Sometimes God uses prophets to speak into what appears to be for us, a time of fog and mist. In such times it is easy to lose your direction and focus.
Not everything about the prophetic ministry is foretelling, a vast measure is about what God is doing now, bringing explanation, comfort and understanding to present circumstances. Such ministry affirms what God is doing, bringing a renewed sense of vision, purpose and confidence in God, His Word and the leading of the Spirit. Having a fresh set of eyes looking with clarity at difficult situations can be so useful.
Sometimes the encouragement that prophetic ministry brings is by pointing to issues that have already been raised by others. That can be frustrating, to say the least, but there seems at times to be an added dimension of authority as those issues come under scrutiny. God wants the best for us, and the messengers he sends come with compassion, insight and the conviction that God has the power, authority and presence to do everything He says. He is Lord.
I am not suggesting that every time that we have a problem making a decision or establishing what the Will of God is, that we should seek out the advice of prophetic ministry. This was an acceptable mode of enquiry in Old Testament days but as John Piper says, the main way that guides us is through the scriptures,
“Nothing I say about today’s prophecies means that they have authority over our lives like Scripture does. Whatever prophecies are given today do not add to Scripture. They are tested by Scripture. Scripture is closed and final; it is a foundation, not a building in process.” (John Piper – The authority & nature of prophecy 1990)
Interestingly, following Piper’s comment, scripture is very often the resource that prophets will bring to bear on a given situation – they already know that the answer very often, is the Bible. Sometimes people just need help seeing it.
Another aspect of prophetic ministry is interpreting such moments where God seems to be far off, or where things do not seem to be going well. This happens often because of the fallen world in which we live. Common grace is encouraging, but sometimes we need to know that the hand of God is not far from us, and it is one of compassion, correction or redirection. In Christ, we know that God’s plans for us are good, and He works all things in life for our ultimate good and His great glory.
Prophets help us to re-evaluate who He is and our inclusion in Him, helping us to take a default position of always turning to the Lord in faith, trust and obedience. It takes a lifetime.
One interpretation that may be the discernment of the prophetic person, is that you need to see things much more in the light of scripture and not experience. Looking at things with a Biblical viewpoint, reminding one of the Biblical truths and affirming what Scripture already says. This is particularly important when looking at issues of self-esteem – looking at who God is first, and then our place in Him. Prophets help us to re-evaluate who He is and our inclusion in Him, helping us to take a default position of always turning to the Lord in faith, trust and obedience. It takes a lifetime.
Alternatively, another interpretation a prophetic person may bring may be that the struggling person may have got to a place of being like Samson who, not knowing that his strength was gone, got up to do things as before. Disaster was imminent.
Some people think that because the hand of God is not lifted immediately in their lives when they are living recklessly or without concern, that God must not be troubled by their behaviour. The favour of God sometimes takes a while before He finally removes it. Prophetic input at this point usually calls for repentance and also brings hope for the future but it is always done with kindness, mercy and with the ultimate intention of honouring the Lord.
Discernment in these areas is so crucial and is a key reason that prayer is the main activity of the prophetic ministry. The question is always, ‘what is God really saying’ and in the fog and mist, it may be more than you think …