It reveals and testifies to his heart purposes and his love for us. God always wants to envision us and move us on in his purposes. In the beginning God spoke and things were created that did not previously exist. Prophecy likewise can speak things into existence. It is creative and can reveal things that do not yet exist. It brings revelation, life, faith and expectation.It lifts us out of where we are and moves us on. It is a command of scripture to desire earnestly the spiritual gifts, especially prophecy 1Cor 12:31; 14:1 & 39.
The way prophecy should function in the Body of Christ is clearly laid out in 1Cor 13 &14. Not all have the office or ministry of a prophet; but we can all prophesy “one by one”(v31) in the ‘shallow end ‘ and thereby grow in hearing God and encourage others through this precious gift.
SOME COMPARISONS BETWEEN OLD AND NEW COVENANT PROPHECY
Moses said,”I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets” Num.11:29. In the New Covenant this is now true. Instead of the Holy Spirit coming upon a few individuals at certain times, God has now, amazingly and wonderfully put his Holy Spirit within us. The Old Testament prophets spoke the literal words of God: “Thus says the Lord”; “Speak my words to them” Ezek 3:4. By contrast we share what we sense the Holy Spirit is saying or showing us. We see imperfectly and prophesy in part 1Cor 13:9.
It is now a supernatural gift working THROUGH us as we listen to and connect with what the Holy Spirit is saying. Prophecy normally confirms what we have already been hearing from God and takes us further. Old covenant prophecy had to be obeyed – or else. New covenant prophecy has to be tested and weighed. “Don’t despise prophecy, but test everything” 1Thes 5:20&21. Does it align with scripture? Does it witness with you? Is it encouraging? Or does it condemn? New covenant prophecy is not judgemental, heavy or accusing.
Even a corrective word can be given in a way that builds the person up in love. We are to reject it where it fails the tests. It is so important not to prophesy out of wrong motives, such as pride, jealousy, bitterness etc, so we should speak out of a healed heart of self-giving love 1Cor 13:2. This is why the prophetic should function in an environment of safety and accountability, where people are free to reject what they are not comfortable with. Having received a prophecy it is important to weigh it, pray into it and meet the conditions – see the guidelines below.
1 Hearing/Seeing:– Listen with your spirit. It maybe a faint whisper, thought or impression, or a clear scripture, a picture or inner voice, etc. “My sheep hear my voice” Jn. 10:27 2
Interpretation:- What is God saying that will strengthen, encourage or comfort? Ask and wait for more if you don’t understand. There is no hurry. 3
Speaking the prophecy:- Let God’s love rise in your heart for the recipient. Step out in faith, sharing in love, so that you affirm the person with what God has shown you.
GUIDELINES FOR RESPONDING TO PERSONAL PROPHECY
*Write out your prophecy, meditate on it and pray into it.
* Judge and weigh according to scriptural principles.
*Review your prophecy with church leaders.
*Don’t move on a directive word without confirmation and counsel.
*Pay attention to the character requirements of scripture.
* Remember that personal prophecies are always partial, progressive and conditional.