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Do you believe that when God calls you it is for a specific time and purpose or is it for as long as you live? I had a season of great prophetic outpouring in my life about 3 years ago. God would speak to me and I was able to minister powerfully. He lead me into even writing a book and other great things. Then my family moved to another state, and everything dried up. I no longer feel the intense hunger for His words and the ministry just disappeared as if it never occurred. I have prayed about it and I am starting to believe that maybe my assignment is over. Can you give me some insight on this?--Potentially Past My Prime
Dear Potentially Past My Prime
I do believe that there are times and seasons of more intense ministry, and seasons of inactivity where it almost feels like you have been put temporarily on a shelf. But I do not believe that God gives you a prophetic gift "for a season," and then takes it away from you. That would be inconsistent with Romans 11:29, which says, "For God's gifts and His call can never be withdrawn" (NLT).
That verse leads me to believe that when God places a calling on your life, He follows through with it; when He gives you a spiritual gift, He would not take it away.
Some people say that you have to "earn" your gift, and that He will take it away from you for bad behavior. I do not agree with that. If you look at Romans 11:29 in context, you will see that Paul is talking about the rebellious Jews, who had rejected their Messiah. Paul's argument is that even though they are rebellious right now, they will one day come to receive their Messiah. Their bad behavior towards God will not disqualify their nation from receiving a major revival where most of them will be saved. Look at the verse in context, found in Romans 11:25-29 (NKJV):25 I want you to understand this mystery, dear brothers and sisters, so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ. 26 And so all Israel will be saved. As the Scriptures say, 'The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness. 27 And this is My covenant with them, that I will take away their sins.'"
28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
I have heard people say that you have to "pay the price" for the prophetic, which is another way of saying that you earn the gift. I personally disagree with that, because if you "earn" the gift, then it isn't a gift; it is a reward. However, Romans 12:6 does not talk about "spiritual rewards," it talks about "spiritual gifts." It does not say we get the "reward of prophecy," but the "gift of prophesy." (The "price" you pay is not for the gift, but for maturity. God does not give the gift of prophesy to everyone, but He does expect all of His children to grow and mature in Him. That is character development, and that often comes with a price. But it is a price that every single is expected to pay.)
Spiritual gifts are not given to build up your self-esteem or to increase your personal status in God's kingdom. According to 1 Corinthians 14:3-4, they are to encourage and strengthen and comfort the body of Christ. With that in mind, it is hard to think of the season where the "need" the prophetic passes away. God is not going to wake up one day and say, "I don't think I need to encourage My body any more. I encouraged them for years and years, so now they have to make due with remembering My encouragements of the past." I don't think the need for the gift of prophecy will go away before Jesus returns. And since God did not give you the gift of prophecy for your own sake, but to build up the body of Christ, I don't think He would give that gift to you and then take it away from you. That just would not be consistent with how God thinks and acts.
However, there are three factors that can effect your ability to move strongly/effectively in the gift of prophecy. If one of them is missing, it could stunt (or seriously impair) your ability to flow in the prophetic. They are: 1) our personal relationship with God, 2) maturity, and 3) opportunity.
Our Personal Relationship With God--The prophetic flows from a place of deep intimacy and personal relationship with the Lord. The prophets in the bible walked very close to God. Intimacy with God is what gives us ability to hear God's voice clearly so that we can speak accurately for Him. When we slip far away from God, most of us are not able to hear His voice as clearly. If we fall out of our deep personal love relationship with Him and remain out for some time, then I do believe our prophetic spark begins to grow dimmer. If that is the case, then the only way to reignite it is to press in to God and grow closer to Him.
Maturity--There is a saying that "God is more interested in your character than in your gifting." Gifting is something that comes from Him, but character is an inner quality that is grown/developed and refined over time. When God gives you the gift of prophecy, He does want you to grow in your ability to use that gift for His plans and purposes, to become skilled in learning to do what He is doing. But He also remains concerned about your character and maturity--the things that drive you and your motivation for using that gifting. If you are in a place where your gifting has grown faster than your character, there is a good chance that God will put you in what I call a "character development module." That means He will put more emphasis on refining your character than on giving you opportunities to move in your gifting. He is not taking away the gift when He does that, He is just putting a short-term emphasis on your growth/maturity over your gifting.
Opportunity--There will always be opportunities to move in your spiritual gift, but you may not instantly recognize all of them. If you are used to a certain type of opportunity and it goes away, you have to keep your spiritual eyes pealed to recognize new opportunities.
Let me give you an example. I used to go to a church that regularly allowed its members to release prophetic words during the worship part of the service. I changed churches to a church that did not have that built into their service. If I looked at the prophetic as "giving words during the service," then I would not have had any opportunities to prophesy after I changed churches. But instead, I looked at the prophetic as finding out what God is doing and saying, then doing what He is doing. The Lord began to open my eyes to people in the congregation during worship, and I would slip out of my seat and make my way next to them, and share what the Lord was saying to them. God did some incredibly powerful things in those one-on-one prophecies. Also, He began to show me a lot of people who were hungry to learn how to prophesy, so I asked the pastor if I could teach a how-to course on prophecy. Prophetic ministry teams grew out of that class, and now our church has prophetic ministry teams that minister on a regular basis. But we still don't have corporate prophetic words released during the worship time in the main Sunday service.
The point is that the opportunities that God gives you to prophesy may change from what you are used to. If one "form" of opportunity goes away, that doesn't mean He has taken the gift away. It may mean that you have to open your eyes and see what form the opportunities to prophesy now present themselves in. Ask the Lord to show you what He is doing and then empower you to do it with Him.
I have tried to answer your question somewhat empirically. But now I would like to throw out a personal observation as well, that you might find helpful. It sounds like you had a spiritual support system built into your previous church/location. That system seems to have "gone away" when you moved, and it sounds like you are in a bit of a spiritual desert. You said that "everything dried up. I no longer feel the intense hunger for His words and the ministry just disappeared..." It might be that the reason you are not seeing the prophetic operate in your life is because you are in a desert place in your walk with God. My advice to you is to press in to God and cry out to Him for a more intimate walk. Personally I find it helpful to spend long periods of time reading His word when I feel spiritually dry. Also, playing worship music you like in the background will help you rekindle the "fire." I think that you will discover that after your intimate relationship with God is restored, you will see the prophetic start to flow in your life again.