Updated: Nov 13
Five tips for How to Develop More Specificity in the Gift of Prophecy
I have a wonderful lady in my life that I wish you could meet. She is one of the sweetest and most generous women I know. She loves Jesus and often spends her time in prayer on behalf of others. Over the years we have formed a special friendship, in which He has encouraged us both through the gift of prophecy.
I guess we should be used to it by now, but we still get a surprise at the unique way God does this. On several occasions, without her and I having any conversations beforehand, He has revealed to her specific thoughts, prayers, or scenarios I have experienced.
The first time this happened, my friend was almost apologetic. She was feeling uncertain about whether or not she was hearing from God so was hesitant to share it with me in case she got it wrong. The only thing was, God was giving her something. Responding to the nudge of the Holy Spirit, she wrote it down and nervously approached me one evening.
Instead of giving me the word right away, she asked me some questions. I distinctly remember them, because of what happened next.
"What have you been asking God for recently?"
At the time, we were house-hunting so I shared with her the challenges that I had been talking to the Lord about it. Just to be sure, she asked another question.
"What have you been saying to God about the house He has for you?"
I had been struggling with how to pray throughout the experience and confessed to her; "I've been told I need to name and claim what I want, but I've never been comfortable with that. I feel whatever He has for us I will be happy with because He knows what we need."
Her face lit up, but she still wanted to clarify exactly what I had been thinking.
"So, you are saying, that whatever God has for you, you will be happy with?"
When I nodded, she pulled out a letter she had written, and read out loud the words God had given her to encourage me. Not only had God told her what I had been saying in my heart, but He told her what His heart was for me.
"Don't just say, 'Anything will do' -
- be specific. Tell God what you want --
He is more generous than you think."
I'm still gobsmacked when I recall this. The truth is, I already knew this about Him, but I had not accepted He would consider my desires as well as my needs. Yet, God can, and will, do both for us.
That word inspired me to be fully honest with the Father, and it gave me a new sense of excited anticipation for the miracle He was about to do. God did provide the house we needed and it included every detail I shared with Him and more! (read the story here).
The letter is now framed and hanging on the wall where I can see it every day to remind myself of the generosity of God.
Over the years, this friend has continued to pray for me and share what God has shown her. Early on, she was unsure of herself and nervous (even though it has always been encouraging). However, recently I have noticed how much her confidence has grown. Now she brings me a word with an excited twinkle in her eye in anticipation that God is going to surprise both of us. A few weeks ago, she shared with me a prophetic picture God had shown her.
She saw me sitting on a tall chair in a cafe. I was enjoying my time and there was a sense of contentment and purpose. There was a glass of champagne with lots of bubbles and I picked it up and handed it to Jesus. Instead of taking it off me, Jesus placed his hand around mine, and the bubbles began to overflow and run everywhere. Under the table was a little boy playing and I looked down and said hello.
What she did not know, was just how spot-on that image was.
Recently, I had embarked on a personal project which I had wanted to do for a long time but had been put on hold due to other obligations. My conversations with the Lord about this had been around whether I should pursue this dream, or if it was the wrong focus of time and energy. The challenge I was signing up for was so daunting, that its success was ultimately something only He could make happen. By now, I had sensed His tick of approval. That is why, a few days earlier, I was sitting in a cafe, on a high stool, enjoying doing the deep work of editing a manuscript involving the mischievous antics of a young boy.
As I told her this, she was amazed that God would show her such a specific scene (I distinctly remember the high stool because at the time I regretted sitting in something so uncomfortable for the work I was doing ha!). The image provided a powerful connection between surrendering my talents and desires to God and His hand at work in my life (1 Corinthians 12:5-7).
The picture of celebration and that others would share in the fun, was enough for me to throw aside any lingering doubts and to go all in. I even pulled out a champagne glass we have never used, added my editing markers, and put it beside my computer to remind myself of the prophetic picture. Looking at it got me through the post-midnight hours, the brain fog, and the hurting muscles.
Because I had a vivid prophetic picture to prompt me, it meant that in the grind, I was reminded of the grace God had for me -- and I had a whole lot of fun in the process (that's a story for another time).
The gift of prophecy is a wonderful way in which God loves on us and spurs us on. I share these two stories because I believe we can all be encouraged by their message. They also exemplify how God knows our personal thoughts and cares deeply about the intimate details of our lives.
