My Prophetic Journey

Posted on July 8, 2024

By John E. Thomas

I originally wrote this in 2012 right after Dawna and I moved down to the Dallas area to be with John Paul for the second time. I recently read it and thought how appropriate it is right now and wanted to release it on Streams blog. The last few years have seen people hurt by the “prophetic” and by leaders in the church. I share some wisdom that can help us move forward without having to throw away the church or prophecy.

In 2004 my wife Dawna and I were thrust into the middle of the prophetic movement. We had been learning about hearing from God and all the wonderful ways that He speaks and knew we had to learn more. A comment we had heard John Wimber make multiple times in his teachings, “The things of the kingdom are more caught than taught,” haunted us. We decided that we would move to New Hampshire where John Paul Jackson had started a prophetic community so that we could grow and learn.

We quit our jobs, packed up our house, and drove from Phoenix, AZ to New Hampshire and started a new life. It was wonderful and difficult.

So many natural things (like actually making money for working) that we had taken for granted were pulled out from under us and we quickly lost our savings to pay bills. We learned what it means to live by faith and rely utterly on the Lord. We had left our support system of family and friends in Phoenix and had to learn how to trust people we had just met.

At the same time God showed up in ways we had never imagined. We had visitations, dreams, visions, and experiences in God and were around people that could help us understand what was going on. We experienced the presence of the Lord in corporate gatherings in ways we had only read about and learned much about intimacy with Holy Spirit. We grew in prayer and spiritual warfare and learned how to cling to Father God in the midst of trials and testing.

It was truly wonderful and difficult. We wouldn’t change it for anything!

In the next couple years, I became an instructor for Streams Ministries, teaching the courses John Paul Jackson had written about hearing God and interpreting dreams. Around the same time John Paul asked us to pastor a church he had planted in the Boston area, The BRiDGE Metrowest.

This started a whole new season of immersion in the prophetic movement. We had a call to provide training and refreshing for New England, so we held conferences on a regular basis. During the 5 and 1/2 years we pastored The BRiDGE we held dozens of events, most based on the prophetic.

Because of the deposit that John Paul had left in the church prophetic people from all around New England were drawn to our body. We even had one couple that drove 3.5 hours one-way to come to church! God began to move.

We had seasons of revival, we saw thousands of miracles (from tumors disappearing, multiple sclerosis healed, lame walking, deaf hearing, cancer defeated, and more), we equipped many to hear from God and recognize His presence, and we faced a whole new level of warfare.

Then in 2011 Dawna and I handed over the church to my best friend and started to itinerate, teaching on the prophetic and prayer, as well as working with leaders on how to cooperate with God in what He is doing.

We have had opportunities to sit around the table with our heroes—the people we look up to as spiritual leaders—and to glean from their experience and add it to ours. We ask them the questions we don’t hear anyone answering. We talk through what we’re seeing and find out how they dealt with it ten, twenty, and in some cases thirty and forty years ago.

I mention all this for a reason—during this time we have seen a lot and learned a lot. We have seen the best and the worst of the prophetic movement. We have seen lives transformed and renewed and we have seen people offended and hurt. We have seen people healed from life-threatening diseases and in the same season buried friends and family dealing with the same diseases. We have seen true visitations of the Lord and we have seen deceiving spirits pretending to bring ‘prophetic’ messages. We have seen ministers with maturity and character, and we have seen others that we could not say the same for.

In all of this, we kept going back to the Lord and asking this question, “What are you trying to teach us? How can we cultivate this and not do that?” I have seen too much to ever think that this is all fake. I have also seen too much to think that it is all real. In the midst of it all I have learned how to maintain faith and hunger for the real while not swallowing the fake, and how to distinguish the false from those that are just immature.

The Body of Christ is in desperate need of discernment in this hour. Because charismatic experience and prophetic revelation is becoming more and more accepted in the Body of Christ our enemy has changed his tactics somewhat. A couple decades ago he would try to get the Church to think it was all fake. He still does that to some degree, but not as much. Now he is also trying to get the Church to think it is all real.

When most people think about the prophetic, most of us picture someone giving or receiving a prophetic word, a personal prophecy. This is one function of the prophetic, but it is only one. It is also the function of the prophetic that is most commonly counterfeited. There is so much more to the prophetic!

When this is what we think the prophetic is there are a few things that naturally come from it:

One, we think that all prophetic ministry should fit within the guidelines given to public prophetic utterance in 1 Corinthians 14. This is true for those operating in the Holy Spirit’s gift of prophecy found in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, but is it true for those that are called to a prophetic ministry or office? What about prophetic blessings? Warnings? Direction? Counsel? Prophetic intercession? Or the many other functions of the prophetic in Scripture?

Two, the prophetic becomes all about the person giving and/or receiving. We judge it by personal experience instead of Biblical fruit. We look for accuracy versus the fruit of the Spirit being developed in the minister or the one being ministered to. We look for the “wow” factor versus the impact of true transformation in those that receive. We reduce discernment to not offending versus looking for the presence of the Spirit of Truth.

Three, we will naturally end up violating the injunction of 1 Thessalonians 5:20. Realize that when Paul says, “Do not despise prophecies,” the word despise literally means, ‘make little of’. Paul’s point is that we don’t treat prophecies as common. That we give them the value they deserve. Many times, those that hear a lot of prophetic words end up despising prophecies the most. They begin to treat them as common and forget the beauty and high value we must put on something that our Lord has said. (I know much could be said, and needs to be said, about judging the words. But once they have been judged as from God let’s treat them as such!)

We have had a lot of teaching in the last 30 plus years about prophetic ministry and hearing from God, but it is time for more. We need to go back to the basics and also move on from them. It is too easy to get caught up on side streets and find ourselves fascinated (in the original meaning of the word) with spiritual experiences and angelic visitations and miss the intent of heaven—He speaks to develop relationship.

We need to strip it back to the core, it is God we are trying to hear, as well as take it beyond, He is doing a lot more than encouraging us. God is after the “restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21) and He is looking for co-laborers. Let’s bring the prophetic movement back to the only true foundation, the Word of God, while remembering that He promised even greater works to those who believe (John 14:12).

In His love,

John E. Thomas

John has developed a course called “Practical Prophetic Ministry—training for ministering in the prophetic today” available in Streams online classroom and part of both Core Access and All Access. That course deals with these issues and other’s such as:

  • Does God Speak?
  • Old Testament Versus New Testament Prophecy
  • Inaccurate Versus False Prophecy
  • Functions of the Prophetic
  • Types of Revelatory Gifts
  • Role, Ministry, Office
  • 5-Fold Ministry and the Prophetic
  • Emotionally Healthy Prophetic