It’s been a while…

What’s happened to the Accessible Prophecy blog?

Well, as many of you are aware, I’ve got a new book coming out very soon. Which is so exciting!! But getting this book over the finishing line has been a pretty intense process and over the last year I just haven’t had the spare capacity to write blogs on top of the endless rounds of editing.

The blogs will be returning soon!

In the meantime, I’d love you to check out my new book Holy Disruption. It’s an in-depth, Jesus-shaped exploration of the prophetic, in particular looking at what it means to be a prophetic church. It’s a book that celebrates a holistic perspective of the prophetic and that seeks to draw together both charismatic and justice streams. And it challenges us all to welcome the holy disruption God longs to bring through the prophetic: transformation of hearts and neighbourhoods.

It’s out September 1st but you can read the Introduction here.

And check out our Facebook page to keep up-to-date with pre-order dates and things like that.

Advent Reflections 2: O Come, O Come Emmanuel

We are delighted to have Karenza Mahtani write a series of Advent reflections for us over the next few weeks. Karenza is part of the Accessible Prophecy UK team. Art work is by Carolyn Higgins, another member of the team.

Over these Advent weeks, we will be following a similar pattern to the traditional Advent wreath – 5 candles, 5 opportunities to reflect on different parts of the story. What each of these candles represents tends to vary across theological and ecclesiastical traditions, but each representation offers a fresh moment to pause and connect with God. I encourage you to take these moments as we move through this season.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness… For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Armies will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9 v 1 -7

“Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, a Spirit of counsel and strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord…he will judge the poor righteously and execute justice for the oppressed of the land…The wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the goat. The calf, the young lion, and the fattened calf will be together, and a child will lead them. The cow and the bear will graze, their young ones will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like cattle. An infant will play beside the cobra’s pit, and a toddler will put his hand into a snake’s den. They will not harm or destroy each other on my entire holy mountain for the land will be as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the sea is filled with water.” Isaiah 11 v 1 – 9

In the Old Testament, there is an ongoing set of prophetic promises and revelations about the coming Messiah: where he would be born (Micah 5 v 2), what his early life would be like (Hosea 11 v 1), as well as many other prophecies borne out and fulfilled in the accounts of the New Testament. This mirrors much of the historical lineage of promises that we reflected on last week in terms of that first advent candle in the CofE tradition that acknowledges the patriarchs. However, we see this take on a new urgency with the prophets as they long for the coming Messiah, the one who will restore all things. The prophet Isaiah speaks in the above chapters of one who will reign with justice and righteousness, in a kingdom where the strong do not destroy the weak, but instead there is equality and love between them and oppression ceases. As the story of the people of God continues, the prophets continue to speak of this coming King, as well as attempting to call God’s people back to him. However, they witness the people of God splinter, be exiled, fall away, forget about what God has done for them, get distracted and ultimately, despite many returns and short-lived repentances, the story of the Old Testament ends with a period often termed the 400 years of silence. Just waiting. No Messiah in sight.

What must it have been like to be a person aware of the history, longing for the coming of the Messiah, but never seeing it realised? It reminds us of that oft cited line from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – where it is always winter, never Christmas. Those who lived in the darkness, as Isaiah puts it, but who did not see that great light. Those who saw the land repeatedly overrun by the great empires of the day, culminating in the Roman invasion.

How did the people cope? By the beginning of the New Testament, we see that some have retreated into the desert, some have turned to laws and religion and predictable patterns whilst finding others to blame, some have turned to human solutions, political ambition and violence in their ambition to overcome the darkness and oppression around them, whilst others have simply given up. I wonder where you see yourself in that. How do we respond when we are in these long periods of waiting? What disappointments are we carrying? Things you know have been promised, things you have prayed for and not yet seen. Are we one of the faithful remnant, waiting patiently and holding fast to what has been spoken, or have we found ourselves on a different path?

