There is only one way to receive a word from the Lord.

  • Wait on the Lord
  • Wait on the Lord
  • Wait on the Lord
  • Seek the Holy Spirit
  • Seek the Holy Spirit
  • Seek the Holy Spirit
  • Pray
  • Pray
  • Pray
  • Read the Word
  • Read the Word
  • Read the Word

Then do all these things some more.

To recognise a person's voice, you must know him well. Prophets must develop a strong relationship with God, before they can hear his voice. The key is sitting in the presence of the Lord and walking in the Spirit. We cannot tell the Lord when he should speak. We must wait for him. Sometimes he may speak to a person two or three times in quick succession, then he may go for several years without speaking. He is sovereign, we have to wait on him to come (Jer 42:7).

Listen to the Spirit

The angel said the following words to John seven times.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev 2:7).

Jesus said something similar at least four times.

He who has ears, let him hear (Matt 13:9).

These words must be really important.

The most important skill is to learn to hear the Holy Spirit speaking.

"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you (John 16:12-15).

Different Ways

Different people and personalities hear God in different ways. Each prophet must find the way that is best for them.

The Lord speaks to prophets through visions and dreams, and sometimes face to face.

When the prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house with him I speak face to face; clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord (Num 12-8).

A prophet can choose not to receive a word. Elisha did not want to seek a word of guidance for a wicked King.

But Jehoshaphat asked, "Is there no prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of the Lord through him?" An officer of the king of Israel answered, "Elisha son of Shaphat is here. He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah." Jehoshaphat said, "The word of the Lord is with him." So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him. Elisha said to the king of Israel, "What do we have to do with each other? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother." "No," the king of Israel answered, "because it was the Lord who called us three kings together to hand us over to Moab." Elisha said, "As surely as the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, if I did not have respect for the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you or even notice you. But now bring me a harpist." While the harpist was playing, the hand of the Lord came upon Elisha (2 Kings 3:11-15).

Sometimes worship or song may help the prophet to hear the Lord speak. This is why Elisha wanted the harp to play.

Prophets should also be students of history. They must also be students of contemporary events. The whole of a nation's history is a record of God's dealings with his people. The prophetic message must be spoken in this context.

One of the errors of the Pentecostal and Charismatic portion of the church has been to cast the prophet into the mould that says he/she must be one who exhibits the supernatural gift of the prophet to prophesy, and thus will often neglect the prophetic voices of men such as Chuck Colson or others who are clearly prophetic voices to our generation (Jim Wies - Different Kinds of Prophets).

Lloyd Philips lists twelve ways that we can hear from God.

1. Impressions

An impression is like a feeling or intuition. Often I get the sense that the Spirit is pressing upon me in a certain way. This is a form of discernment. The still small voice really is under this category. We are all in that category as far as we can receive through inspiration and we can receive through the voice of God and then speak it.

2. A knowing or witness

Romans 9:1 says, "I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit". We all have an inner witness. It is called Christ in you. It is the mind of Christ that tells us what we ought to do or ought not to do.

3. We can feel things

We can receive things in the emotions of our soul and in our bodies. The word does not come through your flesh, but the word can effect the flesh. Often I have had the sense that the Spirit is touching a part of my body in order to communicate a message to me.

4. Visions

The first and most common manifestation of visions are visions of the spirit in the heart. The eyes can be open or closed. Seeing a vision and interpreting what is being seen are not one and the same.

5. Supernatural senses

In this level the five senses are amplified in sensitivity and ability. One can experience 'x-ray vision' giving the ability to see through something or a heightened sense of smell or hearing. One may hear a sound of conversation across a distance, which could not be heard with your physical senses.

6. Dreams

The next level is dreams. They are seen all through the Bible. Jacob at Bethel saw the angels go up and down a ladder. Joseph saw the vision or dream of the moon and the stars. God will often use dreams to communicate warnings and other important information to us in order to avoid as much interference from our senses as possible.

7. Open visions

This is where the eyes are open and one sees spiritual things as if they appeared normal to the natural eyes. It is possible for the open vision to be so real to our eyes that it is only later understood that it was an open vision at all. It is likewise possible to actually be involved in the physical sense in a spiritual phenomenon only to realise later that it was not a vision. This happened to Peter in Acts 12:11.

8. Trances

This manifestation is distinct from visions because in a vision one is still aware of ones surroundings. In a trance ones surroundings are blotted out temporarily, unless God wants them to be observed. This also occurred to Peter in Acts 10.

9. Audible voices

Acts 9 is the account of Paul's encounter with the Lord while travelling to Damascus. He was knocked to the ground and a conversation occurred between he and the Lord. In verse 7 it says the other men stood by and heard a voice but they did not see anyone. To Paul it was an audible voice. In my experience, the audible voice of God will always be life changing no matter the length or brevity of the conversation.

