Tuesday, October 30, 2007


A Letter About What Prophetic Art Is

I thought I'd share an email I received from a sister in Christ last year (August '06) asking about what "prophetic art" is. I wrote a response which I thought was worth sharing here. At that time I was still a bit uncomfortable with calling the art God had given me "prophetic art", but as I've mentioned recently, God's helped me past that self-imposed shyness. (^_^)
Hi Ramone,

I've enjoyed your pictures ... While looking at your recent "Swimming" artwork [1,2], I browsed through your Tatami Gallery. Under "Early Pics", I saw that you wrote about first getting involved it. I was really fascinated by how you described God working through your creativity to reveal, and teach, while also glorifying and worshipping Him. I went to the link for Gwen Meharg and visited her website where she mentions "prophetic art". I visited the forum for prophetic artists on that webpage to try and find out more about it. What exactly is prophetic art?

I'm really fascinated by this, but I'm not real sure I completely understand it. I don't even understand it enough to know how to ask about it. I guess what I'm trying to get at, is that I think this may be something I'm interested in "trying out". I have played around with sketches my whole life. I've always loved the idea of drawing -- I've taken several art classes before, and doodle ALL the time. I've mostly drawn still life type of things, and lack the creativity for more abstract drawings although that's the type of art that I appreciate the most. I'd love to be able to "release" this creativity if possible by God's Spirit. Your experience and others really speak to me. Music is my primary outlet for worship (which I love as well), but I think that worshipping through art may be another way God is calling me to worship Him. I'm not certain until I really try, I guess. But how does one start? The idea of "being moved by the Spirit" is still pretty new to me...

In Christ,
A Sister in Him
(My reply)

Hi Sister in Jesus,

Prophetic art... I don't usually use the term, even though technically it's correct. The reason I don't is probably because a lot of the stigma associated with the word... it can either sound wacky, or like you're trying to elevate your art, or something like that. But essentially, that's definitely what it is: It's art received from God. Pictures from Him. [10/2007 note: He's helped me reconcile with the term 'prophetic art' as I've mentioned already.]

Yes, it's all connected to knowing the Holy Spirit. The idea that He can and does directly communicate to us is something that I didn't grow up with, either. I didn't know it was a big, big part of our inheritance in the New Covenant! But you know, we're used to the idea that Satan can put thoughts in our head and even can put disgusting pictures in our mind, so why can't God do the same thing with His thoughts and pictures? Basically we haven't been taught that God can do this stuff... we've heard mainly that the Spirit only speaks through the Scriptures. But the Scriptures do not say that the Spirit is confined to speaking through Scripture---Scripture only says that what we hear from spirits must be tested by Scripture. God can and does speak to us outside of the Scriptures, but never against them.

The idea of Him giving pictures to people is something I first ran into in late 2000 when I began my exodus from Adventism. I was led out of Adventism by the Holy Spirit, basically (see my ""exit letter"). I was led to a friend's home who knows the Spirit. My friend is a prophetic intercessor and a prophet. The word can make many people nervous, but if we keep focused on Jesus we don't need to worry about anything 'cause He's got us (and it doesn't matter whether or not my friend is "recognized" or not).

I learned a lot of this in prayer meetings at my friend's home. We would gather in her living room and pray for one another. We'd worship and we'd wait on the Spirit, but prayer was the main thing. We'd lay hands on whoever needed prayer and often the Lord would give a word or a picture in response to the prayer (sometimes even before the prayer began to be prayed). But when He shows something, interpretation isn't something that we do, you know? If we don't understand what we see (and even if we do think we understand!), we need to immediately go back to the Lord with what He's shown and ask, "Lord, what does this mean?" and sometimes, "Is this really You??" He'll explain what He gives. He's faithful like that! (^_^)

So the first exposure I got with this was in the context of prayer. Many Christians (as you can see on different internet sites) also receive pictures from the Lord and do art with them, but I hadn't quite accepted that was something He'd do with me because of my background with art (I believed that my "best stuff" came when I was depressed).

By the way, not all "prophetic art" is from the Lord. Just as there is a real Spirit, there are also other spirits, and not everything one sees is always from the Lord. Once in awhile I see something that is kind of distracting or off the point (that is, the gospel). Other times there are things which just seem 'iffy' or very borderline.

For that, I remember an experience I had when I first discovered the prophetic movings of the Spirit in the Body. I was soaking up everything! I was looking at every "word" I could find, every utterance from prophets posted on the internet. It was hard to keep up! After time I also noticed that not everything was spot-on (often far from it, I now realize). But I began to get exhausted keeping up, and through that the Lord let me know that I didn't have to know and hear everything. Not everything was for me. That's one reason I didn't always understand what I read (or pictures that I saw)... many of them are in a context that is not known to me. I can't immediately judge everything, you know? (Unless it's obviously contra-Scripture). And even more liberating is knowing that I don't have to judge everything. I can leave it and move on.

The biggest reason behind this is that ultimately God wants to speak to us directly, not through a third person. Third person speaking (i.e., the prophetic) is something that He does, but the purpose of it is different than it was in the Old Testament when He only anointed a few leaders to intercede and speak His word to the people. Now He desires to fill all and intimately know all. When I focus on searching out all the prophetic words that have come through others, I'm kind of forgetting that I can talk to Him and hear Him right now. (^_^) Although it's exciting to know what He's been speaking to others in their situations, it's not necessary. Sometimes He speaks to me through what He's told someone else, and that's awesome. But I don't need to look for it. He might have me search once in awhile, but usually I learn that after the fact. The dialogue between you and Him is the main thing.

