I remind you to stir [fan] into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. (2 Timothy 1:6)
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)
So, when a young man ran and reported to Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp,” Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses’ aide, said, “My lord, Moses, stop them.” But Moses answered him, “Are you jealous for my sake? If only all the people of the LORD were prophets! If only the LORD would bestow his spirit on them!” (Numbers 11:27-29)
On the other hand, one who prophesies does speak to human beings, for their building up, encouragement, and solace. Whoever speaks in a tongue builds himself up, but whoever prophesies builds up the church. Now I should like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. (1 Corinthians 14:3-5)
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
In the two previous articles, we described the ways we can “fan into flame” (2 Timothy 1:6) the many spiritual gifts God wants to pour out on us, as well as the ways we can “quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). We also focused on a few of these gifts, and how to use them to build the Kingdom of God and bring him glory. In this article, we will look more closely at one of the most powerful of the spiritual gifts: the gift of prophecy.
Of all the spiritual gifts described in the Scriptures, the gift of prophecy is probably one of the last gifts we would ever ask God for. Why? Because we tend to think of a “prophet” as someone who forecasts the future. Of course, some Old Testament prophets did know the future. But being a prophet is a much broader call to proclaim the good news of who God is, what he has done through his Son, Jesus Christ, and what he is prepared to do. When you look at it that way, it’s clear that we are all called to be prophets. As Moses once said to Joshua, “If only all the people of the LORD were prophets! If only the LORD would bestow his Spirit on them!” (Numbers 11:29). St. Paul also makes this same point as he describes the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:3-5).
Does this sound scary to you? Don’t worry. You have the same Holy Spirit who empowered Moses, Joshua, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Elijah, John the Baptist, and all the others. You have all you need to become a prophetic voice in your home and community!
A word of caution, however: A prophet speaks God’s word, and that word comes from the Holy Spirit, not just from the prophet’s own thoughts and imaginings. So the best thing we can do is to open our hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit more and more each day. As we learn how to do this, we’ll begin to hear him speaking to us in many different ways. For example, we may feel him prompting us to speak his word at a prayer meeting or as we are praying for someone. We may feel him prompting us to speak to this or that person, and we will get a sense of what we should say—and what we should not say!
How can we tell if something is coming from the Holy Spirit? If the sense you are getting leads you to love Jesus more, to be more compassionate, or to be more courageous in speaking his word to others, or in evangelizing, it’s probably from the Spirit. If it leads to prideful self-reliance, inappropriate fear, self-centeredness, or frustration, it’s probably from another source. And even if the “good” senses are coming from your own mind, they won’t hurt you. As Jesus promised, “By their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:16).
God doesn’t want to make it hard for us to become prophetic. We just have to have an open heart to receiving this gift and then step out in faith and test the results (1 Thessalonians 5:20-22). We can light the way for others, telling them about God’s wonderful promises and the abundant life that Jesus came to bring them (John 10:10).And then we’ll actually be giving a glimpse into the mind of God and the love of God to those in most need of it!
“Lord Jesus, pour your Spirit on me so that I may be a prophetic voice to others as I proclaim your word and your salvation.”
Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing me to adapt meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. Take some time to meditate and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do you think God is trying to reveal to you through them?
2. The article states that “the gift of prophecy is probably one of the last gifts we would ever ask God for.” Is that true of you. If so, why?
3. Did the article help to clarify any misconceptions you may have regarding the gift of prophecy and being a prophetic voice? Which ones?
4. What steps are you willing to take to open yourself to receiving this gift? Are you willing to ask the Lord for this gift and then “test” it as you try to use it?
5. The article gives a few practical examples of how the gift of prophecy can be used in our daily life and how to test the gift. Are you willing to experiment with some of these to open your self to prophetic gifts?
6. Take some time now to pray for a greater openness to receiving the gift of prophecy in any way the Lord desires to give it to you. Use the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point.