Advent is a time of hope and expectation, but it is also a time of lament and yearning. It is certainly a time of tension between the two – Christmas is coming but not yet. Jesus is coming but not yet. Even in our time, where we know how the prophecies were fulfilled in the birth of Christ, we also know that he has promised to return. There is an ancient Antiphon used during Advent – O Oriens – that says: “O Morning Star, splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” This prayer speaks to the tension we all live in. The now and the not yet. The recognising what has come and longing for what is still to come. Jesus has come and will come again. The Kingdom is here, but is coming more. His justice and righteousness have been established, but one day will be brought to completion.

And so, we are waiting for him to come again. We yearn and pray into the night for his return. We wait with our oil burning, with hearts prepared for Emmanuel to return and set things right. One day, he will wipe away every tear, even though that hasn’t happened fully yet. What a promise to hold on to! But also, when we look at our lives and the world around us, what impatience and grief we can feel that it hasn’t happened yet. We have areas and periods of our lives where we are waiting for certain things -some small, others the deepest desires of our hearts. And we know from Proverbs 13 that hope delayed makes the heart sick. Living with disappointment, asking God how much longer, puts us in great company with all those throughout the Bible and throughout history who receive the promises of God, faithfully believing that they will come to pass, and yet for whom most, if not all, of their lives are spent waiting to see them fulfilled.

I encourage you this Advent to lean into the discomfort of this tension. To celebrate and thank God for all he has done, the promises and words you have seen him fulfil; to celebrate Jesus and make way for more of what he has done and is doing in your life and the lives of those around you. Desire fulfilled is a tree of life. But also, to be honest with God about areas of pain and disappointment, to lament and weep and yearn, to ask God to strengthen your hope and to heal your heart as you wait for Him. Spend some time, listening to the carol, reading the Scriptures, considering the image – whatever works for you- asking God to show those places of disappointment and let Him meet you. And remember that you are joined by the whole of history—patriarchs, prophets and ordinary people—who have longed for the arrival of Jesus into the world and into their lives. Let our cry this Advent be O Come, O Come Emmanuel, and let us be ready to receive him.

Waves of Brokenness and Pivotal Prayers

A small group of prophetic people from across the UK and the US have been meeting together to pray and discern via Zoom since lockdown began, gathered by Cath Livesey of Accessible Prophecy. We offer our discerning to the wider church body, having submitted ourselves to accountability within the Catalyse Change movement, and praying that what we share equips and enables the church to stand effectively at this moment in time. We very much recognise the need for co-discerning in the Body of Christ as we offer these words.

As a group we had been collectively receiving similar words and pictures about tsunami waves and darkness coming over the earth – much of this was before anyone knew about the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. Initially we shared a scepticism of waves as a prophetic word. Waves have sometimes been unhelpfully played up as a ‘move of God’s power’ in prophetic circles without really appreciating the destruction real tsunami waves bring.  But we think this revelation speaks to this time containing not only the Covid-19 pandemic as a wave, but also other waves that are happening now and also are yet to come. We were horrified to find ourselves talking about a potential pandemic of hatred and racism before the senseless murder of George Floyd.

We do not see these waves as coming from God – they are a result of the deep brokenness of our world.  We’ve also sensed something about this season of waves being a God-ordained time: timing that can’t be changed or altered by us.  There is a deeper spiritual, humbling and exposing work that God wants to do in us (his Body) that won’t be rushed, especially in the West.

We see that some of what God is nonetheless doing through and despite these waves are: sifting the church, calling us to prayer, crying out for justice on the earth, releasing provision and seeking the prodigals. We must trust in him in all things as we look to the signs of his kingdom breaking in through the darkness.

Sifting the church: God is refining us: sifting and heating the church to purify it. This is about shaping good leaders who will care for God’s people, and an end to false religion and idolatry in our culture. Will we identify so much of our cultural norms as what they truly are – idols? Things that replace and dull our dependence on God?

