In the last couple of weeks I heard three notable quotes about messages, in sermons or worship, being “prophetic.” Two were from similar backgrounds but one came from a completely different tribe in the evangelical world. From the more conservative side, Pastor Crawford Lorritts spoke at The Resurgence Conference and, during the Q & A section, he said this:
“Preaching is always prophetic…New Testament preaching is more prophecy to me in the sense of forth-telling…It is a declaration of truth for that moment in history, there is a timeliness about it. Wheras teaching is sort of like the unfolding. There is an urgency associated with biblical preaching and that puts it on the prophetic side.” [He went on to distinguish between this idea of prophecy and the gift of prophecy. I encourage you to see his full interview here so you can see it in full.]
The second quote comes from Beth Croft, a worship leader with Soul Survivor tweeted:
“Prophetic worship… Not necessarily a new song, or even a spontaneous song, simply the right song at the right time.”
The third was from an interview with Brian Johnson [of Bethel Worship] about “prophetic” worship:
“Well, I think anything that has the breath of the Spirit on it. It could be a rehearsed song or an already written song in the right moment. A lot of times I think we can get it wrong with thinking that it’s just a spontaneous song and that’s not true…It could be Here I Am To Worship in the right setting…the right timing.”
I wouldn’t try to summarize the “Prophetic” as simply being the right moment but the common factor that I am pointing out here is the timeliness of a given message either by song or by preaching. I have a strong view of God’s sovereignty and one could argue that any message is always prophetic and I would agree in one sense but there have been moments when a message I’d heard just hit me with a certain…supernatural timeliness.
A Weird Message From God.
A few years ago my wife and I were at a christian concert in New Orleans. We didn’t realize it at the time but concert was for a Catholic youth rally and they just happen to open it up to the public for the concert. During this event an elderly lady sitting a few chairs away from us tapped my wife on the shoulder and said something along the lines of “God wants you know that you are forgiven.” At the time she mentioned it there was no pressing need for her to hear this so we both kind of dismissed it and thought it was a nice gesture from a weird elderly lady.
Months later we encountered some trials that felt a lot like punishment. Theologically, I knew God wasn’t punishing us but the message from the little old lady kept coming to mind and became a very real message from God in the face of this particular trial.
Application In My Ministry.
Last weekend I led worship at our worship services. I had chosen the worship set and was singing through it and listening to God for any adjustments. The chorus and bridge from Give Us Clean Hands kept coming to mind and I thought it might be added just in case the moment called for it. Soon after the pastor asked me if I could add in a song that he would be mentioning in the sermon. It worked well and I figured it made more sense than my “inkling” so changed the set and added the one he mentioned. One service went by and things seemed in line as far as song choices go but the second service there was a line in the sermon that led me back to the Give Us Clean Hands so I sang it even though I had not added the lyrics into the powerpoint. The combination of both songs really seemed to strike a chord in that service. I even had a woman come up to me crying and telling me specifically that BOTH of those songs were exactly what she needed in that moment.
In the third service however, I added the lyrics to the powerpoint and led the song just as I did before and, oddly, it didn’t seem to have the same effect as far as I could tell. I am sure it was beneficial for some while others felt the set went too long in both cases. It’s possible I tried to bridge over one timely moment into an untimely one! Thankfully there is enough grace in our congregation and leadership to allow for me to make such decision.
Put Up Your Antennae.
Even though I felt a bit of a timing roller coaster in that example, I believe there is merit to putting up your spiritual antennae and listening for a timely [maybe even prophetic] message from God and having the boldness to do what you believe you are being asked to do.