Ministering to people with the gift of discerning spirits

Marko Joensuu         No comments
The gift of discerning spirits is vital for effective prophetic ministry, especially in situations where you don’t have time to seek God’s guidance in His presence.

For example, if you are ministering prophetically, there will always be a large number of people who come forward to be prayed for. You will not have met any of these people before. I use the gift to discern their spiritual state. There are times when I receive a prophecy for them, but I can discern that they aren’t ready to receive it, because their commitment to Jesus is not steadfast enough.

There is a call over their life, but they are not ready to receive it yet.

At other times, people come to ask you to confirm a prophecy they say someone else has given to them, but you discern that all they are doing is to camouflage their heart’s desire with religious language. It is amazing how many people seem to think that a prophet’s blessing could somehow make a difference if God has already disagreed with you.

Sometimes, I can discern that people are lying to me; at other times I can discern a sin in their lives. I rarely tell them what I am seeing. Instead, I use what I discern as a material for diagnostic, direct, but non-condemning questions, no matter what the issue. After all, these people are seeking God at some level, even if they aren’t ready to spill the secrets of their heart to me. 1 Peter 4:8 says, "And above all things have fervent love for one another, for 'love will cover a multitude of sins.'”

The gift of discerning spirits is not a gift of exposing people, but a gift for helping them to be set free.

If you sense that there is a demonic influence in someone’s life, you should take the following steps.

1. Proceed cautiously until certain

It is fine and advisable to take your time. Ministering in the gift of discerning spirits can sometimes feel like stepping from a room full of light into a dark room. It takes a bit of time for your eyes to adjust, but soon you will begin to see the contents of the room.

2. Ask questions – don’t prophesy

One of the most destructive things you can do to people is to ‘prophesy’ what you see through the gift of discerning spirits, or proclaim it as a word of knowledge. This will only bring people under condemnation. So, you should almost never proclaim to the person you are ministering to exactly what you see. Instead, you can use what you see as material for questions.

3. Don’t let the darkness dictate your ministry

The devil is a liar, and often the enemy will seek to dictate the way you will minister by releasing deception, fear or uncomfortable emotions. Don’t let him deceive you, so that you will react to whatever he will project unto you, or the person you are praying for.

Instead, observe the person, the disturbance, and the flow of the Holy Spirit within you. You need to be aware of all three. It is not your job to react to whatever the enemy is doing, but to submit to the work of the Holy Spirit in you.

4. Connect with the flow of the Spirit within you

The presence of God is there within you to protect you and to guide you to all truth. Jesus says in John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

You must wait for the Helper within you to come. Wait for God’s presence to begin to flow within you before attempting to minister in any deeper way.

5. Minister in the flow of the Spirit

Every encounter with a demonic presence or influence is a spiritual battle. Hence you should only minister in the flow of the Holy Spirit.

6. Pray afterwards

Every encounter with the enemy takes its toll on you. If you worked in the London sewage system and went home, you would probably want to have a thorough wash before attempting to kiss your wife or husband! In a similar way, ministering with the gift of discerning spirits demands a time of prayer afterwards. Otherwise, these encounters with demonic influences in other people’s lives can have a negative influence in your life.

Unless you are careful, you will end up carrying the depression, anxieties, fears, negative thoughts and so on of the people you have ministered to.

Often, we minister to people who are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. But after ministering to them, we must not stay in the valley, but climb back on the mountain of God’s presence.

This list has been taken from my book Supernatural Love: Releasing the Compassion of Jesus Through the Gifts of the Spirit.

You can connect with Marko on Twitter @markojoensuu and on Facebook at or by visiting 

Published by Marko Joensuu

Marko Joensuu has worked for over sixteen years in the publishing and media ministries of Kensington Temple. He is an author, publisher and screenwriter.
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