There is a shift to leadership culture & praxis coming that will reorientate the church towards Jesus afresh. There is an anointing on teams, collaboration and 5-fold ministry where leadership responsibility is more shared than most current practice. (Ephesians 4.11) We also wonder that there is something of God’s Spirit especially blessing the ministry of smaller churches with a very distinct sense of community/fellowship, mission and awareness of the supernatural battle we face.

Calling us to prayer: Prayer can change the outcome for individual people – minimising harm and enabling people to stand in the chaos of the waves and the spiritual battle going on within them, where demonic and angelic beings seek to either support the people of earth or destroy them. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented prayer. We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him! And he has already won the final victory. There is a lot to say to encourage the church through this imagery so that action and prayer comes from a place of victory and taking heart rather than fear and intimidation. (John 16.33)

Crying out for justice on the earth: We sense the concern of God’s heart for justice. God invites us to deal with each other fairly, no longer oppressing the ‘foreigner, fatherless or widow’ and to end the ‘shedding of innocent blood’ (Jeremiah 7). This speaks to the current wave of social protest about racial injustice, but it is also bigger than that. We must reframe how we do commerce and trade so that the poorest and most vulnerable are protected. Will the church speak up about this? We sense God giving the church a choice – will we more radically side with the vulnerable and oppressed worldwide and take up our local and global responsibility as the body of Christ?

Releasing provision: God is releasing supernatural miraculous provision to those who ask at this time. There will be more than enough. God’s redemptive purposes will be far greater and bigger than any destruction. He is birthing so many new things in this time; we are to pay close attention to what He is doing that is new or unfamiliar amongst us. Financial hardship will force change upon the institutional church that it has been resisting, but this will result in growth, not death. This is God’s provision for the future – sometimes it must get worse before it gets better. (Matt 6.26-34 & Luke 18.27)

Seeking the prodigals: God’s intention is for many, many children to come home to him at this time. We are to pray in the midst of this darkness for a harvest – God’s arms are open to embrace. There is also huge opportunity in terms of a wave of post-Covid health & economic challenges where the church could and should pivot to be a key voice and place of compassion and healing in society. (Luke 15.11-32)

We hope these five points bring hope and encouragement to many church and other leaders who are faithfully grappling to lead with integrity in this time. In all of the anxiety and fear we need to remember that God will lead us through to better days. God will use this time of darkness for so much more. It is always his way – resurrection always follows crucifixion. (Ezekiel 47.1-12)

June 2020

Cath Livesey (Network Church Sheffield & Accessible Prophecy)

Hannah Montgomery (Central Church Edinburgh)

Ed Wethli (St Ferdinands Cranbury Township Pennsylvania)

Anna Evans (Frontline Church Liverpool)

Charlie Baxter (Freedom Church Romsey)

What’s Discipleship Got To Do With It?

Here at Accessible Prophecy we love our coaching huddles! This month I’m training up six new coaches who will soon be starting their own prophetic huddles: the multiplication process that this training represents is a core value for us and a great way to grow healthy prophetic culture in many different contexts.

As many of you know from first hand experience, at the heart of the huddle you find two questions:

            What is God saying to you?

            What are you going to do about it?

These two questions illuminate the fundamental process of discipleship that Jesus presents to us time and again in the gospels, and that he uses at the end of the Sermon on the Mount:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

Discipleship is at the very heart of our faith. The call on our lives is not simply to believe in Jesus but to actively follow him as disciples. To be a disciple of Jesus is to be constantly looking to Jesus to hear what he wants us to do, and then living it out. Disciples intentionally choose to listen and obey.

Discipleship is intrinsically linked to the prophetic. To follow Jesus faithfully requires a sensitivity to his voice: that ability to discern what he is saying to us in the midst of many other clamouring voices fighting for our attention. So if we want to grow a discipleship culture one of the first things we have to do is teach the people of God how to hear him, both in the written Word of scripture and through the ‘now’ words of the Spirit.

