Follow these simple maintenance tips to keep your new “power tool” in tip-top condition:
“Use it or lose it,” as the adage goes. In order to maintain your gift, you’ve got to use it frequently. Make it a habit. Faith is like a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Every time you ask God to speak to you and you receive His message, it demonstrates that you have faith in the process. The more you exercise your gift, the more your faith will grow, and the easier it will become.
Read the Word
It takes faith to hear from God, and that faith comes from God’s Word.
As you practice using your gift, your confidence in it will grow. You’ll get over the uncertainty you felt at first, wondering if it would actually work. That’s wonderful, but it can also be dangerous. If you’re not careful, you can begin to think you don’t need to read your Bible anymore-after all, you’re getting it “straight from the horse’s mouth.” But that’s not so! Jesus once likened God’s Word to “treasures new and old.”1 You need both, and you need to find the proper balance.
Here’s an analogy: Consider prophecy and the written Word as two basic food groups-say, carbohydrates and protein. Eating only one or the other wouldn’t benefit your body nearly as much as the two combined in a balanced diet.
You also need a knowledge of the written Word in order to confirm the words you personally receive from Heaven, and that knowledge comes from regular reading and study. The Bible is the handbook of the heavenly Department of Weights and Measures, which gives the specifications by which you can measure the messages you receive. God won’t tell you anything contrary to what He has said in the Bible, but don’t be surprised if He fills in lots of gaps. In fact, that’s one of the main purposes of prophecy: to fill in the gaps, and to apply the spiritual principles of the Bible to you personally in this day and age.
Some things either just aren’t covered in the Bible, or aren’t covered in enough detail, or the application might not be clear in the context of today’s world. For example, if you’re wondering whether you should travel somewhere by plane or by car, you won’t find a verse in the Bible that specifically tells you which of those two methods of transportation you should use, since they didn’t exist at that time. However, the Lord might bring to your mind a verse about going slow or fast. Or, He might just give you a more specific answer in prophecy, using today’s terminology.
In less obvious matters, it takes wisdom to know when you should apply what the Bible says literally, and when the Lord intends for you to adapt it to your situation. The good news is, He has promised you that wisdom: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”1
Fellowship with other believers
Whether you are a new Christian or simply new at hearing from the Lord, you will benefit greatly from fellowship with other Christians who have faith in God, as well as faith in this particular gift of the Spirit. As you start out exercising your own gift of prophecy, the counsel and support of other people with faith, as well as their knowledge of the written Word, will help you balance and benefit from the messages you receive. However, if you aren’t able to have fellowship and interaction with other believers, remember that God is not limited; He can still speak to you, if you’re willing to listen.
Stay utterly dependent on the Lord
Hearing from God takes work. It takes effort. It takes a certain amount of desperation of spirit. Jesus promises that if you ask, seek, and knock, you will receive and find, and the things of His Spirit will be opened to you.2 But He doesn’t say all those things will be delivered to you on a silver platter, with no effort on your part. Don’t get complacent about it, but acknowledge how much you need the Lord, what a privilege it is to hear from Him, and stay eager in spirit to receive His answers.