prophecy and spiritual direction

i don’t come from charismatic stock (i mean, my people have plenty of personality, but not charismatic theology or practice). i’m not, howver, a cessationist (is that how it’s spelled?). frankly, i’m kind of ambivilant about the whole thing. it’s not really something i long for, or something i’ve afraid of.

so, being at soul survivor is an interesting space for me, as their fairly ‘into’ the charistmatic gifts (this year more than last year, as it connected more with the theme of ‘in spirit and in truth’). i’ve appreciated how mike pilavachi has explained things like praying for each other, ‘ministry time’, and even prophecy. basically, he ‘normalizes’ the whole thing, and takes away (or tries to) any spiritual heirarchy from those who have experiences and those who don’t.

he told a hilarious story the other night of the first time he experienced prophecy (as in, experienced himself being the deliverer). after telling all the students that prophecy is only meant to be for encouragement and building others up (never for criticism or correction), he went on to talk of how he really wanted, years ago, to deliver a prophetic message to someone. some guy who was known to be quite prophetic was coming into town to meet with a group of ministers and spouses, and invited mike to join him. mike was totally sweating it, as he’d never delivered a prophetic message to anyone. he was praying like crazy, begging god to give him something profound to say (i love how self-effacing mike is). when they stood with the first minister couple, they prayed for a few minutes, then the prophet guy said something profound to them, including a passage from scripture he felt god had for them. mike continued begging god to give him something, and he said the only thing that kept coming to his mind was the ABBA song “dancing queen”. he was a bit ticked at god, and prepared to say nothing. the prophetic dude turned to mike and asked him if god had given him anything to share with the couple, and he mumbled “you can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life”. as soon as he said it, he wanted to run, thinking he’d just made the biggest fool of himself. the couple started laughing, and he was sure they were laughing AT him. the prophet guy asked why they were laughing, which ticked mike off, because he thought it was obvious they were thinking he was a total loser. but the revealed that the wife had recently begun a dance ministry in their church, and on the way over that evening, she’d expressed that she was thinking how ridiculous it was that she’d started that ministry, and that she should end it.

somewhere in the midst of mike describing this, i was struck by the similarities between the charismatic/pentecostal practice of prophecy, and the ancient/new practice of spiritual direction. there are probably very few people who are into prophecy who practice spiritual direction, and the other way around also.

my wife, jeannie, finished a two year course in spiritual direction last december, and meets with a handful of ‘directees’ each month now. i meet with a spiritual director once a month also (though she’s gone for the summer). a spiritual director helps you listen to god. they don’t give advice (mike clearly said the point of prophecy isn’t to give advice). mostly, they ask questions, along the lines of “what do you think god might be saying to you about that?” or “where do you think god was in that experience?” (i’m oversimplifying it, but it’s probably fair to say i’m oversimplifying prophecy also.) there is a significant difference, of course: a spiritual director would (or at least should) never say, “here’s what i think god is saying to you.” but while someone exercising prophecy may say that, they’re supposed to do so with a humble attitude that reflects an attitude of “i could be wrong about this”.

anyhow. i think it would be fascinating to get a few spiritual directors and a few humble prophecy peeps in a room and listen to them talk about their ministry and approach, the differences and similarities. i’m thinking there’s a ton of overlap, yet a mostly different vocabulary.

anyone want to chime in?

5 thoughts on “prophecy and spiritual direction”

  1. hey marko – i love that abba story! only the holy spirit has that kind of sense of humor!

    this is happening in our new community (and has been before we arrived here) – mike p just spoke at their national gathering and knows ‘my new people’ well.

    i can hook you up with contemplative charistmatics (vineyard canada is strong in this) if you’re interested.

    i agree with you in the connections and similarity you are sensing. i have participated in both – spiritual direction with beth slevcove and recently with prophecy on the likes of ‘dancing queen’ example and both have that strong scent of the holy spirit flowing between them.

    i think they have touched a part of the holy spirit’s movement that is not in the public, upfront ‘power’ – but the quiet, reassurance and revelation that is meant as mike said to build up and confirm. it’s beautiful to participate in. lots of images, metaphors and pictures. not at all like the ‘fortune teller’ type of prophecy i was raised to believe charismatics believed in.

    it’s late and i’m not sure any of this is making sense – but i’m tracking with you.

  2. Hi, Marko!

    Sorry to barge in here… did you get my (sad) adoption emails? :-( As you can imagine, we’re still reeling over here… Anyhow, interesting topic.

    I’ll throw in a third category if that’s okay: those of us Christians who have Priests. My family worships at an Eastern Orthodox Church (Greek Archdiocese). I go to my Spiritual Father for Sacramental Confession one to three times per month, though he does give (always helpful) counsel in the Confessional. Weekly, he administers the Holy Mysteries (Christ’s body and blood) to us during the Divine Liturgy.

    I see some connection here, too, to the charismatics and the “spiritual directionists,” but can’t quite put my finger on it..?

  3. I go to a spiritual director which started as part of a 2 year course I took in Spiritual Formation. I love the old becoming new again when it comes to spiritual practices. I have also been to some conferences that are very into the prophetic. I think you are right when the prophecy is humble and pure there are a lot of similarities – the bare bones of each is about listening to God.

  4. Similar to bobbie’s comment, the Vineyard church I attend has some of it’s roots in vineyard-style charismatic/prophetic, and has grown tremendously in the contemplative in the last few years. My pastor sees a spiritual director, and I know of at least one woman trained in spiritual direction in our body. I think there is a growing sense of connection between these practices in our community.

  5. I cant see I have seen a lot of groups bring those together….but I have noticed certain similarities at times…more through reading ancient contemplatives and thinking about how some of their thoughts and beliefs relate and dont relate to charasmatic stuff today.

    But I think both traditions are often better than half-hearted mainliners and more traditional evangelicalism which are stuck in the middle with no sense of the spirit whatsoever

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