Prophetic prayer may sound like a highfalutin’ far out kind of prayer but it really isn’t. It’s simpler --- and more common than some might think. Even those who do not believe the gift of prophecy is for today might pray prophetically without realizing it. Its best claim to fame is that the one who prays is God’s mouthpiece, which makes for extremely effective prayer aimed straight on the mark.
It was an angel in the book of Revelation that gave us our best definition of prophecy when he warned John not to worship him. “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10) Therefore the essence of any genuine prophecy honors Jesus for who he is and matches his character and his purpose. That makes sense because prophecy in the Greek means to bring forth, to foretell or to tell forth. What is being spoken forth is God’s heart in a matter. You can’t get any better than that!
On a practical level, how does this work? I’ll start by giving an example from my own life. Back in 1996 I was involved in a small home fellowship group. We always spent time each week praying for each other’s needs and on May 21st one friend felt impressed with some very specific prayer for me. I won’t go into all of it but the last thing she said was; “Every time I pray for you I always find myself saying: ‘Lord, give her the pen of a ready writer.’” Neither of us knew what to make of that.
I was working for a big corporation at the time and writing was no part of my job. Still, I wrote down and dated everything my friend said and then put it away. Long about December of 2002 I randomly came across this scripture: “My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” (Psalm 45:1) (NKJV) The words hit me like a jolt.
Having had no idea that “the pen of a ready writer” was in the Bible I was terribly excited to tell my friend. She said that she didn’t know why but that was still the way she typically found herself praying for me even after all this time. Then, in July of 2003 my job was gone and I began to seek God for my next step in life. Can you guess what happened?
On November 18, 2003 I requested prayer at my church about my future. My pastor prayed and one of the things he said was, “I keep hearing the words, THE PEN OF A READY WRITER.” He had no idea what had gone on before but I knew and I was amazed and expectant. Evidently, God wanted writing in my future and I was certainly in full agreement. It had been a desire of mine since I was a child. About four months later, Hannah’s Cupboard was launched and I’ve been writing everyday since.
The simple little prayer, “Lord, give her the pen of a ready writer” was a prophetic prayer. There was no fanfare or “Thus sayest the Lord” attached to it and no dramatics. It was prophetic nonetheless because God used my friend to pray for the thing he desired to accomplish in my life. The prayer bore accurate fruit. Have you ever been prayed for or prayed for others and sensed that prophetic prayer was at work? Can you develop a gift of prophetic prayer? What should you do with any prophetic prayer you receive?
Making room for prophetic prayer
1 Corinthians 14:1 says, “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” Therefore, anyone who desires to have the gift should simply ask for it. Doesn’t the desire to have it really come from God to begin with? If you share that desire start by praying to receive a prophetic anointing for your prayer life.
The difference between prophetic prayer and straight prophecy has to do with where the prophetic utterance is directed. Straight prophecy is God’s declaration TO SOMEONE such as an individual, a church, a government, etc. Prophetic prayer is directed TO GOD in the form of asking (praying) for his plan and purposes for any of these groups.
There are ways we can encourage or make room for prophetic prayer. The main way is to slow down and wait for God’s direction before we launch into our own prayer. I’ve been on numerous prayer teams and one of the valuable lessons I’ve learned is that when someone approaches for prayer it’s wise to wait silently after they have stated their need. In fact, sometimes a person won’t verbalize the need at all but trusts that God will lead the team to pray correctly. That’s faith in action.
God doesn’t disappoint. By waiting, usually a random thought will come to mind or a picture of something or a particular scripture. This is the launching point for speaking forth the prayer God has for the person. The one praying may or may not feel their prayer is prophetic but the person receiving the prayer usually senses it is significant and not just business as usual. If the prayer hits a deep place, it’s not surprising to see an emotional response such as tears.
Prophetic prayer may seem more authoritative than regular prayer. It may come out in the form of declarations and assurances. It brings an air of confidence and increases faith in all the parties involved. It carries a sense that “this is God.” It seems genuine because it is often realized that this is not the prayer the person would have prayed on their own. For instance, my friend would have never come up with “the pen of a ready writer” on her own.
Receiving prophetic prayer wisely
It is wonderful to be on the receiving end of prophetic prayer but safeguards must be taken. The best advice is to follow the example of Mary the mother of Jesus after all the things she was told and heard about her boy but did not understand. “But His mother treasured all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:51) (NASB) She waited and trusted in God for fulfillment and for understanding in God’s timing.
Notice that when I received the prayer from my friend back in 1996 I simply recorded it and waited. In this particular case it took eight years before I saw results. You might have noticed my mentioning exact dates and wonder if I have a special penchant for remembering numbers. Not so. I was advised a long time ago to write down prophecy when received or to tape record it if possible and keep it in a notebook for that purpose. I’ve found this invaluable and I recommend it to you too.
Once filed it can be set on a shelf awaiting God’s timing. If it is the Lord, HE will bring it to pass or make it obvious if some action on your part is required. We may want to manipulate things to get them going faster but that usually fails. We also need to be careful not to put 100% stock in any prophecy until we are on the other side of it. Never take direction from prophecy and never make a major life decision based on it. It is great however for confirmation of what you already know or suspect.
How should you respond to prophetic prayer? Be encouraged and expectant, not frustrated and nagging. Pray in agreement with the prophetic prayer and speak out and confirm what the Lord has proclaimed for you. Be thankful for the revelation you have and that “the Lord will accomplish what concerns me.” (Psalm 138:8)
Do you want to increase your effectiveness when you pray? Seek prayers with a prophetic anointing. You will find that when God orchestrates them they sail straight as an arrow and hit the mark every single time.
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