But if it’s true that we need the prophetic in order for discipleship to happen, then we absolutely need discipleship for the prophetic to flourish. A mature prophetic culture is one that is thoroughly rooted in discipleship. Without an emphasis on discipleship the prophetic is highly vulnerable to all sorts of pitfalls and hazards, such as lack of accountability, isolation and judgmentalism.

I’m thankful that here in my church in Sheffield we’ve been able to develop a prophetic culture in the midst of a strong culture of discipleship. And this has been so beneficial. It’s meant that the prophetic is rooted in accountability, and done so much to ensure there is a healthy emphasis not just on “What has God said?” but also on “What are we going to do about it?”. It’s meant that even the most gifted prophets see themselves as disciples first, and has helped develop a culture where the prophetic is normalised: we can all learn to hear God’s voice.

A discipling culture brings with it a necessary emphasis on community – we can’t do discipleship in isolation! – and this is vital for a healthy prophetic culture. The New Covenant model of prophetic ministry is very much rooted in community, and we need to create environments where prophetic expression is embedded in strong accountable relationships.

As we seek to grow a discipleship culture in which the prophetic can flourish it’s very important that we don’t confuse the ability to hear God clearly with spiritual maturity. It’s all too easy to look at an anointed prophet who is getting accurate revelation and therefore assume that he or she is a mature disciple of Jesus. Anointing is not an indication of character. Putting the emphasis on discipleship above gifting helps us to embrace wholeness and maturity. It also helps to avoid any kind of spiritual hierarchy.

It’s worth noting that some leaders are reluctant to actively disciple people who are more prophetically gifted than them. The insecure leader is going to ask, “How can I lead this highly anointed prophet who hears God better than I do?” But this is not fully understanding the process of discipleship. Discipling others is not about hearing better; it’s about holding people accountable to what God is saying to them. It’s about calling people to fruitfulness and engagement with God’s Kingdom. It’s about allowing others to imitate us as we pursue relationship with Jesus.

So let’s celebrate discipleship! We can’t grow a healthy prophetic culture without it.

A Change of Perspective

In this month’s blog, our intern Lucy is sharing a testimony of how daily seeking God for vision and encouragement for her situation at work has been a transformative experience. We hope you enjoy reading it.

“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.” Matthew 22:29-31

It’s funny how one little glance at the waves, and suddenly we’re overwhelmed. The idea that Jesus could be stood right in front of us, and yet the moment we choose to take our eyes off him, we find ourselves sinking.

Recently, I’ve felt a little like Peter. Well, perhaps a lot like Peter. I remember, not too long ago, I’d had a very tough week; my new job had become challenging to the point of feeling completely out of my depth. I’d run out of ideas and strength of how to remain hopeful and joy-filled in environments that seemed anything but! Oh the compassion I had for Peter in that moment! Willingly stepping out over the bow of the boat, and being met with battering waves and the feeling of feet slipping.

It was so hard to not look at the circumstances, the trials, and the negatives. I recall being sat on my bed, questioning and wrestling with this, when I felt the Holy Spirit’s presence around me, and in my mind’s eyes I saw perhaps the clearest vision I’ve ever experienced:

I could see around me a war-torn battlefield, which I sensed stretched for miles, although the edges were covered in fog and I could only see a few meters in each direction. I was dressed as a soldier, but I was slumped down on the floor, keeled over. Jesus was knelt beside me, and He whispered to me saying, “Lucy, stand up.” And so in this vision I stood up. Then Jesus whispered to me again, and said softly, “Lucy, step to the left”, and so I obeyed and stepped to the left. Just as I did, an arrow tore out of the fog and went flying past my left-hand side right where I had been standing. Then Jesus spoke again, and said “Lucy, duck down”, so I ducked down, and out
of the fog ripped a huge sword as it came swiping over my head, missing me by a moment.

As I continued to watch the vision progress, I realised that Jesus was giving me moves of how to cross the battlefield whilst remaining unscathed. Jesus, unfazed by the fog, could see the entire picture and every attempted attack, and as long as I obeyed Him, I remained under His shadow and protection.

