From the desk of Steve Shultz:
Stan Smith writes a hands-on prophetic teaching below. It's full of prophetic exercises and suggestions. You will learn much from reading it and get activated too.
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How to Be Prophetic – Without Being a Tyrant or a Rebel
There are many ways to flow in prophetic gifting without being in full-time ministry, and without having to be recognized first as a prophet. Here is a list of ways to be a blessing at work, with your family, in evangelistic outreaches, in your church, and in worship.
We become tyrants when we use a prophetic gifting (or anything else) to try to take dominion over other people. In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus said the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him to set captives free and to open prison doors. Any prophetic ministry that adds to peoples' bondage and makes them dependent (which is another word for "captive") on you is grossly misdirected. Healthy ministry will cherish not just our own freedom, but the spiritual liberty of every child of God.
We become rebels when we undermine or bypass the authority God has already placed in the church. God has not anointed us to tell the pastor what his vision ought to be, or to define how the church should operate. But if you are encouraging the discouraged, giving hope to the hopeless, refreshing those who are weary with well doing, and bringing the lost under conviction, you will be a blessing to your church – and these are the works of Jesus Himself. As the last line of 1 Corinthians 14:26 says, "Let all things be done unto edifi[cation]."
1. Expect God to Give You Prophetic Creativity at Work
• Pray for God to show you innovations.
• Daniel and his three friends moved in prophetic wisdom in the kingdom of Babylon; Joseph moved in prophetic wisdom in Egypt. In each case, the prophetic gift of interpreting dreams augmented their excellent work habits.
• God is infinitely creative. If we are willing to maintain an "excellent spirit" (Daniel 5:12) and to work hard in our profession, God wants to give ideas to His people.
2. Expect God to Give Words of Knowledge for People Problems at Work
• God is a "very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1), and this includes people problems. Paul's letters are an example: much of what he wrote was addressed to specific people problems in the churches where he had ministered. God is interested in giving wisdom in our dealings with people.
• Elisha was often aware of enemy battle plans. Jesus frequently "answered their thoughts" when dealing with religious leaders.
• Caution: Avoid using a word of knowledge to grasp for speedy promotion or to manipulate people. By a word of knowledge, careers can be saved, conflicts stopped, and hidden talents brought to light.
3. Take Time to Pray Prayers of Blessing Over Family Members. Sow Honor and Appreciation into Family Members, Expecting God to Add Words of Knowledge From Time to Time
• Bless your spouse. Day-to-day life creates many stresses that can bring out the worst in a marriage. It will re-energize your household if you take time to bless your spouse in prayer. This is not a time for correction or faultfinding, but it is an opportunity to confirm God-given gifts, talents, and strengths. If your children are present during these times of prayer, it will help reinforce their ability to honor mother and father.
• Bless your children. By faith Isaac blessed his two sons, and by faith Jacob blessed his twelve sons and the sons of Joseph (Hebrews 11:20-21). Pray for God's blessing on your children, and let them hear you do it. Be careful not to use the prayers to manipulate them. Trust God to help you see your children as He sees them and to confirm their God-given destiny.
• Bless your parents, even if they are unsaved, if you are estranged from them, or they are no longer alive. Whatever their faults, they are the people God used to bring you into the world. Your blessing them will help unlock your God's purpose for your own life.
4. Trust God for Prophetic Direction as Your Family Prays Together
• James 1:5-8 says we can receive wisdom if we ask. God wants to direct us in everyday affairs. There is no better way to teach children to hear God's voice than to include them in the process of family decision making, seeking God together for direction.
• "Wisdom has built her house" (Proverbs 9:1). Wisdom builds a house with godliness, wholesome relationships, and appropriate financial choices. Here are several ways prophetic wisdom can build up your family:
1) Protection: Joseph and Mary were warned in a dream to take baby Jesus to Egypt until Herod died. Noah's prophetic insight saved his sons and their wives from the flood.
2) Understanding: Rebekah understood Jacob's destiny because she had heard from God; Isaac did not.
3) Sensitivity: Ephesians 6:4 tells fathers not to provoke or discourage their children. This may require prophetic insight. Each child is different. Parents need the Holy Spirit to reveal the keys to a child's heart. And this same principle can work in every other family relationship.
• The wisdom that comes from God is pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Carefully read James 3:13-18, and ask God to deliver you from earthly wisdom. God's wisdom will build healthy relationships.
5. Participate in Evangelistic Outreaches Conducted by Your Church
• Trust God to give you words of knowledge as you minister to the lost. This was Jesus' favorite means of prophetic ministry. Nathaniel became a disciple through word of knowledge. The woman at the well sparked a revival in Samaria because Jesus told her all she had done. Zacchaeus became a new man because Jesus discerned what was going on in his life.
