We've been talking about different kinds of prayer to help you find your prayer strengths. This week's focus is Prophetic Prayer. (I understand this prayer type may raise some eyebrows, but please hang with us.)
Several years ago I’m in a worship service when I get the feeling that God may want to communicate to me about someone in the room. It's a man I don't know.
I close my eyes and what do I see? A chubby beaver, furry with buck teeth, brown matted fur, and a spatula-like tail. I chuckle and open my eyes, then refocus and whisper, “God, I’m listening. Let’s try this again.”
I close my eyes and continue to worship the LORD. The sensation returns—warmth of spirit, feeling of home, God near. I feel the familiar urge that God wants to speak. I plant myself there. A picture comes into focus, the beaver again.
But this time I ask God what this means. He shows me. I ask Him what that means. He shows me more. It goes on like this until I feel a release, like our business is done. A lot has happened, but only a few minutes have passed.
The songs end and I introduce myself to this stranger. I feel embarrassed to tell him what I saw, but I want to be faithful, so I do.
He says, “That’s a good word,” and goes on to explain that he’s an architect. He builds things for a living (Beavers build things too). But the word is not so much about his job as it is about his family. This man has been spending too much time at work and his family is suffering. He has a wife and six kids, and he’s not the husband and father he wants to be.
“God’s been speaking to me about building more into my family,” he says. “But I haven’t listened, Thank you.”
When my wife was washing dishes after dinner, she sensed God impressing something on her heart.
She should buy flowers for someone—and it had to be that night. Flowers tonight, for whom? She didn’t know, she just knew it had to be then.
Colette left her dishes in the sink and drove to the flower store. Once inside, she thought God wanted her to buy three roses and a card. As Colette paid for them, a particular neighbor came to mind. She hadn’t seen her in a while, but yes, Colette felt very strongly the flowers were for her.
Colette sat inside the car, deciding what to write on the card. She asked God for a message and what she heard was, “I’m well pleased with you,” so she wrote that on the card. Then she drove to the neighbor’s house to deliver the goods.
The neighbor opened the door and Colette handed her the roses and card. Visibly surprised, the neighbor said thank you and quickly shut the door. Wait, there were so many questions. Why flowers? Why her? Why tonight?
But there would be no answers, just dirty dishes and hardened grease waiting at home.
However, a few days later, Colette saw the neighbor. She clutched Colette’s hands while tears dropped from her eyes. She told her story.
Just recently, her husband walked out on her after twenty years of marriage. For the first time in years, she was alone. But God had not forgotten her.
He sent flowers and a card. And the best part? It was that night because that night was her wedding anniversary. She would not be getting roses from her husband, so God sent her roses instead.
Prophetic prayer is receiving a message from God for someone else. God chooses to speak a message to a messenger, for the purpose of the message being delivered to the recipient.
The messenger is the one hearing the message, and the recipient is the one to whom the message is intended. Once the recipient hears the message, it's important for him to test and judge it.
An example of someone who practiced prophetic prayer is Jeremiah. For example, Jeremiah 1:7 says, "But the Lord said to me, 'Do not say, "I am too young." You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.'"
Jeremiah was a prophet, which is a different position than many of us today. However, prophetic prayer appears in the New Testament as a type of prayer to be practiced today to encourage and build up one another.
In fact, the language used by the Apostle Paul is pretty strong: "Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy." (1 Cor 14:1)
But this seems like a foolhardy mission. God is trusting humans to deliver his words. What if we get it wrong? Why would God use prophetic prayer?
Here are ten reasons why:
A prophetic message should not contradict the Bible. If it does, I doubt the veracity of the prophetic word. Instead, prophecy is meant to confirm God’s word. God has more to say than is contained in the Bible. He might want you to start a petting zoo, but nowhere in the Bible does God tell you to start a petting zoo. So he speaks it extra-biblically, and then you pray. You realize it’s biblical to create a place for kids to enjoy what God has made. You bring in some llamas to start.
God’s voice thunders and wakes us from our stupor. Suddenly God has our attention. We didn’t know how to listen. Or we were just plain busy. But God crashes through the humming of our thumbing on the desk. He has much to say. So much in fact, that He can’t wait for us to tune our ears. He reaches out to messengers so we’ll hear.
The Church is a collection of many members, a Body. The Holy Spirit has given different gifts to each member. Only when each member functions in his or her gifts can the Body function as a whole. This is to say, we need each other for the complete set. Prophecy is one of these gifts. So when it’s absent, the Body is malformed. When it’s present, the Body has its part.
The Church is a Body, and there is no room for lone cowboys. No man has every gift of the Spirit and no woman the complete wisdom of God. No man has experienced all God has to offer, no woman has God in her pocket. We’re in this together, fellow sojourners on the road to glory. If we try to stand alone, we shut off means of God’s voice. But prophecy reminds us we that we need each other.
Some say God is dead, a fabrication of man to feel better about himself. Others say He exists but stepped away, a clockmaker who wound up his clock and let it tick. But prophecy proves that God is alive and involved, the Four Act Story told throughout time. He spoke the world into existence (creation).
He pronounced judgment when it sinned (fall). He sent the divine message into the world, who is Jesus (redemption). He said He makes all things new (restoration). Weaving these four acts together is the God who communicates. He speaks these acts into our days.
When God shares a word for someone else, the first question is, “What now?” Sometimes the next step is to share it. But sometimes the next step is to pray it. In this way, prophecy trains us in intercession. We begin with no clue what to pray, but then God speaks, and suddenly we’ve been given the will of God. We begin to pray what was revealed, and we find we are praying God’s heart.
The Bible says that love trumps prophecy. Not only is love superior to any spiritual gift, it is also the foundation for moving in spiritual gifts. So is humility. The object is to serve. It’s not to show how spiritual we are or that we’re God’s best friend.
Prophecy causes us to examine our motives. Do we manufacture a word from God to gain favor with the recipient? Do we share instead of pray to impress others? Are we trying to prove our usefulness to the Body?
God is all-powerful, but He chooses to partner with humanity. This is one of the mind-defying principles of God. God accomplishes His will through the obedience of creation. Problem is, we’re not always obedient. Whether by defiance or ignorance, we prefer our own ways. God knows this, but He partners with us anyway. Prophecy follows the principle of partnership.
When God speaks, either directly or through someone else, it deepens the relationship. This is another principle of God. He desires a close relationship. When I have been the messenger or the recipient, it reminds me that I’m on God’s mind. He’s not too busy to think about me or his schedule too crowded to make time. I’m on God’s heart and He wants me to know it. And further, He has great plans and is working them out.
Expecting God to speak is part of practicing God’s presence. To practice God’s presence is to walk deliberately with God. It’s to go through our day aware of God. It’s to make choices that honor God. It’s to do our best not to dishonor Him. Whether in the church lobby or at a churro stand, in private time or the public square, God’s voice comes calling. And when it does, God is near.
No wonder God is so insistent upon using prophecy. It’s a means of relationship. It’s a means of building the Body. It’s a means of accomplishing His plans. Several times in the Bible God says to be eager to prophesy. So let’s be eager.
What is the definition of prophetic prayer?
What did God tell Jeremiah in order to reassure him?
Do you think God speaks to you? In what ways?
Has God ever given you a message for someone else?
As anyone ever given you a message from God?
Which of the ten reasons do you most resonate with?