Last time, I shared with you the apostle Paul’s admonition not to despise prophecy, but to discern it (1 Thessalonians 5:20, 21). Paul also said to desire to prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:1, 39). Today, we’ll look at some ways we can fulfill our call to prophesy.
1 Corinthians 14:3 mentions three reasons prophecy is important: it builds people up, it encourages or exhorts them (spurs them on), and it brings comfort.
It convicts its hearers of their need to change. 1 Corinthians 14:24 says, “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all” (ESV). This is especially true if the prophecy points to Jesus and His holiness. While this verse addresses prophecy’s effect on those who don’t yet know the Lord, God uses it to convict believers as well. Consider chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation, where Jesus spoke prophetically through John to correct sin areas in local churches.
Some prophecy foretells future events, so that God’s people know how to respond and be ready. Jesus prophesied many futuristic things about His death, resurrection, and the last days before His return to earth. Agabus foretold a coming famine, so the Church could take necessary steps to prepare (Acts 11:28). Amos 3:7 tells us, “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, without [first] revealing His secret to His servants the prophets.”
God also uses the prophetic word to tear down anything opposed to His plans and to plant and build His purposes in individuals’ lives and nations. “See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10).
While some of these aspects of the prophetic happen largely through those who hold the ministry function of a prophet, we can all be used at times in each of them, if we allow the Holy Spirit to flow through us. Remember, prophecy is simply uttering aloud what God has spoken to us or shown us. And keep in mind that prophesying is not confined to congregational settings. It can be part of our daily life, as we go about our Father’s business.
This is one of the easiest ways we can prophesy. It can either be on a personal, one-on-one basis or directed toward a group of believers. It’s not prophecy if you are only attempting to help people feel good by sharing your own ideas, but when the Spirit of the Lord is impressing a thought upon you, it will carry weight and bear fruit in others’ lives.
A word from the Lord doesn’t have to feel like fireworks going off inside. It is more likely to manifest as a gentle, persistent sense of what God has for someone. Even if you aren’t entirely sure, take the step of faith to share what you are receiving. You might be surprised at how it blesses someone, once you have the courage to speak it.
Sometimes we don’t realize in a moment of encouraging others that the phraseology we are using is a prophetic word for them — until they tell us they heard the same thing from God or from another person.
Prophetic encouragement isn’t always warm and fuzzy. Some words are meant to stir people up or spur them on into God’s purposes for them. God isn’t into just making His people feel good; He wants us to go deeper with Him, too. Don’t be afraid to share these exhortational words. Just do it in the spirit of love, not criticalness.
Maybe you’re praying with someone, and words pop out of your mouth you weren’t anticipating saying. You are in the flow of the Holy Spirit, speaking forth His understanding of the situation in the moment. This is actually a form of prophecy, and it can be powerful.
Or, perhaps God puts a burden on your heart for a region, and you begin to pray things by the Spirit that you couldn’t know on your own. Years ago, I found myself suddenly praying our Pledge of Allegiance, but it was for North and South Korea to be united as “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Later, I found out many Korean Christians were also praying for the reuniting of the two nations. Since then, I’ve heard several prophets say that this is what God will do. But my first revelation of God’s heart on the matter came through prayer proceeding from my own mouth — and it surprised me at the time. Praying the thoughts of God, as He gives them to you, is a key way to prophesy.
Maybe as someone shares his or her problems with you, you know exactly what to say to bring help — but you realize the thought did not proceed from your own intellect. That is the word of wisdom, mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8, and it is closely allied with prophecy.
Testifying to God’s goodness
When we proclaim God’s goodness, testifying of what He has done for us, sometimes prophecy gets intermingled with that. How? For one thing, God will use your testimony to personally speak to others, to encourage, build up, exhort, convict, or comfort them.
You may also find that as you testify, your words begin to shift from just telling your story into applying the truths you have learned to the lives of those in similar circumstances. You feel the Lord’s urging to say, “God has miracles for you, too. Trust Him, and watch Him work out your circumstances beyond what you could have imagined.” It’s a subtle form of prophecy. The more you proclaim the goodness of the Lord, the more you open yourself up to prophesying, because “…the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).
The Internet is a wide-open window for anyone who wishes to be used by God in this way. When I write books and articles, I seek the Lord for what He wants me to say. I rarely do it any other way. Do you have a blog? Use it to share what God is speaking to you. You don’t have to be a blogger, though. How about using social media to encourage others with what He is saying to you? How much better is that than the opinionated wrangling so many get caught up in!
Does God bring a particular Bible verse to mind for someone? Communicate that. It may be just what the person needs to hear. You are giving them the word of the Lord for their situation.
Wherever you go, be open to the Lord’s promptings to share insights, personal words, ideas, encouragements, and Bible verses God has spoken to you. As you are faithful to do that, God will increase what you have for others. You will end up prophesying blessing to those around you.
The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
Growing in the Prophetic,
by Lee Ann Rubsam