing practice that we can all do. But equally important I believe is asking God for what the pattern of our spiritual disciplines should be throughout 2021.
If one of your goals for this year is to hear God more clearly, then it follows that you need to build the right patterns and habits into your life to best facilitate this. Many of us are only scratching the surface of the prophetic because of busyness, hurry and distraction. Revelatory gifts need to be carefully nurtured and attended to. After all – those of you who have run a marathon will know that without months of regular, disciplined, scheduled training, there is no way you would be able to complete those 26 plus miles on the day of the event.
Very few of us these days live in a monastery with the provision of regular times of prayer throughout the day (and night!) So we need to be proactive and intentional about getting the right patterns in place.
What I’ve learnt over the years is that if I ask God to help me with spiritual disciples he will faithfully lead me to the right ones for any particular period of time. We need to remember that one size does not fit all: we can’t prescribe identikit disciplines to every Christian, because we’re all different. Those of us who grew up with the evangelical concept of the daily ‘quiet time’ may need to start thinking outside the box and be open to new and creative ways for maintaining attentiveness to God.
These may be disciplines, but they are there to be life-giving and to feed our souls. They are not a task, a mechanical exercise; they are not something to fail at. Rather, God wants to meet us and speak to us through them according to the way he made us.
Here’s an example: one really simple daily discipline I’m doing over winter is to light a candle at 4pm and spend a few minutes sitting in God’s presence and meditating on Jesus being the Light of the World. I’m finding that this habit is regularly opening the door to fresh revelation.
So my challenge to you is to ask God for specifics. He has created each one of us and knows us perfectly. And he knows what particular routines and rhythms are going to work best for us. This time of year is the ideal time to be seeking God for this detailed information.
- What daily disciplines are going to keep you rooted and grounded in the scriptures?
- What daily habits are going to create the space for you to hear God in a deeper way?
- What daily schedule is going to keep you centred on the presence of God and filled with the Spirit?
As God starts to answer these questions for you, and a plan emerges, I recommend that you find at least one person to share it with who can pray for you and hold you accountable.