The spiritual gift of prophecy is an ability given by the Holy Spirit to some Christian believers, to receive and convey messages from God (1 Cor 12-14).
We have a God-given responsibility to develop the spiritual gifts He has invested into our lives (2 Tim 1:6,14). The gift of prophecy, as with other gifts, benefits from learning, training and practice.The Bible teaches us that the life of our local church is the main context in which we should develop and exercise our prophetic gifts (1 Cor 14).
If you would like to know how to develop your prophetic gift, here are five contexts in which you can do so, along with some ideas to help you get started:
1. Personal Development of Your Prophetic Gift (Hab 2:1-3)
- In your personal prayer times, ask God if He has a message or insight about the situation, person or group that you are praying for. In particular, pay attention to pictures, ideas, thoughts, scriptures and Bible stories that come to mind as you pray;
- Use your knowledge of the Bible as a basis for filtering out anything that is not from the Holy Spirit. Also use the Bible as your primary source for discovering the meaning of any prophetic symbolism;
- Write down your prophetic thoughts and experiences. Identifying which prophetic words have proven accurate over time can help you sharpen your gift. Documenting your prophecies can also be useful if you would like to obtain advice or feedback from a mentor or leader;
- Seek out helpful resources such as Internet training, DVDs and books that can teach you how to grow in your prophetic gift. Be careful about the teachers you choose. If you are unsure, check over teaching materials with leaders or mature Christian friends.
2. A Prophetic Mentor (1 Kings 19:19-21)
- A good mentor can help you grow in your prophetic ministry. If someone that you would like to learn from has too many commitments to take personal time for you, you can still learn from them by observing their ministry and finding practical ways to assist them;
- Check that your mentor is engaged in the life of a healthy church, is accountable to leadership and has a positive attitude about church life;
- God brings different mentors in and out of our lives for different stages of growth in our gifts. Be willing to let go of a mentoring relationship when it is time to move on. Trust God to provide new mentors as you need them.
3. Developing Your Prophetic Gift in a Small Group
- A small group environment is a great way to start activating your gift of prophecy. Here, you can step out and have a go with safe people that you trust;
- This may be a church cell, home group or one or more prayer partners. It is an important aspect of safety that your group has some form of leadership accountability;
- A safe group is one where you can try prophecy out without being afraid of getting it wrong; where you will not be judged in a negative way, but will be given helpful feedback as to whether the prophecy is meaningful;
- When you are starting out, you do not have to take an authoritative approach to delivering prophecy. You can begin a prophetic word by saying, ‘Does… mean anything to you?’ ‘I believe God is saying…’ ‘I am sensing…’ Ask if anyone else in your group can identify with what you have received.
4. Growing in Prophetic Ministry in Your Church Life (1 Cor 12-14)
- If there is a prophetic group or prayer department in your church, it will benefit you to join it or at least connect relationally with its leaders;
- Ask your pastors or leaders for guidelines as to the best way to submit a prophetic word for your church. Embrace any protocols with grace and enthusiasm. Guidelines exist to provide a safe place for both givers and recipients of prophecy (1 Cor 14:26-33);
- Pay attention to how others in your church community deliver prophetic words. Even though your contribution will be unique, observing which prophecies bring a blessing to the church and are well received can be helpful;
- If there is a prophet or prophetic speaker visiting your church, make it a priority to attend meetings where he or she will be ministering. Observing mature prophetic ministries is a great way to learn and grow in your gift.
5. Prophetic Development in the Wider Christian Community
- Look out for prophetic training sessions in your community or region. You will receive most benefit when you can practice prophecy as well as receive teaching about it;
- You may also like to attend conferences where prophetic ministry is a theme, or where a respected prophet or prophetic speaker is ministering;
- If you are attending a prophetic training course outside your church, it is a good idea to advise your leaders. This lets them know that you are serious about developing your prophetic gift. It also allows them the opportunity to ask questions or share any concerns they may have about the ministry you are attending.
Feedback is Important (1 Cor 14:29)
There is a saying that goes, ‘Feedback is the breakfast of champions.’ Feedback is vital to developing your prophetic gift. When you are starting out, you may like to share your prophecy with a mentor or leader and invite comment before you deliver it. This takes courage, but is an act of humility that will accelerate your growth in prophetic ministry. Feedback can also come by way of a response from the person or leader you have submitted a prophecy to.