Our office at David McCracken Ministries is situated in a lovely, semi-rural area here in Melbourne, Australia. A few days ago, I went on my regular walk past a vineyard during my lunch break. I was amazed to see fresh green shoots springing from the harshly pruned vines.

What seemed so barren and dead for months is now a picture of resurrection life.


I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:1-2)

In the same way that a plant is pruned in order to blossom and bear more fruit, seasons of testing are crucial to the development of our spiritual gifts.

During these times, the best that we have produced seems to have been stripped away from us. God is allowing fruitful areas of our lives and ministries to be cut back, in order that we can focus in a significant way and be even more fruitful for His Kingdom.

11 Signs that you are in a Testing Season

Some signs that you may be experiencing a testing season in relation to your spiritual gifts include:

  • Feeling that you have been shut down in your God-given abilities
  • You might have voluntarily or involuntarily released ministry responsibility and feel displaced as a result
  • You long for the honeymoon period when you first discovered your spiritual gift
  • You might have made mistakes and wonder whether you will ever recover
  • You experience doubts about your ability and wonder if God really called you
  • You find yourself going through character-testing circumstances and coming up short on the character side
  • You wonder whether the prophecies once made about you will ever be fulfilled
  • You feel as though you are being criticised, blocked or resisted
  • You feel battle-worn and weary
  • You feel displaced, separated or hidden in relation to your gift and ministry
  • The opposite of God’s call and the destiny you believed for seems to be happening to you.

A testing season can be specific to a single gift. I have often heard prophetic people relate, mystified, that their prophetic ministry feels as though it has been blocked and yet they are experiencing fruitfulness in other areas of service.

The Season of Trial: What is God Doing?

1. Developing Skills you will need in the Future

Joseph knew that his destiny was one of rulership, but it seemed that his life was taking the opposite course. However, during the time of slavery and unjust imprisonment he developed skills that would be invaluable to his future. He learned the Egyptian language and customs, along with principles of stewardship, leadership and resource management.

During the season of trial, God may be working gifts and skills into your life that you need to fulfil His destiny in the long run.

2. Refining Your Character

During wilderness times, the people and circumstances that try us are instruments that God uses to develop our character and point us towards our destiny. Joseph understood this. He later said to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen 50:20).

3. Repositioning You

During a testing time, God may actually be repositioning us for a new season of fruitfulness.

Elijah went on the run from Jezebel, overnight going from success to mess. (1 Kings 19) He sat under a tree in the desert and actually prayed that he would die. The Lord visited Him and gave him directions for a new season of his ministry. He was to call Elisha as his successor and anoint a new king who would bring Jezebel’s reign to an end.

Elijah had an appointment with God in the wilderness and so do we. During the times of difficulty or separation, allow Him to speak to you about the next season He has for your life.

4. Calling You to Intimacy with Him

Testing times are seasons when we have the opportunity to get closer to God than any other time. Perhaps there are fewer distractions. Perhaps need or barrenness causes us to draw nearer to Him. It is on God’s heart to reveal His love to you in fresh ways during a desert time.

5. Awaiting the Right Timing

While we feel as though we are fighting to survive, God is moving to change the scenery on the stage of our lives—positioning circumstances, others and us for what is to come. [1]

David went on the run from Saul in the wilderness. He was destined to become a king, but he became an outlaw first. He stayed in the desert while God worked things out on his behalf. Saul died and eventually the people called for David to be their new king.

6. Strengthening Your Faith

Abraham is known as the ‘father of faith.’  It was twenty-five barren years before Isaac was born in fulfilment of God’s promise to make him a great nation; God waited until it was physically impossible. Paul later said of Abraham:

Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God. (Rom 4:19-20)

In the Father’s Hands

It is important to recognize that God is at work during the testing season. He is refining both your character and your gift.

How you respond in this season is very important. No matter what you have done, no matter what people have done to you, and no matter what the enemy has done against you, God is sovereignly working ‘all things together for good.’

If you can relate to this today, I pray that you will perceive the hand of God on your life. During pruning, the vine-grower’s hands are closer to the vine than at any other time.

May you sense the Father’s loving touch on your life and receive a revelation of His goodness that will empower you and cause your heart to flow with gratitude and praise.


This post contains an excerpt from my e-book, ‘Grow Your Prophetic And Prayer Gifts.’

The six phases of spiritual gift development are beginning, desiring, emerging, developing, testing and maturing.