I remember afterwards, being sat on my bed, thinking, “Jesus, this is incredible! But what does this mean? What does this mean for me at work every day?” And as clear as I’d seen the vision, I felt Him say “Every morning, I want you to get up half an hour earlier and pray to me, asking for a battle-move for that day.”

So, every morning I do just that. My 6:15am alarm goes off, and up I get to pray for that day’s battle-move. And every day, without fail, the relevance of that move is unbelievable. Whether it’s to duck down, and allow everything to wash over me without engaging in any of the negativity; or to lunge forward and strike, reaching out of my comfort zone in order to silence an ungodly belief or bitter attitude.

I don’t think I’ve ever before had a prophetic vision that has transcended beyond a momentary experience in the same way. Perhaps that’s because this is the first time I’ve chosen to engage repeatedly with a vision. If I’m honest, I’m not sure.

But what I do know is that these past few months of walking in this victory have been so hopeful and intentional, and the sense of favour over me at my work place has continued to increase. I no longer rely on my own strength and positivity to get me through the day; rather I completely lean on God’s joy and vision, allowing Him to use me in whatever way He wishes. It’s His vision, not mine, and He will see it to fruition. All He has asked me to do is to obey.

This has been the fruit I’ve seen of daily engaging with God’s word for my work place. Take a minute to think about what situations you are currently in that you are finding difficult, whether that’s at work or at home or at school, etc.
– What is God’s word or vision for this season you’re in?
– How can you practically step into that word and pursue it daily?


Embracing Pruning

I’d suspected it was happening, but confirmation came – clearly and unambiguously – through the words of a trusted friend and prophet as she prayed for me:

“Cath, God has shown me a picture of a bunch of red grapes. In the picture the Lord is receiving them from you and telling you He is really pleased with all the fruit. He is reminding you of John 15 and the importance of abiding in Him so that you’ll bear even more fruit. He is telling you not to fear the pruning.”

Those words resonated profoundly in my spirit: I knew this was God speaking to me, speaking into the reality I was facing at that time where pruning was happening at nearly every level of my life: church, ministry, work, family. I was really thankful for the confirmation, but aware that I needed to know how to fully embrace this process and all that God intended to do through it.

What do we mean by pruning? How do we recognise it? Why does God do it?

As a keen gardener I don’t have any problem with the concept of pruning – I love winter-pruning my fruit bushes in anticipation of the fruit they will bear a few months later. A lack of pruning – or even a half-hearted attempt – will lead to unproductive plants that are not as fruitful as they could be and that ultimately become weak and unhealthy.

Jesus speaks a lot about fruitfulness in the gospels. He expects His followers to bear fruit (which of course is fundamentally about spiritual reproduction) but in John 15 He makes it clear that being pruned is an essential process, intrinsically linked to fruitfulness, and something not to be avoided:

“My Father is the gardener… every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” John 15:1-2

There are seasons in our lives when it’s all about the fruit, times when our focus needs to be on stepping out in faith and going and doing the works of the Kingdom. But there are also seasons when God calls us back to the foundations of our relationship with Him and does some deep work on our character; times when there might be fewer external signs of success.

To help us discern the season we are in it can be helpful to frame the question:

“Is God focussing on my ministry or my character?” Because there are times when God is focussed on what He is doing through us, and times when He is focussed on what he is doing in us. (Of course both are often going on at same time, but there will be a particular emphasis that we need to discern).

As I recognised what was going on for me, and sought to align myself with what God was doing in my life, a wise friend gave me two very helpful pieces of advice:

  • Don’t fight pruning: embrace the season and submit to the process.
  • Hang out with Jesus: do all you can to deepen your relationship with Him and get to know Him better.