• Trust God for discerning of spirits as you minister to the lost:
1) Discerning demonic powers: In a street witnessing situation, demonic people can use up all your time and energy with arguments or appeals for help. Jesus warned us not to cast pearls before swine. We need to use the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome demonic opposition, either by getting people delivered or by neutralizing their attempts to sidetrack an evangelistic effort.
2) Discerning the Holy Spirit: We can become skilled at identifying the person who is under conviction already, and spending our time with him or her. We can learn to follow the Holy Spirit in our conversations with the unsaved, not trying to hustle them through "saying the sinner's prayer" but truly making room for the Holy Spirit to do a solid work of conviction and conversion.
• Don't try to overpower or impress the lost. Love them. People don't care how powerful or holy you are. The goal is to get them to notice Jesus, not you. If God does something powerful through you, downplay your importance and turn people's attention to how willing God is to work in their lives.
6. Form a Triad – A Prayer and Visitation Ministry
• What is a triad? A triad is a group of three Christians who agree to pray for three people each a day (nine people total) and to spend an hour a week with one of three unsaved/unchurched people. Here's how it works:
1) Each of the three Christians prayerfully selects three unsaved/unchurched people for prayer and outreach. The key is to select not the three people we most want to minister to, but three people God is already working on.
2) The three Christians each put their three people on the prayer list. This means each of the three Christians will pray for nine people daily.
3) Each of the three Christians agrees to spend at least an hour a week with one of his/her three people. This does not have to be an hour at a time; it may mean several visits of ten or fifteen minutes each. It's not necessary to preach to them. It's enough to be with them, and to be available to them when God begins to stir them to ask questions, etc.
4) If you are in a triad, you will be spending time with three unsaved people and praying for nine. Two other people will be praying for your three people every day.
• Your prayers can become prophetic as you pray for the nine people. God will give you insights into their character, their needs, their dreams, and their pressures.
• God will give you word of knowledge as you talk to the unsaved. He may lead you to pray with them or to exhort them. He may use you in word of knowledge when you don't even know it's happening. If Jesus lives in you, it's only natural for Him to speak through you.
7. Invite Someone Over for Dinner Once a Week (see what was written about the triad above) – It's Natural for God to Use You in Prophetic Prayer and Word of Knowledge as You Relate to Them
• Ask God to show you who to invite. God can lead you to invite people who are hungry for more of Him.
• Pray for them during the week and before they visit. If you pray for someone every day for several days, you are likely to hear something from God sooner or later. Don't try to come up with a dazzling prophetic insight in the beginning – like the name of a favorite uncle or a description of the house they lived in as a child. Start by looking for a Scriptural blessing you can pray over them. Trust God to lead you to something that will be meaningful to them.
• Take time to pray with them after the meal if they are willing to be prayed for. If you pray something Scriptural, you can't possibly misdirect them.
8. Use Your Prophetic Gift in Church Services. This Refers Not to Personal Prophecy, But to a Prophecy Given During a Meeting
• The gift of prophecy should edify, exhort, or comfort. To edify is to build up; therefore, it is not your job to tear down people or leaders. To exhort is to stir up; therefore, a true prophetic gifting will stir up and release grace for things like worship, first love, prayer, or evangelism. To comfort is to lift up; therefore, true prophecy will encourage and honor the people of God. If the Blood of Jesus has washed us, God is no longer angry at the Church – period. A harsh or angry tone in a prophecy reflects not the heart of God but the heart of the person prophesying.
• The gift of prophecy adds a spiritual dynamic to the meeting. A prophetic word can release the anointing, build faith, and energize the congregation. Pray for prophetic words that will charge the atmosphere of the meetings you are in.
• Don't bypass protocol, wherever you are. There is a time and place for prophecy. Some groups have guidelines for how a prophecy should be given – using a particular microphone, submitting a word to an elder before giving it, etc. It is important to honor their sense of order.
Each group has its different traditions and styles. Some groups prophesy loudly; others are low-key. Some groups use modern English, some use King James. Some groups say "Thus says the Lord," and others don't. Use judgment in these matters. Generally, if your style is a shock to the people you minister to, they won't hear what you say. Try to adapt your style to what they are most likely to be able to hear.
9. Participate in Ministry Times and Altar Calls in Your Church
• Prepare for ministry times by spending time with God between services. You don't know who you will minister to next week, but God does. Ask God to prepare your heart. Follow God wherever He leads in prayer.
• Let God watch over His word to perform it. Don't tie your ego to the prophetic words God releases through you. It is not your job to make them come to pass or to follow up with people to make sure they act on your revelation. Give what God gives you and then let go.
• Minister in a way that will encourage others who are ministering with you. Your prophetic gift is designed to help others get into their inheritance, not just to get you into yours. God may give you a fragment that serves as a catalyst to release someone else into a more dynamic prophetic word. God may move you to curtail your own gift at times to make room for others to speak up.
