A friend and I were talking recently about sudden “insights” that come out of seemingly nowhere, but which she and I both acknowledged knowing are from the mind of God. It can be somewhat disconcerting to suddenly know something that you have no reason to have known or even considered. It just pops in apparently out of the blue. You may try to shake it, but that only seems to make it more persistent. And pretty soon the circumstances are likely to begin to point to the things that God has spoken into your heart and mind. It brings the reality of God involving us in his purposes very close at hand and makes one tremble sometimes at the thought of such intimacy with God.
I have heard it described as the gift of knowledge or a word of knowledge. Charles Stanley describes it this way, “The word of knowledge – A speaking gift that involves understanding truth with an insight that only comes by revelation from God. Those with the gift of knowledge understand the deep things of God and the mysteries of His Word.”
He distinguishes the word of knowledge from the word of wisdom. The word of wisdom, he says, “is a gift that indicates that it is a speaking gift and describes someone who can understand and speak forth biblical truth in such a way as to skillfully apply it to life situations with all discernment.” A word of wisdom is intended to be shared. A word of knowledge is not necessarily for the benefit of anyone other than the recipient in the immediate sense.
A pastor friend of mine shared his perspective on the gift of knowledge with me years ago: It’s like a Father and Child taking a walk on the farm and the Father begins to share things with the Child about how things work, what to do in particular situations, and the timing of important things as seasons and times are ready…….sharing his heart and knowledge with the Child. The Child is being equipped to share in the work of the Father. The information shared is not necessarily for anyone else’s benefit, although it will generally benefit those who receive the fruit of the harvest later. It is personal information between Father and Child. Such “secrets” between God and a child of his are precious. But it takes a very close, intimate relationship and knowledge of the Word to assure that one understands such communications from God, not becoming vain or prideful in the possession of such treasures, sharing them discreetly as necessary for the benefit of others, but not to gloat or “cause division and strife in the body, to gain power and influence over other people, or to make others dependent on the one who claims to possess those gifts”, as Charles Stanley notes.
This prayer friend shared that at one point in her life, such words of knowledge were so disconcerting that she asked God to take them away. She didn’t want to know things that way. And God honored that request. But recently it had happened again for her. But this time she is more mature, more rooted in the Word and realizes that in this particular case God appears to have prepared her and equipped her to pray fervently for the situation, essentially giving her the insight into the situation and calling her to intercession.
A word of knowledge, in which one suddenly knows something that she has no logical, reasonable, or experiential reason to know, is often of such a confidential nature that one does not speak it out loud, but simply “cherishes it in her heart”, awaiting further clarity or resolutions of the situation through prayer. That is quite different, it seems, from prophecy….which is meant to be spoken aloud…God’s message to his people in a timely manner toward a specific purpose. Even when the message is difficult or unwelcome, the prophet has such firm identity in his calling by God that he cannot be dissuaded from the task assigned.
I, too, have recently been given information in my spirit in two situations that seemed somewhat unusual and beyond my frame of reference and even responsibility. Both, however, caused me to take specific actions and prayer that led to additional information being revealed through natural means and it seemed in these situations, too, that I was being equipped for prayer and spiritual battle.
Are these two gifts…..word of knowledge and intercession….related in other people’s experience? God giving information and simultaneously giving one an assignment in prayer for the situation? Sometimes my Father shares things so that I can share in his work……not so I can tell others what he has said.