As we offer ourselves to be a messenger of hope, we will discover God will give us images and words that speak into people's personal circumstances at just the right time. The more we develop this gift, the more specific those details can become, making the moment even more special for both you and the one you are sharing with.
Here are five quick tips I have learned from my friend for how we can develop more specificity in the gift of prophecy, and go from sketchy to spot-on.
1. Secret things are discovered in the secret place
"When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." - Matthew 6:6
I believe the secret to the specificity of my friend's prophetic images is because she meets with God in the secret place. She spends quality time with Him, worshipping, praying, and listening. As a result, she has grown sensitive to the familiar presence of the Holy Spirit.
God will entrust us with the secrets of other people's hearts when we demonstrate humility in our own. The reward of prayer is the privilege of God revealing his heart and mind to us, and sometimes, He will reveal hidden things about others too.
2. Asking for a friend
"The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law." Deuteronomy 29:29
My friend's love for Jesus fills her with a love for others, which prompts her to ask Him for words of encouragement to share with them. Therefore, when she prays, God reveals to her secret or personal things about other people, not to expose their shame, but to excite their faith.
If you are eager to prophesy, your default motivation should always be to encourage people to wholeheartedly pursue God's will, in whatever they put their hand to.
In response to my own prayer for direction, and because she was listening on my behalf, the Lord showed her specific details of my thoughts and activities to:
1. demonstrate His love for me but also
2. to confirm His plans for me at that time
3. Sharpen your questions
"Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—" - Proverbs 1:5
Whenever my friend shared with me the pictures she received for me, she would often say, "I asked the Lord, what does this mean?" She would question each scene she saw and ask for wisdom to understand it. This is the work of the Holy Spirit as we dialogue with Him and He responds.
When we receive a prophetic image or word for someone, we can ask God for wisdom and discernment to know what specific details we should be paying attention to. To discern what is most relevant, consider what are the key features or themes from the images that stand out.
What is unique about the setting?
What emotion does the scene invoke?
Who is involved?
What meaningful actions are taking place?
These general features can all provide hints, or context, while the specific details may holler at us the point God is making.
For example, it was easy to understand the glass of bubbles represented celebration (it was a quick 'yes and amen' to that, thank you, Jesus!). Aside from this obvious symbolism, the rest of the imagery formed a general vibe that 'seemed good' (learn more about this here). However, when she shared the specific details of the boy, God hollered at me. It directly connected my project with His promise.
4. Practice doesn't require it to be perfect
"Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears." - 1 Corinthians 13:8-10
At first, my friend was completely puzzled by the little boy (we joked about a conversation a long time ago about adding a son to our family of three girls). She could have left out the detail about the boy as it didn't make sense to her, but then I would have missed out on a clear directive. God can often give us prophetic pictures that have little or no meaning to us but have clear and specific significance to the person it is intended for.
If we over-analyze the prophetic pictures we receive before we share them, we're going to risk adding a complexity that wasn't there. Or, in the example of the first scenario, our insecurities about our limited understanding cause us to hesitate and hold back.
Conversely, when we make peace with the fact that we only know 'in part', we can step out in faith with the details we do have and trust that the Holy Spirit loves them enough to help them make sense (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Then we find all the parts come together, we can recognise the context, and the message becomes more complete.
5. God is more generous than you think
"I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart...Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for..." 1 Kings 3:12-14
As I have observed my friend apply the principles I have outlined above, I have seen her develop greater clarity in the prophetic images she receives and an increase in the number of specific details she is given. She has been faithful to use the little she has received, and so God has entrusted her with more. In fact, she is so eager, that we noticed it is now quite common for God to give her at least three pictures for me every time, each one complementing the other!
With each fresh insight or image, and every conversation you have with the Lord about what is and isn't him, what is and isn't significant, and what is and isn't the message, you will begin to sharpen your prophetic gift. He will grow your discernment and give you greater wisdom so that you can bless others. And in the process, you can expect to find yourself blessed too -- because He is more generous than you think.
And that's the point, it's not about knowledge, it's about demonstrating God's devotion and love.
Definitely worth celebrating don't you think?
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* All Scripture is quoted from the NIV translation unless otherwise noted.