Several years ago I started a blog series called prophets vs. posers and I’ve been wanting to add to it since this summer with the following post.
A while back I was in the midst of a difficult environment. There were blatant abuses of power, silencing of women, and a host of other things and dysfunctions driving the culture of this context. I was able to see and discern what was at the heart of many an injustice, but yet was not in a position to do anything about it.
The weight of seeing, but being powerless to act was starting to get to me. I believe a main difference between pure gifts of discernment and prophetic functioning rests in the drive or innate calling to act (which usually involves speech specifically). Being powerless and without a voice when seeing injustice or abuse of power works against the grain of one who has been made to act or speak out.
It was in the midst of struggling with the tension of having vision, yet being powerless that I was blessed with some of the greatest wisdom I’ve ever received from a friend and mentor. It has shaped my life for many years now and changed both the way I see and the way I handle situations in which roads to action and opportunities for speech are closed.
My friend suggested that maybe having gifts in this area lend themselves just as much to intercession, maybe more so, than others. I think intercessory prayer can look different and many are gifting in praying for people in a caring or shepherding type of manner. But my friend suggested that perhaps there was a different ministry of intercession that existed for those who see injustice and can recognize when only a work of the Lord can change hearts among those who can influence outcomes.
It makes sense doesn’t it? Who else could pray in the face of the subtle glimpses into the dark side of leadership that works its way into how people go about their business and relationships besides those who have been uniquely gifted to see some of those things beneath the surface and recognize the sometimes not so obvious ways in which people are in bondage, being silenced or manipulated either by others or their own dysfunction?
I believe those who have prophetic gifting expose themselves as authentic prophets or posers through the degree to which they are interceding in prayer for their “systems” or contexts. To see brings a responsibility. Sometimes action is possible and required. But in all moments of “seeing”, prayer is vital. Prophets who are posers do not pray. They act out of their own instincts and self-interest.
Those who steward God-given prophetic gifts to identify injustice or wrongs and speak into them, first and foremost need to be using their spiritual vision to pray. Here is some of the fruit of the praying prophet:
1. Praying tests one’s own heart and lets the Spirit rid one of any temptation for self-righteous action or judgment.
2. Praying softens one’s heart towards the people that are being oppressed or hurt or silenced. Prayer keeps the focus on the community implications of such dynamics on real people and not just about “what’s right or wrong.”
3. Praying softens one’s heart towards the perpetrator’s of injustice. Whether it is through personal sin, controlling policies, abusive behavior, or just general power tripping – prayer guides the prophet to the place of compassion for his “enemy” (a fair analogy for historical tension especially between prophet & king) in the battle for what most honors God. Prayer is perhaps the only place that can guard the prophet from seeing those in power as evil themselves sometimes. Prayer, over that which is seen, guards the prophet from developing a hard heart towards often very fragile and limited people doing foolish and hurtful things for their own self-preservation.
4. Prayer leads to dependence on divine intervention to transform whole communities and systems. The only people that would think to pray about the whole underlying fabric of one’s leadership culture and power structures are those who have the vision and sight to see them for what they are in the first place.
This is the ministry of prophetic intercession. If the prophets don’t pray for what often only the prophets can see in the first place – well there’s no one else who will! And injustice, injustice at all levels, needs first and foremost a concerted focus of God’s power released through passionate and praying people who see.
Personally, I don’t consider myself I prophet. But I do tend to function this way in community. Yet while I have long been aware of gifts in discernment and truth speaking, I never used to consider myself as having a unique calling to prayer outside of a normal prayer life. Thanks to my friend many years ago, that has changed. I don’t consider myself a “prayer warrior”, but in some ways I have become much more of one now that I recognize some of how God has uniquely positioned me sometimes to be praying for things that not many others will be mobilized to be praying for.
I sometimes see things that not everyone sees. That leads me to pray prayers that not everyone else is praying. Those prayers are vital to God’s work of redeeming situations. Those prayers are also important to my ongoing transformation and growth in the Lord through these situations. This is the gift of prophetic intercession. If we function prophetically but fail to embrace this calling that is foundational to our actions then we miss maybe the most important part of how God truly wants to use us in any given situation.
I’m grateful for this offering of wisdom and discernment from my good friend for its impact on my life and I’m thankful for the opportunity to pass this nugget on to anyone who has taken the time to have read this.
Can you relate at all?
Are you a leader who sees? Does your seeing lead to praying?