- May 16–18, 2019
- Dayton, OH
- Lisa Winter
Do you have a word from God, but it seems like nobody is responding?
In The Art of Hearing God, we talk about the four parts of a prophetic word: revelation, interpretation, application, and proclamation. Each of these is important to communicate the heart and will of God to your listeners.
The first part is revelation. How did God speak to us? Was it in a dream or vision? A visitation from an angel or a Scripture verse that came alive? Did we have a thought, feeling, or knowing that we recognized as coming from God?
I think this is the easiest part of receiving a prophetic word because we can’t force it or cause it to happen one way instead of another. The only thing we can do is position ourselves to pay attention to God and “catch” what He says.
The second part of a prophetic word takes a little more maturity. Depending on how the revelation came, the interpretation may be easier or harder to discern.
For example, if we heard God’s audible voice, in most cases little interpretation is needed. But when the revelation comes through a feeling, that can be tricky. First we need to figure out if it was our feeling (something going on inside of us), another person’s feeling (we can pick up on those, too!), or God’s feeling.
If the emotion was ours or another person’s, we need to discern if it agrees with God’s perspective on the situation or if it is a soulish response (something human and potentially sinful).
When the revelation comes through a dream or vision, we need to know what metaphors are involved, what they represent in this particular context, and how they fit into the whole. Interpretation is something we grow in as we study and interact with the Spirit of God.
So we’ve received revelation from God, and we know what it means—now what? What are we supposed to do with it?
No matter what God is saying, it’s good to seek Him for answers to these questions: Who needs to hear this message? Is it something we just need to believe for and wait to see happen? Or is it something we need to respond to with boldness? Do we need to pray for it or against it? Is there something we or someone else needs to do to prepare for this prophetic word? Does it call for repentance or thankfulness, worship or instruction?
Those questions may seem overwhelming, but don’t forget the most important part of prophecy: This is something you get to do with God.There really is very little pressure on you here, because He is the One who is acting and moving. Anytime you have a question about prophecy or interpreting dreams, He is the answer.
This is the most overlooked aspect of a prophetic word. Many of us assume we can take a prophetic word and run with it, proclaiming or sharing it the way we received it, but often there is more to the process.
In Scripture many people received revelation and then did something in the natural that corresponded with that revelation. Agabus proclaimed a prophetic word over Paul by taking his belt and tying his hands together (Acts 21:10–11). God instructed Zechariah to receive an offering, use it to fashion a crown, put it on the priest’s head, and store the crown in the temple afterward (Zech. 6:9–14). Ezekiel formed a model of Jerusalem, lay on his side next to it, and stayed there; he cooked and ate food and didn’t move from that position for a long time (Ezek. 4).
When we’ve heard from God, it’s good to ask Him a few questions about what He said: Should we share how the revelation came to us or just what it meant? Should we share the entire word or only a portion? Do we communicate any criteria that must be met for the word to happen? Or do we leave that part out so the person or people can choose how they will respond on their own, like the people of Nineveh did when Jonah prophesied to them?
How All of This Works Together
When we know we’ve heard from God but it seems like nobody is responding, we need to remember these four aspects of a prophetic word. Until all four aspects come together, it is possible our listeners will not act. Paul wrote that revelation must be understandable for someone to respond to it (1 Cor. 14:6–9).Understanding is also necessary for the word to pass the “love” test (1 Cor. 13:1).
Honestly, since the point of the prophetic is to help people respond to God, we don’t need to put much thought into how people respond to us.We may not “get” all four aspects with every prophetic word God gives us, but we will be more effective with our prophetic gifts when we seek Him for answers in all four aspects.
There’s a shaking, a trembling, a moving in the deep.
Light is rising and the fountains begin to leak.
Fire is burning, embers are glowing, a blowing is fanning into flame forgotten fire and yesterday’s promise is breathing again, full of expectation for the now that was and is coming that now is. Full of hope, color exploding, arise my soul and sing your future.
The path rises before, rocky and tired, disappointments being pressed under my feet as I step in cadence to the heartbeat within that is without, that defines and explains, that heals and fulfills, that awakens longing and is the longing we have been afraid to give words to less it overtakes inhibitions and hope actually comes alive —hope that the me that He sees is truly the me that will be seen.
No more shadows, leaving dark places behind, stepping into light and finding I am light. My wings begin to stretch and fill with breath. Shall I take flight, leave behind lies that define, sorrow that binds, fear that draws a line? Hope sneaks up, scares me into jumping, faith catches me right when I felt I was falling, love matures and I find I am. I am me, the me You saw and knew before me was, the me dreamt of in the darkness before the stars were hung and named, the me You found in You, springing from Your fountain the fountain of You, the revealer of You because You revealed me. I am free.