‘Grow Your Prophetic And Prayer Gifts’ is a high-value e-book specifically written to help you grow in your gifts of prophecy, intercession, healing, discernment and more – at whatever stage or season you are on the journey.

Check out my e-books page for more e-books related to prophetic and prayer ministry.


Related Posts:
4 Signs You are in Transition in Your Gift or Ministry


© Helen Calder – Enliven Blog

On team with David McCracken Ministries: Prophetic Ministry That Empowers The Church

44 thoughts on “Going Through A Testing Season In Your Spiritual Gifts”

  1. Many years ago I had a dream; the church I was part of had a house as a office seperate from where we held our meetings. In my dream I went to the office – as my custom was – and there were people everywhere. I only recognised two. One was one of the pastors and the other the administration officer – the rest I didn’t know. There on the floor with people milling around her was a woman – she was dead. I went about my business and left only to return a couple of hours later and the woman was still there. I rang the police and was asked why I hadn’t reported it sooner. My response to that was, ‘There were others so many others…’ To which the reponse was; ‘But you saw her … the others didn’t!. He really reprimanded me…’ end of the dream. I sought the Lord as to what it meant … all I got at that stage was the woman represented the church ….. nothing else. Until the other day …. whilst reading a book; Heavy Rain, by Kris Vallotton, the realisation what the dream meant exploded in me. The meaning; the church is dead to her true identity; who she is; why Jesus died; the full meaning His death is to have; her true mission; what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit speaking in our heavenly language; we are a total new creation; a new species of being. The revelation went on …I would be interested in getting some feed back. Thanks :o)

    1. Hi there Maureen,
      It’s interesting that you had the dream many years ago, and yet it has obviously impacted you strongly and continues to now. This does seem to indicate that there is a prophetic significance about it.
      As far as your thoughts about the church being dead to her true identity, she has certainly been ‘asleep’. How exciting that we are living right now in a season of awakening (or resurrection, to use your analogy) and that Kris Vallotton and many others, including David McCracken here in Australia, are being significant voices in this hour to bring the revelation to the church of who she is and Whose she is.
      I am excited about how this has impacted me personally.
      Do you believe that God is calling you to live this out and influence others in terms of this revelation of ‘identity?’

    2. This reading has encouraged me tremendously. I feel like I am at a standstill, thank you
      for this reading. God bless you.

  2. I’m so glad I found this article , It helped me to see what I been going through. It explained my situation in great details . I know now where I am and how too get where I’m going . Thank’s

  3. Hi Barbara,
    I’m sorry to hear you have been going through a difficult time, I pray that you will be filled with hope and expectation of good things to come.
    As you trust in your Heavenly Father and place your life in His care, the season of transition will lead to great fruitfulness ahead.

  4. wow! Helen, u are indeed a blessing to me, and i believe a lot others too. I have been reading your articles and post a lot, and it seems to me, you have really gone through a lot of experiences in life, trials, tests which come in so many categories. Its amazing how u seem to remember all of them….hehehe . Anyway, i wanna ask, why do people who are connected with the prophetic, go through so many hard times, very difficult ones.
    And secondly, i got a prophecy two years ago that i was called into the prophetic office, but i haven’t seen any obvious manifestation of the “prophetic gifts” in my life. Sometimes i get really worried and doubtful, where i really get compliments is my ability to preach or talk about the word of God which i can’t tell if is a prophetic gift or not. and even with that, i just re-talk on what someone(a preacher, pastor etc) has already written or spoken about, mostly you. don’t know if u get my point, but my question is, am i walking in the will of God or what?

  5. Hi Felix, great to hear from you 🙂
    I was listening to Graham Cooke recently and he said, someone asked him what the difference was between the gift of prophecy and the office of the prophet… he said, ‘about 30 years..’ and there is truth in that, there’s a lot of personal preparation to go through with that call on your life, so don’t worry about timing, just be faithful in developing your gift and life and call before God. He will promote and confirm publicly in His time. Also, the word will need to be weighed up and confirmed over time.
    As far as prophetic preaching… it is the same with prophetic worship, too. It’s not about what you preach, or what song that you choose, whether your own, spontaneous or from someone else. It’s not about the source, it’s whether or not it is a ‘Now’ word from God that touches people’s lives right then and there. For more on prophetic preaching, see https://www.enlivenpublishing.com/blog/2012/06/18/8-traits-and-benefits-of-prophetic-preaching/

  6. wow….thank you very much Helen, i am indeed grateful. I will go through that on the prophetic preaching ASAP. I never even knew they had something called “prophetic preaching. THANK U:)

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