It’s a good, solid question that many parents may be asking, but it is also one that everyone in the Church benefits from raising, particularly as we are distinctly a prophetic people on a culture-invasive, society-transforming mission together.
The Joel prophecy throws down a gauntlet not of challenge, but of a determined assertion by God Himself. This is not how it could be, but how it will be in the last days. It is not something that we opt in or out of, but who we are.
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.” (Joel 2:28-29)
I know that there are many parents who would dearly love to see their children ministering the things of God, particularly as they read through the great narratives of the Bible and see first hand how God used other children and youngsters such as Samuel, Joseph, Daniel, Jeremiah and Jesus himself. (Luke 2:48-50)
We want to see far more young people join the prophetic conversation – but where do we begin?
Let’s start by the obvious encouragement that God is sovereign. There are those in history, particularly the likes of those already mentioned here, to whom God reveals Himself. He calls them, speaks to them, shows them His presence, word and gives them unmistakable visual clues by the inspiration of dreams, visions and His audible voice. They were clear, unambiguous disclosures of God, by God concerning His Will, intent and promise.
He can, and still does those things.
There is something that is of encouragement to us for the children and their input and ministry to the church that we need to embrace immediately, band it is the knowledge that God has already said He is going to put His Spirit on us, particularly that sons and daughters (implying children) will prophesy. The Apostle Paul with authority and revelation of God’s plans and purposes continues to lay down the mandate; Eagerly desire the gifts, especially that you may prophesy.
We’ve barely touched the gifts of the Spirit in this Charismatic age of the Church, and yet we are being gently pushed in the small of our back to venture forwards in prophecy? Why? It is soooooooooo beneficial, encouraging, hope-inspiring and Christ-exalting. Why on earth would we want to not do it and disobey God. But we do.
But we can change that.
Imagination is not the same as revelation. The bible makes a clear distinction for us. The Word of the Lord came to the prophets. It wasn’t an idle thought or passing notion. Perhaps we need to embrace the idea that we re very good at encouragement and call much of what we have, ‘encouragement’. That gives room for our well-meaning, love-inspired words. There is a benefit to that. We don’t have to weigh encouragement the way that we do prophecy. We know that the person is for us and with us, and that they mean well for us.
Prophecy is different.
If we teach our children from early days that God really speaks to kids as well as to adults through the Bible, through dreams, visions signs, and audible voice they will begin to develop a worldview that includes the interventions of God. If you tell them the stories of God with enthusiasm and faith, including how others have come through difficulty and hardship and yet God broke in and made a difference, then you will be inspiring them. Inspired people are easily stirred by God.
But for the sake of all of us – tell the stories of God out of a conviction of God that comes from faith because you are immersed in the narrative of God’s redemptive purposes yourself.
By that I mean, read your Bible. Devour it. Don’t be a pathetic modern day skeptic that calls a few verses a day ‘your daily reading’. Oops! Is that harsh?
George Jeffries said whilst baptising hundreds in the Royal Albert Hall during the Pentecostal revival in the 1900’s, “We are being called back to the Bible, for which our parents lived and died”. Be convinced about the fact that God’s Word is God’s word – and stir the children to have this confidence too. It is the ultimate source of God’s revelation, and it is how we weigh if something is truly from God or not.
There are many issues that can form the backdrop of a seminar in this important issue including
- How do we make way for Children to safely step out into the gifts of the Spirit?
- The need to give (and ultimately ‘loan’) vocabulary for the prophetic so that they can express what God has revealed to them?
- Encouraging children to be proactive, asking if God is speaking about ‘something’ right now?
- Seeking not assuming the gifts are available.
- Demonstrating our high value of the gifts of God
- Demonstrating authentic, honest models
I realise that this is a starting point for a greater, essential discussion.
The conviction for my part is that God absolutely does want to speak to and through the children as well as the adults, and some of the most astonishing days of the prophetic ministry may well be on the horizon. Our kids have an amazing ability and propensity to hear God.
Let’s deliberately encourage them to do so. Today.
- Indeed the challenge goes further, encouraging adults to ‘earnestly desire’ the gifts of the Spirit, ESPECIALLY that they may prophesy, is difficult enough – and even in charismatic circles there are few that choose to obey that admonition and step out in faith. Young and old need to follow this admonition of the Apostle Paul that is of remarkable benefit to all. This is one of the gifts that builds the Church – so adults need to lead the young by example, and out of their love for Christ, the Church and for each other. (back)
- not next week, but today – now! (back)