My youngest daughter recently celebrated her friend's birthday. It's fun celebrating people on their birthday, helping them feel loved, and surprising them with a gift that'll bring them more joy. One of the best parts of getting a present, isn't just opening it to see what's inside the wrapping, it is playing with what you get inside!
For a new believer in Christ, the best part of salvation is not just "fire insurance," (a coverage at death that we won't go to hell but instead go to heaven), it's unwrapping the gift inside of us and playing with it, which is the joy that comes with ongoing fellowship with Holy Spirit!
The Bible mentions several gifts of the Holy Spirit which He distributes as He chooses (1 Corinthians 12-14). It also mentions that we should eagerly desire the gifts, especially prophecy. Now, the Bible would not tell us to pursue these gifts if God didn't want to give them to us.
The gift of prophecy is the supernatural ability by the Holy Spirit to give a message from God. It is conveying His heart and mind with others. 1 Corinthians 14:3 defines the purpose of prophecy: "the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort."
As you explain to your child what prophecy is and the biblical foundation to love people and share the Father's heart and thoughts about them, they can then ask the Holy Spirit for this gift and have confidence that He will give them this gift (Matthew 7:7-11). Sometimes, we have to activate the gift and as we use it, we grow in our gifting.
Here's one way you can do this. First, be sure you teach your children some of the ways God speaks, like through a feeling or impression they get, an inner thought, and even an image in the mind's eye, or what Graham Cooke refers to as the sanctified imagination. Then, tell them to keep love in mind and ask the Lord for an image or animal that He wants to use to describe how He feels about someone you know. Once they get an impression, they can then begin to share what they feel like this image means about the person and the instruction is that it must strengthen, encourage, and comfort the person they would be prophesying over.
With my children, we often like doing this activation exercise before bed. We ask the Lord for a shape or we ask for an animal then determine who the word of prophesy is for. My 9 year old got an image of a gorilla for her 6 year old sister. At first, I was concerned this was going to go sour because my first impression (in my natural way of thinking) of a gorilla wasn't a positive one but I kept quiet, trusting my daughter can hear from the Lord and experience His heart and thoughts. She then shared that she could see a gorilla and felt that God was saying her sister is strong, powerful and brave. She began giving examples of how she could see her sister display this kind of courage and bravery. These examples were not things she had seen yet, but she was calling her into the the things she felt God was revealing about her revealed character in Christ. I was blown away by the words that my daughter shared. I didn't even think of the things she mentioned and felt assured that this came supernaturally.
One thing to note is that as someone is prophesying, there is a grace for others to activate or exercise their gift too and I started to have ideas that I didn't think of originally when she first mentioned a gorilla. I asked if I could add to this prophetic word. (Getting someone's permission to prophesy is also important to us and a way of showing honor.) I shared that she is like a king of the jungle and when she is in a wild situation that is chaotic, she is the person who brings order, structure, and peace.
We typically check in with the person to see how the word resonated (this gives us feedback on how we are hearing from the Lord and allows people to know they are able to reject the words given) but before we finished, she was hugging her sister and kissing her all over her face. Needless to say, prophesying God's heart is a wonderful gift to express.
Share this article to equip families and their children to exercise the beautiful gift of prophecy which encourages others around them with the Father's love.