Hearing God Better for Others 

hearing God better for others
There are two reasons to get better at hearing God:

  1. God speaks to us about our relationship with God
  2. God speaks to us to for the strengthening, encouragement and comfort of others (1 Cor 14:3)

If that second reason sounds like prophecy you are right.  In fact you could define prophecy as listening to God for others and then passing on what God says.

Prophecy is for all Christians
At the day of Pentecost when God poured out his Spirit, Peter quoted the prophecy of Joel: 

"In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.  Even on my servents, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days and they will prophesy"
(Acts 2:17-18)

Men, Women, Sons, Daughters - I think that covers all of us!

Why doesn't God just speak to everyone individually, why does God speak through others?
The first reason is that sometimes we are so distracted, confused or consumed by our situation that it is hard for us to hear God clearly.  So God out of His love and care for us speaks to us through others.

But I also think there two additional, wider reasons:  

  • God has designed the church to be interdependent - no one person has everything (1 Cor 12:12-31), and
  • God wants to give us the joy of participating with Him in His work -  Jesus could have fed the 5000 by himself, but he chose to include the disciples and they had an experience they would never forget.

There are three parts to prophecys

  1. Revelation - what you get from God - word, picture etc  (eg Jer 1:13)
  2. Interpretation - what that word or picture means (eg Jer 1:14-16)
  3. Application - how to respond

A great example of this is found in Acts 20 and 21.  In 20:22-23 God had spoken to Paul about going to Jerusalem and that he would face prision.  Then in Acts 21:10-14, we see Agabus gets:

  • a revelation - using Paul's belt to tie his hands and feet; and
  • then he gives the interpretation - Paul will be arrested.  
  • The people with Paul then thought the application of this word should be that Paul NOT go to Jerusalem.  Note, Agabus himself didn't give an application.  Unlike the people's thoughts (no doubt coming from their love for Paul) Paul himself seems to have applied the word by drawing comfort and strengthening from it as a confirmation of what God had said to him personally in Acts 20.

Some simple guidelines to help keep prophecy safe
You may have heard some horror stories of prophecy gone wrong.  So as you intentionally listen to God for other people here are some simple guidelines that can help:

  1. Make sure you operate within 1 Cor 14:3, speaking words of strengthening, encouragement and comfort.  (If you get highly challenging corrective words, take it to church leadership, don't share it)
  2. Use your normal language - there is no need to break into King James English or pronounce "thus sayeth the Lord..."
  3. Always use language that offers the prophecy and gives space for weighing/testing the prophecy including the possiblity you may have misheard (1 Cor 14:29, 1 Thes 5:20-21):
    • I think God might be saying .....
    • When I was praying for you, this picture/word/thought came to mind .....
  4. Remember that of the three parts to prophecy, you job is to offer the revelation, and if you receive it, some interpretation.  Don't give the application but help the other person identify what they think God is saying/what is the application for them.
  5. We sometimes have a tendency to say too much - to embelish the word or creep into application.  It is better to say too little than too much.
  6. Be accountable for what you say 
    1. Don't give prophetic words anonymousy - always put your name to it.  That gives people the opportunity to ask you clarifying questions.
    2. Write it down or record it
  7. Don't give highly specific prophecies about significant things like babies and marriages.  If you think you might have got something like that - take it to church leadership
  8. If you receive a prophecy it is often wise to involve mature Christians in a conversation about interpretation and especially application.

Have a go
Don't be put off by all of these details and don't put pressure on yourself to be an expert when you are just starting out.  You could simply start by praying for a friend at church and asking God to give you an encouraging scripture, word or picture you could pass on to them.