Growing up, I remember my parents repeating the phrase, "Knowledge is power." My mother insisted I get a college education because she never had one. My father was a well-educated Wharton grad who ran the family business. My grandmother used to corner me at unsuspecting times and tell me I should become a teacher, so that I'd always have something to fall back on if things "didn't work out." In our family, knowledge was VERY important; it seemed so essential to survival!
In the family of God, I've found that knowledge is still seen as power. We Christians relentlessly educate ourselves in the things of God: through conferences, seminars, books, degrees, and videos. We are thirsty for understanding, especially for the knowledge of what God might be saying about us. We don't want to miss anything!
All this is not new, of course. The tree of knowledge has been a temptation since the days of Adam and Eve. They fell for it just as we still do. They believed that knowing what God knows is powerful. It certainly seems true.
Think about it. If you have been a Christian for long, you have struggled with issues such as hearing from God, finding His will for your life, getting answers to life's difficult questions, and possibly wanting to know more about what He is doing regionally or globally.
Along comes someone with a prophetic gifting - someone who really does hear from God - and they give you a key: a personal word for you! Now you know what God wants you to do about that challenging person or situation! It is encouraging, enlightening, inspiring. You want more of that!
So you begin seeking more of the prophetic, going to conferences perhaps, hoping to "connect" again and get a "download." Those who are the most gifted in the Body of Christ have the biggest "draw" for you, since they are more likely to give you "a word." You follow them, and in some cases, you depend on them. Just like Adam and Eve, you have become hungry for information that will help you navigate life.
The desire for God-given, prophetic knowledge is not wrong, but pursuing knowledge - even in the form of prophecies - can lead you into a dependency on things other than God. Jesus was grieved that the most highly-educated lawyers of His time had "taken away the key of knowledge." (Luke 11:52, NKJV.) Setting themselves up as experts in the law, they denied access to the true Lawgiver.
It is clear that Jesus wants to give us information just as much as we desire to receive it. So what is the key to receiving knowledge, and how do we find it?
Desire Prophecy - or Desire to Prophesy?
I heard someone say once that "prophecy is intended to guide us into a relationship of power." Since God communicates largely through the prophetic, let's look at the main passage on prophecy in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 14 reads: "Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that YOU may prophesy." We are not called to "seek prophecies," but to "seek to prophesy." There's a big difference!
Seeking prophecies (or seeking information alone) is the mark of an immature, spiritually dependent believer. Seeking to prophesy is the mark of a believer who is growing his or her own ability to hear from God in order to navigate life.
Our relationship with God is the key to receiving knowledge, especially in the form of personal prophetic direction. God may use others to speak to us, but our focus should always be on Him. This is the key the lawyers of Jesus's time were missing.
If you are not communicating directly with God through prayer and reading His Word on a regular basis, you are likely leaning on someone or something else to do the "hard work" for you spiritually. This is spiritual dependence, and it's just as unhealthy as emotional dependence. While it may seem easier in the short run, it will undermine, not build, your relationship with God in the long run.
A Wonderful Man
Let's pretend I am married to a wonderful man. (I am!) Most days, my wonderful man goes to work, so despite the fact that I am intimately close to him, I also have long periods of time each day when I don't see him. I don't know what he is doing. Because I love him, I want to know what he does all day. So instead of asking him in our private time together, I begin calling up his employer. (Remember, this is hypothetical!)
Obviously, my husband's employer knows a LOT more about what happens during his day than I do. In fact, his employer is SO close to my wonderful man that he can tell me, moment by moment, what my wonderful man is doing. Wow! It's up-to-the-minute, detailed information. I can know everything there is to know about every minute of my wonderful man's work. Powerful, right?
My husband's employer may be flattered (or fearful!) that I am taking such an interest in their work, but the truth is, if I do this, I have just become emotionally dependent on my husband's employer! Instead of building relationship with my husband by talking directly to him about his work, I have become dependent on a "third party" for the details. I have information - more information than could ever be relevant to me. But I have just undermined my most intimate relationship.
Obviously, this is a humorous and unlikely example, but I want to show that we do this very thing to God when we neglect our relationship with Him to pursue what others are saying about Him. The information we gain may be true and accurate, but it does not represent God's best for us. It isn't necessarily what we need to know in order to fulfill our own callings.
What is God's Best?
God's best includes a personal prophetic relationship between each of us and Him. Prophetic? Yes, because all of us are wired to hear the voice of God, even if in various ways. (See John 10:27; 1 Cor. 14:5, 31; Eph. 5:19.)
