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The Artistic Importance of the Prophetic Gift

The Artistic Importance of the Prophetic Gift

Christine Westhoff

All the prophets were poets” is a phrase we’ve heard from Eugene Peterson, Dr. Ellen Davis at Fuller, and many other theologians, artists, and poets. Perhaps I’d add that the biblical prophets were artists, not just poets. Many prophets, including Abraham, Moses, Ahijah, Elijah, Isaiah, Deborah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Jesus used symbolic actions—without words—to prophesy. Their creative demonstration, action, gesture, movement, or posture was an artistic approach to communicating vital messages to the people. The prophets themselves were arguably some of the most creatively artistic people ever to walk this earth.

Art and prophecy isn’t a new conversation. The most common and well-embraced expression of the arts in most churches today is through musical worship. Within many ministries and churches today, the singers and musicians who lead worship are given space to be led by the Holy Spirit, with space for spontaneous moments of sung inspiration. This is a beautiful way to express inspiration from Heaven and I am so often deeply blessed in these moments. Yet, I often wonder if these singers are being mentored into a more thorough understanding of the true prophetic we see in scripture. For that matter, I also wonder if the pastors and leaders of these congregations have a confident process in place to help the community rightly relate to any inspiration that is spontaneously sung, especially those that may have weighty implications.


Look at David. We often think of David as a king, a worshiper, a warrior, or a poet, but rarely is he referred to as a prophet. Yet David shares more Messianic prophecies than any other prophet in Scripture. Often, in the middle of his lament, his worship, poetry, or praise, he pens seemingly cryptic or even off-topic sentences that end up being fulfilled very precisely in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. I don’t think it is far-fetched to say that the Psalms are hugely responsible for us being able to recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

Truth be told, if we look at David’s prophetic credentials, we could say that the book of Psalms should be one of the primary places in which we should study the prophetic. The prophetic within the arts is not a new conversation. Many people in today’s world discuss prophetic art, but I have found that most of these conversations barely scratch the surface.

  • How do artists prophesy?
  • What is their experience as the Holy Spirit moves through them?
  • How do they relate to the Church at large?
  • How do they influence the local church?

David painted pictures with his words. He prayed violently with his words. He lamented passionately, honestly, and vulnerably through his words, and his words were his art. And his art was often intensely prophetic.

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The Harmony of the Gifts

Within the New Testament prophetic gift and function, we must remember that it is one spiritual gift of many. The prophetic is never to function as a lone-ranger gift. It works in tandem with the rest of the 5-fold. It holds hands with the teachers, the pastors, and the elders of the local church. It mutually submits to the other Holy Spirit grace gifts to build the church into maturity.

All of the gifts of the Holy Spirit share one common purpose. They are all pointing in the same direction, on the same mission. They all point us toward the eternal purposes of Christ, aligning us with the will of Heaven.  They are all working together to transform us into the image of Christ. So what does this look like?

Having Ears to Hear

We have many artists on worship teams, writing songs in their prayer closets that are prophetic messages to the broader body of Christ. We should not presume that the prophetic only moves spontaneously on a Sunday morning. The Psalms were crafted works of art. They had rhyme schemes and poetic formulations that took thought and precision. They were not spontaneous charismatic eruptions in a public worship set. Do we have space to understand the slow work of the Holy Spirit working within a prophetic artist, who carries a message within them for months and months before it is released to the world?

Many worship songs that are being released today carry messages that are birthed within prophetic encounters. These songs are agonized over, prayed through, crafted into a piece of art, and then presented to the church at large. Do we have ears to hear what the Holy Spirit may be saying through these songs? How is the body of Christ to respond to this form of prophetic message? To be honest, many, many churches have no idea how to steward any kind of prophetic word besides words of love and blessing.

The Prophetic in Scripture

The Body of Christ is in desperate need of an upgrade of our understanding of the prophetic in scripture. We are in a moment in church history where we are being turned inside-out. The abuse of power is being confronted everywhere we look. The shallow stage show has lost its luster, and the deconstructors are screaming for a new level of authenticity. Where are the New Testament Jeremiah’s and Ezekiel’s calling us into alignment with the covenant? Where are the ones who are standing on rooftops and seeing visions leading them to the margins? Where are the ones like Ananias who hear the Lord and seek out their persecutors? We need the Macedonian man waving us to bring the gospel of the Kingdom to unsuspecting places.

To give the prophetic its true influence, it must break out of the popcorn box. It must be permitted to shatter the glass ceiling and guide the church into the next era. But for this to happen, we need the prophets to walk in such extreme humility and submission to testing and weighing that it shocks our senses. We need the prophets to walk hand in hand with the other gifts of the Spirit, understanding how they all work together to pave the new pathways forward.

Prophets Are Called to Stand

The prophets are called to stand in their place, anchored in community where they are known, loved, received, cared for, and genuinely pastored. The body of Christ is hungry to see prophets who submit themselves joyfully to healthy leaders who watch over their lives, guiding, teaching, and correcting them in love and receiving their gift in all its stages, even when it’s messy. And we need to have eyes to see and hear how the artistic prophetic is moving in our midst.

What would it look like for confident, humble pastors and leaders who know how to steward the prophetic in their community, working together with elders, intercessors, and discerners as each person offers his or her part? How does the apostolic work together with prophetic artists?

This is what we need to see for the prophetic to mature in its rightful calling and draw His Church into alignment with Jesus Christ and His eternal purposes. This is our call into maturity in our relationship with this gift.

About Reframing the Prophetic

“Reframing the Prophetic: A Biblical Observation of an Ancient Gift” by Christine Westhoff is a pivotal exploration of the Christian prophetic gift. The book challenges cultural misconceptions and invites readers to engage with scripture, guided by the Holy Spirit, for a profound reorientation of this spiritual gift. Endorsed by leading voices in theology and ministry, it’s a guide to discerning true prophetic utterances and embracing the gift’s role in advancing the Gospel.

Reframing the Prophetic


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