As for "doing" this kind of art, there's some advice that Gwen Meharg gave me, and then there are a few things I've jotted down to myself as 'notes' about doing it. It's a little different for everyone, and often I lapse and forget what I wrote in my memos, but that's okay.
1) The focus is worship and intimacy with Him, not "art".

2) Because of that, you don't bring "God" into your art. Instead, you bring your art into your time with God. Take a pad and pencil with you into your time with Him. Of course it's still easy for me to get distracted by what I'm doing/drawing and forget the main thing, the "one thing", which is intimacy with Him--like Mary discovered at His feet! In those times when I forget, I think He "turns off" my ability to do art, haha, so that I'll seek Him. Either that or He lets it become dry and mechanical so that my hunger for Him increases!

3) One thing Gwen sometimes does and I've done a few times is write Scripture on the paper before beginning. It's kind of nice. (^_^)

4) It's not about technique---it's about heart. His heart!

5) A big part of this is "being still" and waiting on God. And asking Him. "Lord, is there anything You'd like to show me? Is there anything I can paint for You?"
There are different types of this kind of art, of course, and I'm sure it's different for everyone. Some people "see" a picture. Others feel it. Others kind of just "know" it. And other times it's just a good idea.

When I was an art major for a short time, I used to always want to find some great idea, something that said something, you know? I used to strive after the kind of surrealism that Dali did (but without the perversion, haha). But I always got stuck in my efforts and in constructing it. Having God start dropping in pictures really took away that burden. (^_^) [10/2007 note: I still have trouble describing how relieving it is to have these things from Him! How much of a relief having His heart showing me pictures! Thank You, God!]

Basically, my advice is just to give it to God... ask Him if this is something He'd like to do through you, and wait on Him in His presence. Keep your materials handy, and sketch if you need to. But don't worry.

Sometimes you just get the itching to draw or paint something, but you don't know what it is or it will turn out to be if anything at all. I think a lot of Gwen's pictures come this way. I'm a little more "head-oriented"... haha, I always want to know what I'm going to draw before I break out the pen, you know! But He's used me both ways. I think I've learned slowly that it's good to not limit Him by saying "He always works this way for me" or "He can't work this way for me." He's GOD, after all. (^_^)

Oh, and of course, He can do this with any and all art forms! Whether art, music, poetry, dance, or anything. He's awesome that way. You can actually find it in the Bible... in Exodus He says that He's filled such and such person with His Spirit to design things for the Tabernacle, etc. For example, one of my friends in California used to receive songs (and probably still does).

Okay, sorry, this email has been all over the place, but I hope it helps! Any other questions? (^_^)

I like this definition of "prophetic art":
It's simply "art from His heart". (^_^)

Blessings in His wonderful love!

Last October I put up the articles about "prophetic art" on this page, and I got a reply from the sister in Christ who emailed me the original letter at the top (which I wrote the lengthy reply to)! I didn't state so originally, but the sister in Jesus is also a former-Adventist, just like myself.

She wrote:

Thank you Ramone, for sharing your recent thoughts on this. It's been interesting for me to re-approach this topic with new eyes (back when I was first asking you questions about this, I was in a much different place with very little understanding of how this all worked). I was open at the time I first heard about this, and quite drawn to it, but I was definitely still quite guarded.

God has been so good, and has opened my eyes and mind to so much this past year as I'm ready and in His time. As part of the process, He has definitely ministered to me through other people by way of the "prophetic". This gift God has given His church body has actually impacted my life in many ways. Through this gift, God has brought healing into my life, and continues to show me what it truly means to be a child of God, and what it fully means to feel loved and taken care of. The "p" word on this side of understanding, is so different from my previous Adventist understanding.

So, thank you for sending me these links. It was good for me to look at this whole idea of "prophetic art", now with new eyes.

By the way, I took a Bible study class this summer on the Holy Spirit. When we got to the topic of "prophecy", the Pastor gave us a list he uses to judge it. 1) Does it glorify Christ? 2) Does it agree with Scripture? 3) Does it lead me toward God and the Word or toward flesh? 4) Does it bring freedom or bondage? 5) Does it agree with the witness in my spirit? Point #5 really impacted me, and took away the fear of "how-do-I-know-this-is-from-God-fear" that I had with prophecy. He said that New Testament prophecy should confirm or encourage or clarify that which we have already perceived in our spirit. In other words, God gives prophecy as a means to confirm for us what He's already been convicting or teaching us through our Spirit. When I think of all the times God has "spoken" to me through the prophetic, it's so true. He doesn't spring something on me that I already haven't been dealing with and praying over. God's Spirit doesn't contradict Himself...go figure!!

Thought you might be interested in the list. I thought it was good for anyone, but especially formers.

Sister in His Grace


I asked her if it was okay to share this reply of hers, and she wrote back:

Hi, Ramone!

Nope, I don't mind at all. In fact it was interesting for me to re-read my email from a year ago. And you are welcome to post the "follow-up".

You know, I haven't revisited art with this new understanding of this dimension of the Holy Spirit. I've thought about it, and prayed about it, and it hasn't quite felt right, yet. If I did it now, I think it would be mostly flesh trying to fabricate out an experience. The time, if even ever, isn't right yet. I sense that God is still growing me in this area, and I know I'm still learning to recognize what's from Him and what's not. I think I'm still in the "training" phase--I still have a lot to learn.

Blessings in Christ,
Sister in Jesus


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