Different Methods of Prophesying
God uses a variety of different methods to communicate prophetically
with His people. The scope and function of these methods vary. Some
of these methods are readily available for "whosoever will" (i.e. the
Spirit of Prophecy). But God reserves some of these methods for the
men and women that He has specifically chosen and trained and developed
(i.e. the office of prophet). So it is helpful to examine these different
methods of prophetic communication and to understand how God uses them
and what purpose they serve. These methods include:
- The Spirit of Prophecy
- Gift of Prophecy
- Prophetic Presbytery
- Prophetic Preaching
- The Office of Prophet
THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY
There are times (often during corporate worship) where God's Spirit is
present to communicate His heart to His people. During these times
there is a special anointing for the prophetic that He releases on various
members of the group. This release of the prophetic anointing is not
related to a person's office or gifting, but to the sovereign move of the
Holy Spirit falling on whoever He desires to fall upon. Usually the Holy
Spirit desires to fall on those who are open to Him and willing to be used
by Him, who are willing to step out in faith and move with Him
(1 Cor. 14:31).
God releases a spirit of prophecy over a group, enabling people who do
not have a "gift of prophecy" to prophesy because of the anointing He
releases. This is a corporate type of anointing, and is available to
pretty much anyone in the group with both faith and desire to be used
and who will step out in faith to speak God's word
The following are some of the conditions where God tends to release
a spirit of prophecy over a group:
- God's presence increases in the room in response to deep and
heartfelt worship. The Bible tells us that God inhabits the praises
of His people
so it is not surprising that He might
manifest His presence during worship. And the spirit of prophecy is
the testimony of Jesus
so God often releases the
prophetic over a group when He manifests His presence among them.
- God sometimes releases a mighty prophetic presence of the Lord in a
service, simply because He desires to do so. When this happens
is is very easy for various ones to prophesy. In fact, sometimes it
is hard not to prophesy when God moves like this.
- Sometimes a prophet or a company of prophets carry such a strong
prophetic mantle that it is released over the group they are
ministering to, making it easy for various ones in that group to
- Sometimes people are exhorted by one ministering to let the Lord
rise up within them and testify through them by the spirit of
prophecy. If they rise to this challenge, God will often release
a spirit of prophecy among them.
The Bible gives several examples of the spirit of prophecy. In
1 Sam 10:10
Saul met a company of prophets and the spirit of prophecy came on him
and he began to prophesy. In
the Spirit of the Lord came
on Saul's messengers, and they began to prophesy. In the midst of an
assembly, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel and he began to
Under these circumstances, just about
anyone can prophesy!
Relationship is a key to moving in the spirit of prophecy. Anyone
who desires to prophesy should find a prophet or group of prophets (the
prophetic-school and its leadership core is one resource they may draw
upon) to train them and help them release their faith. Then they can
begin to move in the spirit of prophecy.
THE GIFT OF PROPHECY
The gift of prophecy is precisely that.. one of the gifts of the Holy
Spirit. It is given to those to whom God chooses to give it, not
based on merit or on earning it, but based on the grace of God.
However, scripture gives us some indication that if we earnestly
desire and ask God for this gift, He might very well give it to us
(1 Cor. 14:1).
Because it is a gift:
The gift of prophecy is listed among the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit
Its purpose is edification, exhortation and comfort of God's people
(1 Cor. 14:3),
and can produce deep conviction in the unbeliever
(1 Cor. 14:24).
The gift of prophecy may come forth as words
(spoken or written), song, or even as dance or movement.
Prophecy is the most edifying gift for God's people
(1 Cor. 14:5).
The other eight gifts are more individually focused gifts, which usually
will bless a specific person, or perhaps a few. Prophecy, on the other
hand, can bless hundreds of people at once. As we have seen, prophecy
edifies the Church, is a sign to unbelievers, and brings glory to
our Lord Jesus. No wonder we are told to "eagerly desire" spiritual
gifts, and "be eager to prophesy"
(1 Cor. 14:1,
Paul told the
Thessalonians to "not treat prophecies with contempt."
(1 Thess. 5:20).
To the church at Rome Paul wrote, "We have different gifts, according to
the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in
proportion to his faith." (Rom. 12:6).
Other scripture references include:
1 Cor. 12:10;
14:3, 4, 6, 22 & 31.
God sometimes uses people who are established in leadership in the
Church to minister together prophetically as a team. This type of
ministry typically involves the laying on of hands. The reason it
is called "presbytery" is because it is performed by those who meet
the qualifications of presbyter (elder, or overseer) in the Church.
There are many different reasons why the elders may come together to
- To seek prophetic revelation and confirmation of/for those called
to be leaders in the Church
- To ordain someone into the five-fold ministry
- To confirm and activate someone's gifting and place of ministry in
the Body. (See
Acts 6:3, and 6:6
where first Stephen's gifting is
perceived, and then hands are laid upon him to activate him into
- To confirm and activate progress in Christian ministry. (See the
description of a presbytery in action in
particular instance, the service of the presbytery was both for the
benefit of the saints, Acts 14:22, and ordination to ministry, Acts
The prophetic presbytery doesn't eliminate the need for the individual
office of prophet, even though all ministers and other church leadership
can prophesy over an individual while functioning as part of the
presbytery team. Prophets, however, are the only ones who may minister
in the realm of the office of prophet. Prophets are anointed to do as
individuals what the presbytery does as a team (except for formally
ordaining someone for ministry. Ordination is done, scripturally, by
the presbytery team).
We understand that there is a difference between preaching and prophesying.
Prophecy usually is spontaneous revelation knowledge inspired by the Holy
Spirit. Preaching, on the other hand, is normally the speaking of biblical
truths which have been studied, researched, and arranged for presentation.