10. If You Are Asked to Teach a Class, Trust God for a Prophetic Edge on Your Teaching and a Flow of Words of Knowledge
• You can preach or teach prophetically because Jesus will speak through you. You may or may not use notes, but the prophetic Spirit can move in your teaching. The reason is simple: Jesus lives in you, knows who will be listening, and wants to speak to them. Give God permission and room to speak through you.
• Prophetic preaching or teaching leaves room for spontaneity. Not everything has to be spontaneous, but some things will be. If you ask God to have His way when you speak, don't be surprised if last minute thoughts occur to you. At the same time, don't be so spontaneous that you lose your focus. If your teaching wanders all over the place, people will be confused. The right blend of preparation and spontaneity will get people excited about the word you teach.
• The examples you use can turn out to be words of knowledge. Some of the stories you use to illustrate what you are teaching will turn out to be words of knowledge. This can occur without any great departure from the general outline you may have prepared.
11. Trust God for a Flow of His Song Through You in Prophetic Worship
• Jesus will sing to the Father through you, offering worship in Spirit and truth (Hebrews 2:12). This can happen at home, in the car or at church. Begin to release the testimony of Jesus to the Father in worship and praise. As you sing to God, expect song to flow spontaneously from Christ who dwells in your heart:
1) Sing in tongues, and expect an interpretation.
2) Sing to the Father about who He has revealed Himself to be in your own life, in Scripture, in Christ.
3) Sing to God about what He has been speaking to you in the last few days.
• Prophetic worship transcends style. Most of us have a favorite style, but don't expect God to confine Himself to it. One season in your life may call for militant praise and another may call for reflective music. One season may require dancing, another may call for stillness. There is a time and place for each.
• Prophetic worship is more than just music. God is interested more in the quality of your heart than in the quality of your music. Sometimes a simple style will best allow you to release your heart to God. This is especially hard for musicians; musicians want to be proud of their music. But remember that God gives grace to the humble and resists the proud. Treasure the flow of the Spirit, not musical excellence.
12. Cultivate a Prophetic Sense of Teamwork Among the Musicians
• The anointing is more important than performance. If you are a prophetic musician, you need to become skilled in as many styles as possible. You have no way of knowing what style will best express the heart of God in a meeting. David wrote in Psalm 33:3, "Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy."
Once you have developed the ability to play skillfully, put your skill on the altar. In one meeting God may use very little of your skill, giving you an embarrassingly simple song. In the next meeting, He may anoint your music and enable you to play things you've never been able to play before. In either case, the important thing is to maintain a sense of humility and to keep Jesus, not our musical ability, at the center of attention.
• Defer to one another. There is a vast difference between a melody birthed from Heaven and a melody borne of fleshly talent. As you learn to discern the difference in your own life, pay attention to the anointing in the lives of others. On a worship team, when you sense that God has given something to someone else, do whatever you can to back them up and to make room for them to be in the limelight. This may mean you need to play a gentle accompaniment; it may mean you need to stop playing for a few moments. Whatever you do, be a servant to the person God has most anointed, and a servant to the congregation.
• Let the music die down to a lull from time to time, so God can give fresh inspiration. People sometimes imagine the anointing level is meant to go up, up, up without a break. But sometimes human energy takes over, and what began in the Spirit ends in the flesh.
Perhaps this is what David meant with the "selahs" in the Psalms; scholars have agreed that a selah is a pause of some sort. When you sense the anointing is getting lost, back off and take a posture of waiting on God. Trust Him for fresh inspiration. Often, a pause at the right moment can help the congregation shift into a purer and clearer flow of the Spirit.
Stan and JoAnn Smith have ministered together ever since their marriage eleven years ago. Stan had already spent four years as a teacher and 17 years as a pastor, but whatever he did in ministry always had a prophetic flavor: teaching, spontaneous song on guitar or keyboard, and flowing in the gifts of the Spirit. JoAnn began to step up with Stan when he would minister, and began to flow with him in the Word and in the gifts. Stan has been traveling in ministry for the last 12 years; often JoAnn accompanied him both in the United States and overseas.
In early 2010, it suddenly became impossible for Stan to travel: he was diagnosed with a stage 4 cancerous brain tumor. After emergency surgery, he went through radiation and chemo. About a week before the crisis began, Jesus spoke to Stan, warning that part of his life was about to be pruned, but Stan was to focus on abiding in Christ; more fruit was sure to follow. So Stan's healing strategy has been surrender, soaking, abiding.
The doctors consider it a miracle that he is still able to write, to preach, and to play spontaneous music. After the surgery he had, several marvel that he's a functioning human being at all. Since then, Stan and JoAnn have stayed busy. He has begun recording soaking music in a rich prophetic flow at home. Stan has also created a 31-day devotional, "Learn To Hear From God." Stan and JoAnn have filmed several programs that will soon be available. And he has been working with JoAnn to finish a book-length version of her testimony, Mind Lost, Mind Found. As doors open for JoAnn to share her testimony, she will travel as needed.