Popular international speaker and author Graham Cooke says that everyone is free to prophesy, it should be a lifestyle and not restricted only to church services.
In Australia last week for the FireLight conference organised by Dayspring Church Castle Hill, NSW, Cooke spoke at length with Eternity about prophecy, a debated topic he is well known for. One of the issues Cooke outlined about prophecy is how and when it can arise.
“I think the problem is that people often relegate prophecy to a meeting (at a church), when it’s actually a lifestyle,” says Cooke.
“…anybody who’s in Christ can hear the voice of God for themselves.” – Graham Cooke
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“In the Old Testament, you had a prophetic concentration of the gift, in a small number of people called prophets, because that was a ‘visitational’ culture.
“But the New Testament is completely different: it’s a ‘habitational’ culture because now God lives in us. So now there’s a prophetic distribution of the gift because anybody who’s in Christ can hear the voice of God for themselves.”
When asked to define prophecy, Cooke says it is threefold: “The Bible says that prophecy is for edification, exhortation, and comfort.” As Cooke puts it, that means “building up, stirring up, and cheering up.”
He says prophecy reminds people of who they really are and the peace that God wants to give them. “It’s introducing people to the peace of God, the gift of God, the will of God, in a way that encourages and builds them up.”
While some aspects of the prophetic are futuristic and directional, particularly “when you start moving into the prophetic ministry or the prophetic ‘office’ … the base level is all about edification and comfort.”
“…three people all saying the same thing, from three different places, at three different times – that was a wake-up call.” – Graham Cooke
Among the many futuristic prophetic words Cooke says he has received, one was pivotal.
“In 1975, I received three prophetic words from three different people that all said I would be a writer, and that I would write books, and be in magazines, and be doing interviews and all of that stuff. And that was something I’d never ever thought about. But three people all saying the same thing, from three different places, at three different times – that was a wake-up call.”
Encouraged, he started thinking about how to take practical steps towards what was going to be in his future. At the time, he had never written anything, so he decided to learn how to write.
“I bought a dictionary and a thesaurus, because I wanted to understand words and what they mean, so that I can be more expressive in a way that God would be. Now here I am, 30-odd years later, and I’ve just finished my 23rd book.”
Cooke believes that prophecy isn’t limited to Christians. In his hometown in California, he practises prophecy as an evangelical tool to talk to “pre-Christians.”
“The Bible is just saying ‘love it.’ Love encouraging people. And just go for it!” – Graham Cooke
“Often I’ll talk to people in the street or a coffee place, or sometimes I’ll just sit and people-watch with a cup of coffee, asking the Lord, ‘is there anyone you want to talk to?’” he says.
Cooke carries blank cards so that he’s able to write down what he feels God is showing him. He will then walk over to someone and say, “Hi my name’s Graham, I’m a Christian, and I really believe that God speaks today. And I was just sitting there and I noticed you come in. And the Lord just spoke into my heart something about you. So I wrote it down because I don’t want to invade your space – my phone number’s there if you want to chat to me. Have a nice day!” According to Cooke, this exchange is only awkward for about 10 seconds.
“The Bible says ‘pursue earnestly’, which means you need to be intentional about this. I pursued Teresa my wife earnestly. I wasn’t casual about it.” – Graham Cooke
Most often, he says, someone will read the card and walk back over to him and ask, “how did you know that?” Cooke tells them, “honestly, I don’t know anything; I just heard something. Is it helpful?”
But the bestselling author and speaker says it’s not something that happens without being intentional.
“The Bible says ‘pursue earnestly’, which means you need to be intentional about this. I pursued Teresa my wife earnestly. I wasn’t casual about it, and she ran twice. But I’m a patient man. You always pursue the things you love. So really, the Bible is just saying ‘love it.’ Love encouraging people. And just go for it!”