10. Visitations from angels

Angels can bring us information. An angel came to Daniel to bring him understanding. Angels came to Abraham because there was something important that needed to happen that he needed to be informed about. Mary spoke with the angel Gabriel, the same archangel who communicated to Daniel. Joseph was ministered by an angel through a dream, as was Jacob.

11. Visitations from the Lord

At times there may be a commissioning that the Lord Jesus Himself will administer. It is often difficult for the person to communicate what happened in human words. It may not be something they want people to know about, especially since many people would not believe it.

12. Translation in place or time

Both Paul and John were caught up into the third heaven. They were used to doing service for the Body of Christ, to bringing the Word of God so that the Body would prosper, so that they could adjust and prepare for the things that are ahead.

(Lloyd C. Phillips - Prophets, Seers and Rulers)

There are a number of good books on hearing God.

The ministry of the prophet required spending time in the presence of God. Jeremiah calls this standing 'in the council of the Lord to see or hear his word (Jer 23:18).

It is to that end that all of the prophets training proceeds. He must learn how to hear God speaking in visions and dreams. He must polish his gifts of perception and knowledge by practice. He must learn to combine bold forthrightness and reticent courtesy. He must know the law - and when and how to follow the Spirit beyond the letter of the law in mercy. He will above all learn the power and ways of intercession and how to call the body to it (John and Paula Sanford - The Elijah Task p.64).

A prophet will never initiate a single thing for himself. He must be explicitly and totally led by God in every syllable that he utters (Art Katz - The Heart of a Prophet).

This statement of Jeremiah neatly sums up the way in which all the prophets received divine guidance. They learned to listen to God, to meditate upon his word, to allow their thoughts to be directed by the spirit of God and sometimes to receive pictures through which he communicated a message to them (Clifford Hill - Prophecy, Past and Present, p.35).

The prophetic ministry involves seeing things as they really are (Ian Breward).

Prophets should not only be careful how they hear the Lord; they also need to learn that people's wishes can affect their hearing (John and Paula Sanford - The Elijah Task p.97).

We will only have true prophetic vision to the degree that we are looking through his eyes (Rick Joyner - The Prophetic Ministry).

Wait

When we have received a word from the Lord, the first thing we should do is ask what he wants us to do with it. We should not assume that he wants us to speak it out. He may want us to sit on it and wait and pray. We should also ask for an interpretation and guidance for how to deliver it. Many true words are spoiled, because they are incorrectly handled.

In Charismatic and Pentecostal circles there is an emphasis on spontaneity and giving the word as soon as it is received. Sometimes it would be better to just receive the word and brood on it. God will often clarify and focus the word as the prophet carries the burden. There is a risk that the prophet will add to the word, however, this is no greater than the risk that a person giving a spontaneous prophecy that is not complete, will complete it themselves.

Under no circumstances should we share this revelatory word with our friends or cronies. We must go to God, then the leadership. It may sound good or seem attractive to share this with our closest loved ones. However, in my experience, in 90% of those cases, a disaster occurs. We cannot always know what is in the heart of our friends or what resentments, hurts or opinions lurk beneath the surface. Many prophetic people get suckered into firing other peoples' bullets, often at the wrong target!! (Graham Cooke - Developing Your Prophetic Gifting p.272).

A prophetic minister must discipline himself to remain silent when God is silent (Mike Bickle - Growing in the Prophetic p.105).

When frustration is present in the life of an individual, they will probably see and hear correctly but interpret it in a totally wrong way (Graham Cooke - Developing Your Prophetic Gifting p.322).

A prophet loves to hear from God, but sometimes the message received can be painful to bear.

Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: "Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land." So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, "Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey." I took the little scroll from the angel's hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. Then I was told, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings" (Rev 10:8-11).

Once the prophet has received revelation, he must enter into intercession (Chip Brogden - The Ministry of the Watchman).

Prophetic Teams

When several prophets function together, the anointing is multiplied, not added. The Holy Spirit loves to chop a revelation up like a jigsaw and give pieces to different people and then watch their excitement as they put it Back together.

The other side of this is that lone prophets can often assume that they have the whole picture when they are only a holding a piece of a jigsaw. The piece that they have might be pretty, but they need to get together others to get the full picture. An unbelievably large number of people have been given partial messages by lone prophets.

The one-one man band was never part of God's economy. The lone prophet (and the lone evangelist, and the lone pastor) should never have got past Pentecost. The big man syndrome is a curse on the church. God's way is a big Holy Spirit working through a whole lot of little men.

While there is strength in several prophets working together (1 Cor 14:29) there are also risks. A group of prophets can get together and rark each other up in the flesh. The result is not a pretty sight. Miciah faced a situation where this had happened (1 Kings 22:12-13).

God's way is to bring a few prophets together with someone with a pastoral gifting and an evangelist being present as well. The latter two would help the prophets keep their feet on the ground (not a one-man band pastor, as he would just try to control the whole set up).

There is a real safety in a balanced ministry. When several people with different giftings (that sometimes rub against each other) submit to each other in love, the anointing is multiplied even further.

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