So I first of all chose to be thankful for the pruning season, and looked for God’s grace in the midst of it. One of the hardest parts of this was the realisation that in a pruning season you can’t do vision and direction. When God is focussing on your character you can’t expect Him to be saying much about your future. I’m usually someone who loves dreaming with God and being led by a sense of vision. But for a season God was asking me walk without a future vision – with no sense of forward direction – only the command to take one step at a time. I needed to stop dreaming about the future. Instead I had to live in the present and concentrate on doing the small things well.

In responding to my friend’s second piece of advice about deepening my relationship with Jesus I found a great book to read: Brad Jersak’s ‘A More Christ-like God’. It was a joy to spend time simply contemplating the person of Jesus through this wonderful book. I also spent quite a lot
of time reading the gospels, particularly thinking about Jesus’ wilderness experience, and how He chose that intense period of retreat before beginning His ministry. And most significantly of all I started (nearly) every day by sitting down with Jesus and asking Him what was happening in the desert that day. The image of the desert became the metaphor for embracing the pruning process head on. Meeting Jesus in the desert each day and hearing Him speak to me in that place meant that God was able to do some really deep work in my heart. He dug out some ugly and ungodly attitudes and led me through some significant repentance. At times this was pretty painful and a battle to yield fully to this work of major heart surgery, but there is a peace that comes in the midst of the refining process.

This became my prayer:

Jesus, I meet you in the desert.

I come to you with empty hands and an open heart

I simply want to be with you with no agenda.

I render unto you what is yours.

I let go and lay down my dreams and visions

I surrender to your ways and your will

I ask the Father to prune me to His satisfaction

Throughout this process I did loads of journaling and found God was speaking to me through all sorts of ways: blogs that I read, conversations with friends, song lyrics, as well as some significant prophecies. I wrote it all down in my journal.

I also learnt the importance of accountability – having good friends around me who understood the importance of this season and sustained me through their prayers.

I think I’m probably coming to the end of the pruning season, but I’m very thankful for it. I’m most thankful for greater intimacy with Jesus: He’s so much better than we can think or imagine. I’m trusting Him for the future. And the good news is that God is committed to making us more like Jesus and sometimes this means that we need to retreat and simply abide in Him for a while. Using the metaphor of ‘pruning and fruitfulness’ is a good way to keep track of what God is doing in our lives.

The Other Friend

This month’s blog is written by Cassi Frank, who lives in Northern Kentucky and is part of the Accessible Prophecy US team.

As an adult, when was the last time you made a new friend?

I grew up in a big denominational church where the message was about God being great, Jesus being the best example for how to live and the Holy Spirit being an afterthought.  If He was mentioned at all, He was reduced to being your conscience. In middle school, numerous people with a local ministry to students shared that there was more to faith than just believing.  They talked about having a relationship with God, which was a powerful new way to think about faith and I gave my life to Him.  In high school, my youth minister was one of the first adults who spoke about their faith like it was still real, not just something you outgrow at graduation. In college, I learned the necessity of taking risks to increase faith. I wanted more and I wanted to know Him more.

Somewhere in the pursuit of trying to get to know God better and faster, my spirituality turned into an intellectual discipline.  It became just another item on my daily to-do list. A transfer to a different college helped me to turn my faith outward towards the world, but it also grew a belief that we didn’t need the supernatural anymore.  If I spent enough time reading scripture and saying prayers each day, I could figure out the right path, right decision, right spouse, right job, or right place to live on my own.

While I worked hard and desperately wanted to experience God more deeply, I failed to do so. This disappointment along with a bit of bad theology, had me believing that God didn’t speak, heal, or communicate directly with people – at least not anymore. The supernatural may have had it’s time, but not in an “intellectual,” “mature” society. I became convinced that God worked in much more subtle ways, by showing up in a person’s devotion to their faith, by serving others, or by loving those hard to love.  But not by someone having a word of encouragement or knowledge about another they just met.  Not by healing.  Not by tongues. Not by anything else miraculous or supernatural.