Paul writes: "Brethren, do not be children in understanding... but in understanding be mature. (1 Corinthians 14:20, NKJV). God desires that we grow at our own pace, learning to be faithful in little so that He in turn can give us more. This applies to both responsibility and revelation. (See Luke 12:48.)
Our most significant expenditure of time and energy should be in pursuing God for ourselves. God is always speaking, from the rising of the sun until its setting (Psalm 50:1). We have only to listen! The more consistently we listen, the easier it becomes to hear His voice. And we will find, after listening for ourselves, that God will take the time to confirm prophetically what we hear Him say to us personally. He did this for me recently.
A Call to Be Faithful
You may not think of faithfulness as a key to increasing your prophetic revelation, but I beg to differ. The cry of my heart lately has been to take part in the next coming revival. I and so many others have heard God whisper that a great harvest is coming, and I don't want to miss it! When the 110th anniversary of the famed Azuza Street revival rolled around and Christians were gathering, I wanted IN!
The problem was, the meetings were in California. The West Coast. And I live in the East. With young children. *Sigh!*
I am not usually tempted to run with the crowd, but this was definitely an exception. I mean, every wonderful prophetic voice I knew was out there! Thousands were gathering. Imagine the number of spiritual "downloads" there would be! Talk about knowing what God is up to... wow! Yet I was still at home, feeling rather disappointed. I didn't know it was a setup for a miracle.
Here's what the Lord told me then:
"In the realm of faith, anything is possible. It was never My intention to keep My glory cooped up in church buildings. My heart is bigger than that! No one is exempt from My love.
"Lay down your preconceived notions of what revival looks like, for when I come I will do a new thing. You will know it but not control it, feel and see it but not hold it, for it is a unique manifestation of the will of My Spirit for such a time as this.
"Focus your eyes on what I have called you to do in this hour. As you do, I will release the energy of My Spirit through you into those who listen. Do not turn away from the tasks at hand, hoping for greater things, for I will bring My great outpouring to you directly if you but wait on Me. Patience is required, but also perseverance in doing the work you are called to.
"The principle of faithfulness is crucial right now, for those who run about seeking the next greatest thing are often selfish, not faithful. Faithfulness implies that you have someone to be faithful to; a good shepherd does not abandon sheep.
"Like the farmer, ask Me for spring rains, and I will send them to you."
Faithfulness Yields Increase
This was the "key" the Lord gave me. So I stayed. I prayed. And I asked. Over the next few weeks, I faithfully did all the tasks that a mother/wife/writer/minister of the Gospel does. The meetings ended and sadly, I thought I'd missed it all. My key seemed to have locked the door shut, not opened it.
Until the following Sunday, when two guest speakers came to our church. Guess where they'd just been? Yup, Azuza Street.
It was with a twinge of jealousy that I listened to their awesome stories about their time on the West Coast. God obviously blessed them and they had some wonderful testimonies to share about gathering in the harvest. As ministry time unfolded, I closed my eyes and prayed for them as they prayed for our little church. What I didn't notice was that one of them had immediately moved to the back of the church, where I was sitting, and was standing directly in front of me!
A moment later, the fire of God hit me. Unexpectedly, I was blessed with an impartation of the revival anointing this gal had brought with her, fresh from Azuza Street. As I received this anointing, the Lord suddenly reminded me of the words I shared with you above. "Didn't I tell you I'd bring it to you directly?" He asked. Yes, He did!
The key to receiving God's wisdom, knowledge, and even personal prophecies, is faithfulness in your relationship with God. Instead of chasing prophetic words, chase after God personally. Instead of simply buying godly books, get to know the Author Himself! Desire faithfulness in your relationship with God, and avoid the trap of spiritual dependency that comes from seeking knowledge alone.
It's not knowing what God knows that's important, it's knowing God. God isn't interested in what you know; He's interested in whom you know! Do you know Him?
When you do, you'll find that along with His prophetic words will come the even sweeter experience of His unfailing love.
c. Deborah Perkins/HisInscriptions.com
Deborah Perkins is the founder of His Inscriptions and the author of How to Inherit Your Spiritual Promises: 5 Steps to Success and The 2016 Guide to Corporate Prayer. She lives in New England with her husband, three children, one cat and eight chickens. Since her tiny home is too small for larger gatherings, she created this site as a place where she could entertain friends more freely. She also blogs for Bible Gateway, Tyndale House Publishing, and BibleVerses.com. Join her daily here or on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!
Free Link to the Subscriber Resource Library when you join His Inscriptions!
A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.