By Elaina Ayala
It was 2008 and I was a brand new Christian. My life had just changed dramatically as a born-again believer, and in many areas, I was learning to walk again. On top of that, I was now having all sorts of spiritual experiences with God that I couldn’t quite put language on.
For instance, on any given day, I might have a strong feeling about a future situation, see an unusual reoccurring number sequence that later symbolized something real, or occasionally, elements from my dreams would show up in real life the next day. I soon realized, through many discussions with my mentors, that I had the gift of prophecy (as outlined, along with the other spiritual gifts, in 1 Corinthians 12).
I didn’t know how to navigate this gift, all I knew was I was receiving pieces of valid information that I didn’t quite know how to “package” for another human — well at least in a way they could connect to that wasn’t super messy and socially awkward. Man, did I make my share of messes?! Oops!
This new dialogue with God was really exciting. I mean, I was definitely prayerful before, but now realizing, God wants to speak back to me? And He wants to speak to others through me? Like many people, I desperately needed God’s help to hone in this gift.
1 Corinthians 12:7 says: A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.
My burning question was: How can I help someone with this gift if I don’t know how to navigate it? Maybe you’re in the same predicament. I’ve written this article as a practical guide to help you “package” your prophetic word so you can be a blessing to others.
God speaks in many ways. He is the Word, therefore He is always speaking. The writer of Hebrews tells us that the word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). Through His words and His Spirit, He leads us and directs our steps. We learn how God speaks by devoting our lives to knowing and applying His written word (the Bible) everyday.
As we grow in relationship with the Holy Spirit, we’ll recognize His active communication with us through diverse avenues. Generally, there are those who hear from God, those who see visions/dreams, those who receive from God by feeling emotions or physical sensations, and those that have an inner knowing. There are innumerable ways that God might speak to us, but for the sake of time (forever), we’ll just leave it there as a foundation. As believers, we probably identify ourselves in one or more of these avenues. Not only does He speak differently to every individual, but within every individual, He speaks eclectically. For instance, most “hearers” don’t solely hear, nor do most “seers” solely see.
One of these areas listed above might be a person’s major, but more times than not, it will be combined with one or many minors. One may see a message from God (perhaps through a vision), but through hearing something with their spiritual ears they may distinguish it.
There may come a day when you feel that you have mastered your unique language with God and you’re really flowing well. Don’t get too comfortable there because Holy Spirit will often change it up altogether in order to open up your world in a new way. This is His way of keeping you connected with Him so He can teach you through relationship, and not just through a formula. We love you Holy Spirit 🙂 Whether you’re brand new to prophecy or your language just got “switched” on you — it can make putting verbiage to the message challenging. We try our best, but deep down inside we’re trying really, really hard to not sound crazy!
Obviously, total confusion is not God’s will for our lives or those we minister to, so I believe He gives us markers and guideposts to help us along the way. Here are a few things I’ve learned throughout my prophetic ministry journey with Holy Spirit, and I hope they help you, too!
After you’ve sought to receive from God, and you believe you’ve received something, ask Holy Spirit these types of questions and use them as banks when packaging your prophetic word:
1. What is the main piece of information You’re showing me? Sure, in your vision, you may have seen 100 details, but you have 2 minutes to deliver the prophetic word. Most of those details are the “filler” and not the main thing. Pick one to three main things, plan to communicate those things, and ditch the rest. If you feel those other items are particularly important, write them down and give it to the person later.
2. Holy Spirit, help me to identify their season. Is the information You just gave me pertaining to them now? To them in the past? Or to them in the future? This will help you know if you need to provide extra warmth as you deliver the word. For instance, if they’re walking through a hard season right now, they’re going to need more warmth in the delivery than someone who might be smooth sailing.
3. Which area of their life does this information pertain to? Their family? Their job? Their future assignment? A general sphere is helpful, not only to them as they receive, but to you as you provide context for what you’re saying.
4. How does this edify, exhort, and comfort them? Information for information’s sake never transformed anyone. Providing undertones of comfort and encouragement will help them to discern God’s heart through the message. Help them to connect to the Holy Spirit. Once they connect to Him, He does the transforming.
5. What does this say about their future? Prophetic ministry, for the most part, is futuristic in nature. Give them something to take home, something to hold onto, something to contend for. A promise straight from the Bible that relates to their current context will be golden.
1. Make note of patterns. God is developing a unique dialogue with you as you learn to recognize His voice. Remember what it was like when you were accurate, remember what it was like when you weren’t — learn from that.
2. Prophesy often. Make it a priority to prophesy consistently. Start small. You can do it! You’ll grow in your confidence and in your vocabulary — not to mention, you’ll be a huge encouragement to the world around you.
3. No “GOD SAID” talk just yet. You are an imperfect human; you can miss it. When you say, “God said,” you leave no room for interpretation for the person receiving ministry. How could they argue with “God”, after all? Instead, preface your words with phrases like, “I feel like God may be saying…” or “I have a sense that God is saying…” Finally, wrap it up with a good, “Does that makes sense to you?” As you build a good track record of accountability and consistency, you’ll gain more trust within your community. For now, be a student — not to mention, that will take the pressure off you to be 100% accurate!
4. Step out in faith with what you have. You probably won’t receive an elaborate, perfectly packaged message until you step out in faith. Most times, you’ll only see a small part of the big picture. As you are obedient to God with the little things, He will give you much more. God is always drawn to faith.
5. Accept no Hamburger Helper. This is a phrase I learned from one of my first prophetic mentors, Matthew Gonzales, pertaining to receiving feedback from others. As he prophesied to people, he would ask for their feedback and coach them: “No Hamburger Helper, please just tell me straight if the word made sense or not”. This is so vital as you grow. If you’re afraid to know that you were off, you’ll never truly know how it felt to be wrong, thus skipping the learning process. This habit is also great for growing in humility and cultivating a teachable attitude.
6. For the verbal processor. Plan ahead if you can. Get yourself a journal and write down the prophetic word ahead of time. This will help with the rabbit trails and the subsequent confusion of your receiver. Or you can run it by a friend before delivering it. Honestly, just being self-aware solves 90% of the issue. People can tell when you’re shooting from the hip and feeling around. Sharp prophetic ministry says what needs to be said, and not what doesn’t.
7. Holy Spirit is the best Teacher. In 1 Corinthians 14:1, Paul exhorts us to eagerly desire spiritual gifts — especially that we may prophesy. Do you think the Gift Giver would give you a gift and not help you discover it? No way! He is with you, He is in you, and He loves to teach you.