My faith was real, but it was … exhausting. It took a lot of work and discipline to read and pray each day without hearing anything back.  It took a lot of stubbornness to insist that following God was the best choice I had ever made when there wasn’t much going on between me and God other than a vague sense of peace I felt most of the time.  On the outside, I had all the “good Christian answers” about politics, how to spend my money, how much to drink or not drink.  But inside, when I was truly honest, I was deeply disappointed.  There had to be something more, because what I had then wasn’t worth sharing.

Six years ago that all started to change. My husband attended a 3DM workshop at a friend’s suggestion.  The relationships and conversations that came from it dramatically changed our faith, our life and our family. They talked about God like a friend they heard from each morning.  They talked about ways God had shown up and done miraculous things in their midst on multiple occasions. They talked about recognising where God was leading and what He was saying confidently.  It was just a normal part of their lives.

I had never wanted something so badly.

I couldn’t read enough, couldn’t attend enough workshops, couldn’t listen to enough of the messages and the teachings.  I found myself asking deep questions.  Questions I had forgotten were even there.  Questions about the possibility of experiencing God on a deeper level.   With these questions in the front of my mind often, I sought out help from others to answer them and engage with God in a new way. As I did, I began to learn the value of the word relationship in many many new ways. In fact, the most influential person in this journey, Cath Livesey with Accessible Prophecy, first said to me, “It’s about learning how to become friends with the Holy Spirit.”

Relationships were what helped shift my spiritual journey from one of striving and discipline to one of friendship.  Being vulnerable in relationships with others who were also seeking to hear and learn what God’s voice sounds like allowed me to be vulnerable with letting God peel away the layers of fear and disappointment that had built up over the years.  Relationships got me into a huddle with Accessible Prophecy where those relationships helped me identify the fear and disappointment I had been blind to for so long.  The people who joined me on this journey didn’t have it all figured out and didn’t claim to be “good Christians.”  They just wanted to know and love this person, our Good Father, better.

The process hasn’t been quick or easy.  The first time we practiced in huddle asking the Holy Spirit what He had to say to us at that moment, I was afraid and a bit panicked. I wanted to believe He would speak, but what if He didn’t?  It was a bit awkward and confusing at first, but the friendships in that huddle encouraged me to continue to practice. I kept trying to ask and listen to what the Father had to say.  I still remember one of the first times I received a picture during a listening exercises.  The Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and I were all sitting on a bench looking out over a still, smooth lake as the sun set behind the trees.  I still remember the peace and comfort I felt there.  Because He is a Good Father, He knew my fear of disappointment and let us all sit on that bench shoulder to shoulder comfortably getting used to this new experience without any more expectation of talking, or of emotional exchanges. He let me sit where I was comfortable and let me know that He was there and wanted to be there.

The Holy Spirit has been gentle with me in removing those layers of disappointment and fear.  It’s taken several years, but I can confidently say I know what his voice sounds like.  I don’t always hear it and I don’t always listen, but I know He speaks.  I know He wants me to hear him.  I know He’s a person and that I can’t just get to know a person by reading about Him.  You get to know a person in part just by sitting in silence with them.  You get to know a person in part by walking around the neighbourhood talking and noticing what’s around you or what they notice.  You get to know a person in part by hearing what they have to say to others. I couldn’t have gotten here on my own.  I’m incredibly grateful for the people along the way who have shared their journey with me and for how the Father uses our own relationships to teach us about our relationship with him.  It’s been through huddle that those relationships have turned into friendships. Those friendships modelled safety where I could step out, try something new and not worry about failure.  Those friendships modelled humility as they held out to me words they heard from the Father, offered them as a gift for me and allowed me to go to Him to hear more about what He had to say.  Those friendships have walked with me as I have learned to be friends with the Holy Spirit a little more each day.

It certainly seems like it gets harder to make friends as an adult. I don’t remember it taking so much work as a kid. Maybe that’s a small part of what Jesus meant when He talked about ‘faith like a child’ (Matthew 18:3). Regardless, I’m glad I’ve put in the work to grow my friendship with the Holy Spirit. It’s been worth every minute.