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What do you think of when I say, "Advanced level of the prophetic?" Do you think of a sharp and keen accuracy in hearing God, to the point where you can get very specific details and words of knowledge? Or do you think of having God's authority and power resonate through your words to break the yoke of bondage off of people and sets them into the center of God's will for them? Or do you think of the ability to accurately predict events before they happen and they take place just as you said they would? Or do you think of speaking forth the creative words of God and watching that which you spoke forth come into existence? Or do you think of receiving angelic encounters and heavenly visions?
Would you like to know what God thinks of when He hears (or uses) the words "advanced prophetic?" He doesn't think of increased levels of revelation or power/anointing (although those things do tend to go with the more advanced levels of the prophetic).
God thinks of three things: character, intimacy and obedience. The higher you move in the prophetic, the more you will have to have your character refined, because God needs to develop more of His image in you in order to trust you with supernatural revelation and His secrets. If you want to hear His voice more clearly, you need to develop a deeper intimacy with Him and get to know Him better. And if you want to move in increased levels of His authority, you will need to increase your commitment to obey Him--to do what He is doing instead of what you want to do.
(Some of you will say that "faith" is obviously missing from the list. That was my impression as well when God first spoke this to me. But the Lord explained to me that as our character and intimacy with Him grow, then faith is a natural byproduct.)
Character, intimacy and obedience almost sound like "the basics" instead of the advanced stuff, don't they?
To tell the truth, those things are basics in the Christian walk, but there are many levels of them. God starts new believers at the "beginning level" of these things. They learn that they need to obey the commands in the Bible and live a holy lifestyle. They discover that they need to practice the basic disciplines of praying and reading their Bible every day. As a result, they start drawing closer to God and they become more aware of His presence in their day-to-day lives. They begin to see the fruit of the Spirit developing in their lives, and they find themselves starting to act more like Jesus and less like their old selves.
At that point, many believers think that they have mastered "the basics" and are ready to move on to the more advanced things of the Christian walk; they are ready to leave the milk and move on to the meat, so to speak. But they have not mastered intimacy, character development or obedience--they have only mastered the "kindergarten level" of them. (Of course, that is all that God expects of them when they are in spiritual kindergarten in their walk with Him, so they are right on course.)
The problem is that many believers don't realize there are more advanced levels in these foundational areas, so they never move on to master the next level, and that stunts their spiritual growth. Think of it like math: in kindergarten, all we require is that the child learn to count. Later they learn to add and subtract, then comes multiplication and division. We don't have any problems with a five year old child who can't multiply three times seven--we don't expect them to know that yet. They are proficient in math if they can count to 100. But they are a sophomore in high school and all they can do is count to 100, we would consider them severely handicapped.
The principle is the same in the spirit. The more you "age" in Him, the more you need to grow in these three areas. If you want to operate in the spiritual gifts, you also need to keep growing in intimacy, character development and obedience.
Ok, now let's get specific about the prophetic. If you want to move in the prophetic, you are going to need to be at a much higher level of the basics than the kindergarten level. And if you want to move in more "advanced levels" of the prophetic, you are going to need the equivalent of God's "college level" of obedience, character and intimacy.
Guess what that means? It means that when you ask God to grow you in the prophetic and make you better at speaking His words, He is going to respond by giving you a bunch of character development lessons. Some of those lessons are going to be painful. He may make you look honestly at areas of your life that you'd rather avoid. He will start holding you more accountable in things like forgiving others, being kind, loving one another, walking in integrity (even when everyone around you cheats in that area), etc.
[I am going to let you in on a little secret from my own recent experiences. I had been praying and crying out to God to grow in the prophetic and in my intimacy with Him. He responded by sending an angel to me, and that angel instructed me multiple times over the past three weeks to teach me how to move into the "next level" of the prophetic.
Would you want to know what the majority of my lessons with this angel have been about? More than half of my lessons have been about character development. If I had been more open to God's work in me, God probably would not have needed to send an angel to instruct me, He could have done it directly. I had asked God to help me grow, and He responded by showing me some character flaws that hold me back from going to the next level with Him. I did not want to look at those areas of my life--I did not want to admit to myself that those flaws were there, so I ignored them. I kept crying out to God and He kept trying to show me the things holding me back and I kept refusing to listen to Him when He answered that cry. So He finally sent this angel to force me to look at these areas and deal with them. Some of these lessons have been decidedly "not fun" while I was going through them, but they are "good" when I get to the other side and can observe a break through in my attitudes and behavior.]
Another thing God will do to answer that prayer (to grow in the prophetic) is to call us into a deeper intimacy with Himself. Increased intimacy usually means that God might require you to choose between Himself and something else that you like to spend your time on--intimacy with God doesn't come cheaply. It requires our time and at times we have to give up certain things of the world that interfere with our relationship with God.
At times God requires even more: He may ask you to demonstrate that you value Him more than you value certain other things (television shows, favorite magazines, computer games, etc.) He may restrict the amount of time you are allowed to spend on a given activity each day, making it substantially less than you would like to spend on it, or it make take it away all together. Then He watches you to see if you obey Him. He wants to see if He is more important to you than this other thing you like. At first it will be very difficult and you will struggle with giving that thing up (or with cutting back on it if God doesn't take it away altogether).
You will discover that He is giving you more of Himself as you give Him a higher priority in your life. At some point, what you gain in intimacy with God will be worth so much more to you than what you had to give up to get it. Let me share a Scripture with you, just in case you don't believe that God might ask you to give up something you love to prove that you love Him more. Check out Genesis 22:2, which says, "Then God said [to Abraham], 'Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.'"
I used to think that if God asked you to give something up to Him, that He would give it back after you decided to obey Him, just like He spared Isaac's life in Genesis 22:12. But I found out (the hard way) that this is not necessarily the case. God made me lay something that I really loved on the altar, which was reading science fiction and fantasy books. I expected Him to give it back to me a little while later, but He did not do that--instead He sent the fire from Heaven to consume the sacrifice. He made me give up something I loved to do fifteen years ago, and He still won't let me do it (even though it is not a sin.) I had to choose between it and Him. I made the right choice and I got Him.
At first it was really hard to give up those books, because my habit was to read myself to sleep every night. But God replaced it with a prayer time, and He began to really meet me during that prayer time, which brought me into a whole new depth of intimacy with Him. Now I don't miss reading those books at all, and I so enjoy the tangible ways that God often meets me during my prayer time.
The third way that God may answer that prayer is to require a higher level of obedience from you. At the kindergarten level of obedience, God celebrates the times that you choose to do it His way instead of the world's way, even if you don't make that choice all of the time. But when you get to the second or third grade, God expects you to obey all the time. He is still pleased with the outward action of obedience even if you have an inner struggle to do what He asks. When you get to the "seventh grade" level of obedience, God looks at the attitude of your heart every bit as much as He looks at the outward action. He won't consider it obedience if you do it with a bad attitude, or with muttering and complaining.
I think you get the picture here--the more you mature in Him, the more He requires that you not only obey Him, but you must do it with a good attitude.
Now here is the clincher. When you pray for God to grow you in the prophetic, you might not see any observable increase in your prophetic ability right away. God might start working on the foundations first--developing your character, building deeper intimacy with Him and calling you to higher levels of obedience and accountability.
If that happens to you, don't be discouraged. God is not ignoring your prayer, He is answering it. He is setting a strong foundation in place so that He can release you to operate in higher levels of the prophetic.