Preaching proclaims the Logos (written word), while prophecy gives a Rhema
(fresh breath of revelation) from the Spirit..
But there are times when the Holy Spirit moves in on the prepared teaching
and modifies it and breathes a dimension of life/inspiration into it that
was not there when the speaker prepared the message. The Holy Spirit may
end up changing the prepared teaching drastically, giving illustrations and
examples that grip the people in the room, quickening the heart of God on
this matter. You might say the Spirit supplies a Rhema from the Logos.
Please note that it would be irresponsible and presumptuous for a speaker
to skip study and message preparation, assuming that the Holy Spirit will
fall on them and "preach their sermon" for them. On the other hand, it is
resisting God to stick to one's prepared notes if the Holy Spirit begins
to lead differently.. to preach a prophetic sermon requires both proper
preparation and an openness to allow the Holy Spirit to change the agenda.
Prophetic preaching has the following characteristics:
- It is a biblical truth. Any prophetic message must conform to and
be subordinate to the written Word of God, which is our standard of
- The illustrations and examples and even the phraseology is precisely
what God desires to communicate. Not only is the speaker directed
to share certain truths, God tells them to say it in a certain way.
And God selects illustrations that pierce directly into the hearts of
the people in the room. The hearer will have the impression that God
is speaking directly to him or her.
- The message is targeted specifically to/for the people who are present
at the time. Even though everything said is Biblical and would be good
for anyone who might hear them, these truths are specifically sent by
God for those people who are present at the time. This type of message,
with its prophetic instructions, admonitions, etc. is like a prophecy
for that group of people.
- Prophetic preaching is typically delivered by someone who holds one
of the five-fold offices (prophet, pastor, apostle, teacher, evangelist).
THE OFFICE OF THE PROPHET
"This is why it says: 'When he ascended on high, he led captives in his
train and gave gifts to men.' It was he who gave some to be apostles,
some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and
teachers . . . " (Eph. 4:8,11)
The ministry of the prophet is not a gift of the Holy Spirit, available
to all believers. It is an office that Jesus put in place, an extension
of His government over His Church. The Office of the Prophet is one of
five headship ministries (the five-fold ministry)
1 Cor. 12:28;
Before we can really discuss the office of the prophet, we need to
discuss the concept of "offices" in general.
Biblical Basis For The Concept of "Office"
Offices are not gifts, they are governmental positions. Christ
selects and places certain individuals into governmental leadership in
His body and gifts them accordingly. Jesus Christ was the complete
manifestation, and our example of all five ministry offices:
- Jesus The Apostle
"Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your
thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess."
- Jesus The Prophet
"For Moses said, `The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like
me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells
you." (Acts 3:22)
- Jesus The Evangelist
"Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching
the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness
among the people." (Matt. 4:23)
(By His example) (See also
Matt. 9:35 and
- Jesus The Pastor
"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me" (John
10:14) (See also
1 Peter 2:25,
- Jesus The Teacher
"He came to Jesus at night and said, 'Rabbi, we know you are a teacher
who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you
are doing if God were not with him.' " (John 3:2) (See also
After Christ ascended into Heaven, the five ministries Jesus had embodied
on earth were given back to the Church in the form of people who fill
the offices. According to
all the offices are distributed,
and all five ministries, when moving in full maturity, represent Jesus'
complete ministry to His Church. These ministries, or offices, are not
an extension of Body ministry. They are an extension of the headship of
Jesus Christ to His Body, the Church.
That portion of His mantle that enabled Him to be the great Apostle of
faith was given to those chosen by Jesus to be apostles. Likewise,
Jesus' evangelistic anointing is given to the evangelist, the pastor
receives the heart and staff of the Good Shepherd, and the teacher is
given Jesus' divine ability to teach. Those chosen to be the New
Testament prophets of today receive those qualities of Jesus that gave
Him the ability to know what was in the heart of people, to announce the
future plans and purposes of God, and to know the secret things of God.
The Office of Prophet
the Gift of Prophecy is for three main
functions: edification, exhortation, and comfort. However, the Office
of Prophet is designed, and has authority invested in it, to function
in a higher realm of ministry than the Holy Spirit's gift of prophecy.
The office of the prophet has the same authority to minister to the
Church with his preaching and prophesying, as does the pastor with his
preaching and pastoral counseling. (Realizing, of course, that this
does not mean one who is called as a prophet has the right to go against
the position or judgments of the senior pastor's authority in the local
church. Rather, as a member of the five-fold ministry, a prophet has
equal privilege to operate in his or her calling to the Body of Christ,
as a pastor does in his or her local church). Those called to the
office of prophet function in all the ministries of Old Testament
prophets, as well as being granted (from the New Testament) standing in
the role of Jesus, the Prophet. Therefore, their prophecies touch on
areas of guidance, instruction, rebuke, judgment, and revelation - in
other words, whatever Jesus chooses to speak for the purifying and
perfecting of His Church.
These are some of the areas in which the office of prophet functions:
- Providing direction
(1 Kings 22:7
2 Kings 5:10)
- Giving words of correction
- Pronouncing divine decrees (of God's judgments or blessings) (seen in
major portions of Old Testament writings of prophets)
- Moving in revelation knowledge (prophecy by Isaiah in
150 years later)
- Laying foundations in the Church
- Impartation of spiritual gifts
(1 Tim. 4:14:
Apostle Paul joined with
prophet Silas and possibly prophet Judas to form presbytery)
- Anointing ministries (the three ministries of the Old Testament were
anointed by prophets: the first king, Saul, was anointed by the prophet
the first High Priest, Aaron, was anointed by the prophet Moses
prophets anointed by other prophets:
Elijah anointed Elisha,
1 Kings 19:16)
- Partaking of the secrets of God