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Over the years, I’ve had wonderful times of fellowship with God in the spirit. I’ve experienced His presence in life-changing ways, both in corporate church gatherings and in my own personal prayer times. But these days I am increasingly convinced of this: there is a level of fellowship in the Spirit we can all have that is beyond anything most of us have known up to now.

There’s a level of communion with God that will comfort us more completely and strengthen us with more supernatural might. There’s a place in prayer that can lift us far above anything the Devil can throw at us and empower us to live to a greater degree as more than conquerors through Him who loves us (Rom. 8:36).

I once visited with an elderly believer in China who had actually experienced this level of fellowship. He discovered it while he was imprisoned in a Siberian labor camp. The Chinese government incarcerated him there because as a youth he’d caught a vision for starting home churches. Although he wasn’t a minister, he was simply a believer, he was considered such a major threat that he was locked up for his faith.

For 34 years.

During those years, something miraculous happened. He stayed strong and healthy while the prisoners around him became weak and sick from the backbreaking labor and the lack of food. “The whole time I was there, I never got sick one time,” he said.

“Do you attribute that to anything in particular?” I asked.

“Yes, absolutely!” he replied. “I continually fellowshipped with the Lord and every single day during those 34 years, He gave me a new psalm or spiritual song. I sang those songs throughout the day, and they made all the difference.”

A Gift We All Need
But that man was suffering extreme persecution! you might think. God met him in a unique way because of his extraordinary situation.

On the contrary, God met him that way simply because he believed and obeyed the Bible. He acted by faith on the instructions the apostle Paul gave in Ephesians 5:18–19:
...Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (KJV)
As this Chinese brother discovered, those verses aren’t talking about just singing songs from the hymnal at church. They’re talking about speaking and singing inspired utterances that come from the Holy Spirit during times of fellowship with God. Such utterances sometimes come in the form of poems that are recited or chanted. Sometimes they have a melody and can be sung.

But no matter what form they take, they’re a manifestation of the gift of prophecy, and they can be a tremendous blessing, not only to us but to others.

This is why Paul encouraged all of us to “desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy” (1 Cor. 14:1 NKJV). It’s the reason he said in the strongest of terms, “Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy,” (v. 39 KJV, emphasis mine).

By definition, prophesy is a supernatural utterance in a known tongue. The Hebrew word for it means to flow forth. It carries the connotation of bubbling forth like a fountain. The Greek word means to speak for another, to speak for God or be His spokesman.

One of the nine gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12:4–11, prophecy is described there as one of the most valuable. It’s also presented as a gift that’s available, not just to a select few but to every believer. That’s good news! Because whether we’re living in a Siberian labor camp or just dealing with the everyday challenges of life, prophecy is a gift we all need to have!

Don’t Throw Out the Baby With the Bathwater

Sadly, however, not all believers are excited about prophecy. Many are wary of it because they’ve seen it misused. One lady who joined our church was like that. She was initially reluctant to get involved in our prayer ministry because at the previous church she attended, the people in prayer groups were perpetually “prophesying” over each other.

“Nothing good ever came out of it,” she said. “They prophesied to me that my mother was going to die. That was years ago and she isn’t dead yet. They prophesied to a friend of mine that her husband was going to leave her. He never did. Nothing they said came to pass.”

What that woman experienced is what often happens when believers equate the simple gift of prophecy with the office of the prophet. That’s a mistake that can cause real problems because the two are not the same. A person who stands in the office of the prophet not only operates in the gift of prophecy but other gifts as well, such as word of wisdom, word of knowledge, and discerning of spirits.

Christians who don’t realize this sometimes hear a prophet give forth a revelation about the future and think, I can do that too. Then they try and end up getting in trouble. This is why I strongly encourage people to be very careful about giving and receiving personal prophesies. When such prophecies are given in error, lives can be ruined and unfortunate things can happen.

But we mustn’t throw out the baby out with the bathwater! We mustn’t let such mistakes turn us off to prophecy completely. Instead, we should simply avoid any confusion by judging every prophecy according to what the New Testament says:
He that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. (1 Cor. 14:3 KJV)
Notice that verse doesn’t say anything about the gift of prophecy foretelling the future. It doesn’t say that prophecy reveals things to people that they didn’t previously know. It says that prophecy edifies or builds us up spiritually; it exhorts or calls us nearer to God; and it comforts us by reminding us of His love, His Word, and His faithfulness.  

There’s nothing for us to fear when it comes to prophecy as long as we make sure it is doing what the Word of God says it should do!

Copyright © Lynne Hammond Ministries
All rights reserved.

Author Biography

Lynne Hammond
Web site: Lynne Hammond Ministries
 
Lynne and her husband, Mac, pastor Living Word Christian Center, a large and growing church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The desire of Lynne’s heart is to impart principles of corporate and Spirit-led prayer to the Church throughout the world. Under her leadership, the prayer ministry at Living Word has become an internationally recognized model for developing effective pray-ers in the local church. Each week at Living Word, 80 prayer groups led by 85 prayer leaders assemble for the purpose of following the direction of the Holy Spirit in prayer. Last year, more than 10,000 people participated in Chapel Prayer, which meets every morning at Living Word. Approximately 13,000 Internet subscribers through the Global Prayer Alert Network, receive daily prayer summaries from these meetings.
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