Prayer Points For Prophetic Anointing



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Prayer Points For Fresh Fire

Powerful Prayer Points For Prophetic Anointing

John Piper tells the story of when he and his wife, Noël, were expecting their fourth child, and a woman shared with John a very dire “prophecy”: Noël would die in childbirth, and the baby would be a girl. This prophecy seemed wrong. There was nothing edifying, encouraging, or consoling about it (1 Corinthians 14:3). John wisely said nothing about it to Noël. The child was born a boy, and mother and baby came through just fine.

This article is the fourth in a series of four articles on the gift of prophecy in the New Testament. In the series, Jon Bloom explores both of the major positions, looks at examples in the church today, and answers some frequently asked questions.

This is the kind of scary use of prophecy that can understandably make us cynical towards this gift of the Holy Spirit, and understandably make many pastors want to steer away from its use in their churches. What we need to remember is that damaging false prophecies foolishly delivered without prior evaluation by wise, pastoral counsel have occurred throughout church history. Even in the apostle Paul’s day, he had to exhort churches and their leaders to “not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:19–21). The easiest way to avoid the messes this gift can make is to avoid the gift.

Worth the Risk
However, we also could list examples of the scary uses of other spiritual gifts, such as teaching or healing, yet we would not say that we should therefore avoid teaching people or praying for their healing. So we must also not let the misuse of prophecy cause us to miss out on the benefits the Spirit wants us to receive through this gift’s proper use. I have benefited from it many times over the years — mostly on the receiving end. If I had the time and space, I’d tell you stories:

Like the time God answered a very specific prayer through a text John Piper preached on.
Or the time God gave me a prophetic word from a friend, and gave my soon-to-be wife a prophetic vision, which helped prepare us for a dark, trying season in our lives.
Or the time a missionary friend in Kazakhstan emailed me a prophetic word he sensed God had for me, which arrived at the precise time I needed it to confirm a difficult decision I was weighing — of which my friend had no knowledge.
Or the time I received a specific word regarding a personal matter for a stranger sitting next to me on a plane that proved accurate.
Or the times more recently when a man in Kansas (I didn’t know), a woman in New York (I didn’t know), and a friend in Minneapolis all independently shared with me very similar words they sensed God wanted me to know, which contributed to a constellation of confirmations and helped me discern a difficult directional decision, of which none of them had prior knowledge.
And there are more stories I could share. Yes, I’ve also seen prophecy used poorly, and personally I’ve made some mistakes. But the edifying, encouraging, and consoling benefits I’ve received and seen others receive have been so profound that I can say this gift is worth the messiness it can sometimes cause.

If you’ve recently become convinced that God is still giving this gift to the church, or you’ve been in the “cautious continuationist” camp too long (“caution” effectively inhibiting meaningful pursuit), I’d like to share some practical counsel on how to get started “earnestly desiring” this gift, and answer some frequently asked questions regarding prophecy.

Getting Started
What do you do if you’re not sure what to do next? How do we give legs to our “earnest desire”? First, remember that prophecy is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is given. So we are completely dependent on the Spirit. The Spirit “apportions [his gifts] to each one individually as he wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11), and we are told that not everyone receives this gift (1 Corinthians 12:29).

But the Bible also tells us that unbelief quenches the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19–20), and that the Spirit responds in proportion to our faith, specifically regarding prophecy (Romans 12:6). So the first step in earnestly desiring the gift of prophecy is to seek to increase our faith for it. And we can do this through prayer, preparation, and practice.

First, ask the Spirit to teach you about prophecy. He’s the great teacher of the saints who Jesus promises will “guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). Ask him to guide you as you examine this gift and seek it, for the upbuilding of others.

Second, since the Spirit is the giver of the gift of prophecy, ask him for it. But don’t ask tentatively or half-heartedly. Ask boldly. If the gift is available, tell him that in obedience to 1 Corinthians 14:1, you earnestly want it. And ask repeatedly, persistently, even impudently (Luke 11:8). Tell other faithful pray-ers that you want this gift, and ask them to pray with you. If you know folks who exercise prophecy with some effectiveness, ask them to pray for you. Take what Jesus said in Luke 11:9–13 seriously and ask, believing that your Father longs to give you the good gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Educate yourself on the gift of prophecy. Dig into 1 Corinthians chapters 12–14. Read Paul carefully and seek to understand what he really means. Then read the book of Acts and study every time a prophetic word or vision occurs. Keep your eyes open. You may discover details you hadn’t seen before.

Avail yourself of helpful resources on this gift (and others). Type “prophecy” into Desiring God’s search window, and you’ll find a list of helpful resources. You can also browse our resources on spiritual gifts in general. Specifically, I’d recommend John Piper’s article “Signs and Wonders: Then and Now,” his sermon series Are Signs and Wonders for Today?, and messages from a pastors conference under the title “Spiritual Gifts and the Sovereignty of God.”

I’d also recommend some resources by Sam Storms. His book The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts provides a helpful introduction to prophecy and other gifts. Practicing the Power: Welcoming the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Your Life is a more practical guide to earnestly pursuing these gifts. Sam’s church hosts an ongoing conference to help lovers of God’s word grow in the use of God’s gifts. Past conference sessions are available to watch or listen to, free of charge.

These resources are a good place to begin to press into understanding the nature and use of the gift of prophecy.

Beginning to practice this gift is where the rubber meets the road — and where we encounter our fears. If we ask for prophecy and grow in our understanding of it, it is likely that the Spirit will begin to give us promptings. In fact, you may recognize you’ve already experienced this gift, even if you didn’t know what it was.

I believe that, for most people, it’s best not to learn to use this gift in larger public settings, but rather with individuals or in small groups. A small group of people who are earnestly desiring this gift together is an ideal place to nurture it. Group members can pray for each other. And an atmosphere of trust can be cultivated where it’s safe and encouraged to share what you think might be something from the Spirit — and to make mistakes. A safe place to fail is key to growing in the use of any gift, especially one like this. Like any other gift, we grow in our maturity in the use of prophecy over time (see FAQ #8 below).

Because this new covenant revelatory gift is processed and communicated by us fallibly, we should never use authoritative language like “Thus says the Lord” when sharing what we think may be a prophetic word. Rather, we should say something like, “I think the Lord might be saying . . .” and we allow others to test it for themselves (1 Thessalonians 5:19–21; 1 Corinthians 14:29). Humility is also key in growing in the use of any gift, especially one like this.

But don’t let fear of enduring the growing process stop you from moving forward. Seek to intentionally increase your faith through prayer, preparation, and practice. I have found it is worth the effort. Prophecy uniquely edifies, encourages, and consoles the saints of God, which is why Paul recommended that we especially desire this gift. It is one important way God expresses his love for his children. We neglect his gift to our own and others’ detriment




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