The ministry of prophecy is to be an important part of the local church and the development of every church leader. This is a biblical concept and was used often in the appointment of leaders to various roles and ministries in the early church (see Acts 13:1-3. 1 Timothy 1:18-19; 4:14).
The Prophetic Ministry
A prophet is someone through whom God speaks His heart, mind and will.
The Old Testament concept of a prophet is “one called (by God) to speak for God”. God spoke to and through prophets. A prophet was not independent. They spoke God's message, not their own. Prophets were referred to as: God's mouthpiece (Jeremiah 1:9), God's messenger, God's representative or God's interpreter. Their primary function was to speak the heart and mind of God to their contemporaries, not just to predict the future. They were to be judged by their fruit, their godliness, their obedience to the commands of God, the accuracy of their prophetic word and whether their word was fulfilled or not.
In the New Testament, the prophetic ministry continues as an important part of God’s plan. All believers can prophesy at times under the anointing of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17; 19:6). Some within the church have the “gift of prophecy” that enables them to move in prophetic ministry on a regular basis (1 Corinthians 12:10). A few are called to be prophets, a ministry given by Jesus to equip the believers for the work of the ministry so the church may grow (Ephesians 4:11-16. 1 Corinthians 12:29).
The Prophetic Process
How does a prophet receive a message from God?
God reveals His mind, heart and will through different methods of communication. These include visions, dreams, an audible voice, riddles ("dark sayings"), angelic messengers, or the word of the Lord (see Numbers 12:1-10). This may be in the form of a prompting or an impression. All revelation comes by the Spirit and involves "hearing" or "seeing" things from God. A prophetic ministry must first "hear" or "see" what God is saying or doing.
How does a prophet share a message from God?
A prophetic message is usually spoken (through prophecy or preaching) but may be written down, demonstrated or illustrated. The message declares God's heart and mind to His people. The people’s response determines the consequences.
The Purpose of the Prophetic Ministry
God has given the prophetic ministry for the benefit of believers and the ongoing ministry of the church. Here are a number of things that the prophetic ministry can do:
1. Strengthening (1 Corinthians 14:3). The prophetic ministry can build up, edify and promote the spiritual growth or progress of people. It strengthens their spiritual life. See also Romans 14:19; 15:2. 1 Corinthians 14:3, 5, 12, 26. 2 Corinthians 10:8; 12:19; 13:10. Ephesians 4:12, 16, 29.
2. Encouragement (1 Corinthians 14:3). The prophetic ministry can bring personal encouragement to people from the Lord. It can stir up and challenge in order to bring about growth and progress.. See also Romans 12:8; 15:4, 5. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. 2 Thessalonians 2:16. 1 Timothy 4:13. Hebrews 6:18; 12:5; 13:22.
3. Comfort (1 Corinthians 14:3, 31). The prophetic ministry can bring comfort and healing to a person. God ministers his love, compassion and grace to those who are in need. See also John 11:19, 31. 1 Thessalonians 2:11; 5:14.
4. Insight (1 Corinthians 14:31). The prophetic ministry can bring knowledge, revelation, instruction and teaching to a person to help them in their spiritual life and ministry. It is a “discipling” ministry used by the Lord to instruct. See also Matthew 11:29. 2 Timothy 3:14.
5. Equipping (Ephesians 4:11-12). The prophetic ministry can equip people for ministry. This concept has the idea of: fitting and preparing fully for effective service; adjusting into proper order and arrangement; to prepare for a purpose. See also Matthew 4:21 (“mending nets”) and Galatians 6:1 (“restore”). Prophetic ministries are also called to teach people to hear God's voice for themselves.
6. Impartation (Romans 1:11). The prophetic ministry can impart spiritual gifts to a person. A “gift” is: a gift of grace; a favour which one receives without any goodness of their own; God’s enablement by the operation of the Holy Spirit; extraordinary power and ability. See also 1 Timothy 4:14. 1 Corinthians 12:4, 9, 28, 31. 2 Timothy 1:6. 1 Peter 4:10.
7. Vision (Acts 2:17). The prophetic ministry can bring a revelation of God and his purposes. It can give direction and purpose through understanding and knowing the plans of God. It comes to stir, challenge, create faith and a sense of urgency about the things of God. It arouses us from complacency and apathy and motivates us to action and fervency. See also Amos 3:7-8. Ephesians 1:17-18. Proverbs 29:18 where "no vision (revelation, prophetic insight, knowledge of God) causes people to perish (dwell carelessly, be apathetic, lack motivation)." Prophecy communicates God’s intentions (Acts 21:10; 11:27. Revelations 22:6. 1 Chronicles 28:12, 19. Acts 11:28; 21:10-11).
What a wonderful gift of the Spirit prophecy can be when it is used for these purposes.
Of course, responding to the prophetic word appropriately is vital …