Come and see, you are me and now you are free. Step off the cliff, stretch your wings, His wind will blow, don’t hold back the time is now. You are free and free is you.
But God planted a creative DNA in every single one of us; the Bible resounds with proof. Through Joseph and Daniel, David and Solomon, genius was evident that we have grown to know and respect. However, what we may not realize is this genius fully activated their God-given creative DNA. We have lost the understanding of what this is, it was gifted to us to use as a glorious weapon—a firepower so that God’s people could excel to help a world that so desperately needs the creative ideas and solutions of heaven.
If you believe you were created by God…this course is for you!
Do You Want to Remember Your Dreams?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “How can I remember more of my dreams?” Sometimes people add, “I never remember my dreams. I don’t even know if I dream.” Or “I used to remember my dreams, but lately I don’t remember any.”
Why is it so hard to remember dreams sometimes? Here are a few possibilities.
Do We Value Our Dreams?
Scientists have done enough sleep studies to know that every person dreams. Why, then, do we often not remember?
The human brain has a built-in stimulus filter called the reticular activating system that sifts out what we deem “unimportant” so we can pay attention to what we deem “important.” The problem is, we program this system to know what is important or unimportant by what we pay attention to.
When we study something or talk about it, essentially we are telling our brains to pay more attention to that subject. So we will likely start remembering more of our dreams when we purposefully start focusing on dreams, reading the dreams recorded in the Bible and talking to other people about dreams.
According to Scripture, spiritual gifts—including the ability to hear and see into the spiritual realm—can be imparted through prayer or the laying on of hands (2 Kings 6:17; 2 Timothy 1:6). If you know someone who has a deep relationship with God and dreams a lot, ask them to lay their hands on you and pray for you.
How Do We Respond to Dreams from God?
When we’re doing anything new—baking a cake, constructing a table, trying to find a restaurant in a different city—it is important that we follow the directions and that we do so in order. We need to complete step one before moving on to step two. God understands this principle even better than we do, and sometimes He will wait to tell us more until we complete the last task He gave us.
Have we had a dream (or other revelation) from God that gave us instructions? Were we obedient to follow those instructions?
If you are having fewer dreams than you used to, go back and make certain you’ve done what your earlier dreams told you to do. You may find yourself remembering more dreams in the near future.
When Memory Is the Problem
Sometimes the issue is one of memory, and in this case, we can train ourselves to remember more. If we practice short-term memory recall (these are memories less than a year old), we may find ourselves remembering more dreams and more details within those dreams.
You can find several exercises and games that can help strengthen your memory, but the best way to develop spiritual memory is to memorize Scripture. Get in the habit of memorizing Bible verses, and try to fall asleep each night going over them.
Renewing Relationship with God
Paul tells us that how we act, especially toward other believers, can grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). The word he uses for “grieve” doesn’t refer to a minor irritation, a little thing, but it means severe mental or emotional distress. If our actions are hurting God’s heart, much of what He says to us will be an invitation to deepen our relationship with Him, which may not be what we want to hear. When we’re at a point in our lives where we aren’t willing to listen to His call, we likely won’t hear the other things He says.
If there is an area of unresolved sin or relational discord in our lives, we need to repent and make it right. Not only will this bring us peace, but we may also find ourselves having more dreams from God.
Have We Asked for Dreams?
James tells us that we don’t have what we want because we haven’t asked for it (4:2). Have we asked God for dreams? Have we told Him that we want Him to speak to us in this way? How many times did we ask—only once? Only twice? If we want something, we need to persist in asking until we have it (Luke 18:1–8).
If you would like to have more dreams from God, pray this prayer: “Father, I want to hear from You in every way that You speak. Will You give me dreams and speak to me in all the ways You want me to hear, so that I can know Your heart, understand Your will and walk in Your ways?”
If you prayed that prayer with faith, you may want to put a dream journal and pen next to your bed, so you can be prepared to write down your dreams when you have them.
The Holy Spirit moves according to seasons. Sometimes we will have more dreams and sometimes we will have fewer dreams, and it could be simply the season we are in. For several weeks in a row, I might wake up a couple of times nearly every night to write down my dreams, but in other seasons, I might have only a handful of “significant” dreams in a month.
In all things related to the Spirit, there are seasons. When you’re aware of the season you are in, you will feel less frustrated with your spiritual life.
What About You?
Have you discovered other reasons that people don’t remember their dreams? Let us know! Share your thoughts in a Facebook post and tag us. Click here to go to our Facebook page.
John E. Thomas is the president of Streams Ministries and the co-author of The Art of Praying the Scriptures: A Fresh Look at Lectio Divinawith John Paul Jackson. Teaching on prophetic ministry, dream interpretation and the Kingdom of God, he travels internationally and works to help restore the awe of God to a world that has lost its wonder. John and his wife, Dawna, live outside of Dallas, Texas.