I often talk about prophetic intercession here at Out of the Fire. Many of you may already pray prophetically on a regular basis without a second thought about it — but what about those who don’t know what prophetic prayer is or how to step into it? In this post, I’m going to share how I go about it.
I sometimes pray with people I don’t personally know, often by phone. The needs are usually serious, and most of the time, I initially feel overwhelmed. When we begin to pray, I don’t have the first idea in my natural thinking about where it’s supposed to go or how to get there. These are the steps I take to go from being clueless to praying by the understanding of the Holy Spirit. They are really quite simple, and I hope they will help you, if you are lacking confidence that you can pray prophetically. If I can do it, anybody can!
1.) Once the person has stated her need, I silently ask the Lord for His assistance. This is quick — only a few seconds.
2.) I often suggest that we begin prayer by praising the Lord together briefly. Extolling His goodness sets the right atmosphere for hearing the Holy Spirit. It also shifts the person for whom I am praying from thinking exclusively about the problem to putting her focus on the Lord and His unlimited ability to intervene with His answers. The amount of time we spend praising the Lord is usually brief — perhaps a minute or two. It varies.
3.) I am quite likely to shift into praying in tongues during this praise time, until the flow of the Spirit takes over. (I usually ask the person if she is familiar with praying in tongues, so that I don’t distract or unsettle her by praying that way if it is something she is not acquainted with. Occasionally, I have had to briefly explain what tongues is, but I have never had anyone get angry with me or forbid me to pray in my prayer language for her.)
4.) While praising and praying in tongues, there comes a moment when I feel ready to step into praying in English. By this time, an idea may have formed in my mind for how to start, but often I still don’t have clear direction on how to pray. I simply expect the Lord to adjust my prayer as I go.
Sometimes people think they don’t have anything to begin with in prayer unless they have electric shocks going through their body, or they hear thunder, or they receive a whole outline or paragraph of how to pray. It doesn’t usually work that way with the Spirit. He might plant a single word in your mind to get you going, but often there is nothing more than a faint nudge that it’s time to begin. It is a step of faith to launch out with little or nothing to go on other than what the need is, but the Lord will be faithful to give you what to pray as you go along. This is what prophetic prayer is all about – going with the flow of the Spirit, riding on the gentle breezes He provides.
5.) Once I have begun, whatever comes to mind is what I vocalize in prayer. Sometimes thoughts come that I sense are not from myself and I just pray them. I find myself speaking things I hadn’t thought out first. A word or phrase seems persistent, and I pray it. Or I get a picture in my mind, and pray from that. I may not even be aware that I am praying things the Spirit is giving to me, but later on it is confirmed by the person I am praying with.
6.) Occasionally, I stop to ask the person about what I am receiving: “I keep hearing the word ‘________,'” or, “I keep seeing a picture of ‘_________.’ Does that mean anything to you?” Most of the time I simply pray it out without asking, but there are times I do stop to inquire.
7.) At times, while praying, I feel like I have hit a zone of praying something which is just right — something which I could only have gotten from the Holy Spirit. At other times, I don’t sense anything in particular, but the person tells me afterward that I prayed exactly what was needed.
8.) Gifts of the Spirit such as the word of knowledge, prophecy, the discerning of spirits, or the word of wisdom may manifest in the process of praying. Occasionally, I get a clear prophetic word which I deliberately share with the person as prophecy, but more often than not, any prophetic understanding I have will simply be released in what I pray. I sometimes receive words of wisdom, so I share those if they come. A word of wisdom can involve a supernatural solution which can be applied to the problem.
I hope that this breakdown of how prophetic prayer works will help you to gain confidence that you can be led by the Holy Spirit in prayer. Many of the steps I’ve shared here for praying one-on-one with others can also be adapted to your personal prayer time and group prayer settings.
Prophetic prayer is not about our skills or talents. It’s all about relaxing and trusting the Holy Spirit to lead. We simply follow the little nudges He provides, in faith, and let Him do what He wants to do through us.