A Journal for Bible Teachers

The Gift of Prophecy

The Gift of Prophecy

Prophecy is one of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. In its simplest form, prophecy is divinely inspired and anointed utterance. It imparts power to speak supernaturally, bringing forth the message from God to the believers. Prophecy is especially needed for the strengthening and edification of the local church. It can lift a meeting in a tremendous way, so that everyone is very aware that the Lord is in the midst. An anointed prophecy can bring much blessing and encouragement to the congregation, and it is therefore the desire of the Lord that there be a continual flow of prophecy in our services.

The main Hebrew word for prophecy means to flow forth, to tumble forth, or to spring forth like a fountain. The Greek word conveys the idea of speaking on behalf of another or speaking for God. The great importance of this gift can be seen in 1 Corinthians 14:1 where Paul states: “Desire spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophesy.” After receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, we should earnestly pray that the Lord would use us in the gifts of the Spirit. In particular we should desire intensely to prophesy, and pray much for this precious gift. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:31: “For ye may all prophesy one by one, that you may learn, and be comforted.”


What Prophecy is Not

Prophecy is not inspired preaching as some modern translations say. Preaching can be inspired and anointed, but that is not prophesying. Prophecy is not to be used to condemn people and to rebuke them. If open rebuke is needed, that is the responsibility of the leadership or one who has been given the ministry gift of a prophet. The gift of prophecy is very elementary compared to the mantle of a prophet.

Those who have the gift of prophecy generally do not foretell and predict the future. Predicting future events belong to those who have the office of a prophet, and not to those who merely have the gift of prophecy. For example, when Isaiah prophesied concerning the fall of Samaria, when Jeremiah prophesied of 70 years of captivity in Babylon, or when Agabus declared in Acts 11:28 that a worldwide famine was coming, they were all functioning under the mantle of a prophet.


The Purpose of Prophecy

We are clearly told in 1 Corinthians14:3 the three main purposes of the gift of prophecy: “He that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.” Firstly prophecy is for edification, and the Greek word means to erect, to strengthen, and to build up. So many Christians today are in great need of having their spiritual lives built up and strengthened.

Prophecy is also for exhortation, which is to encourage and stir up God’s people. It was the prophesying of Haggai and Zechariah that stirred up and encouraged those who had returned to Jerusalem to work and complete the restoration temple. Many times prophetic words have stirred up believers to press on for God and encouraged them to consecration, to holiness, and separation from the world. The third purpose of prophecy mentioned in this verse is for comfort. The Greek word for comfort is consolation, and the thought here is to solace and to bind up the wounds. Many people need divine comfort from the Holy Spirit to bring heaven’s healing into their hearts.


Keys to Recognise & Increase the Flow of Prophecy in Your Life

First it is essential to be baptised in the Holy Spirit, which is the gateway into the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is important that we spend much time praying in other tongues so that our spirits are edified and built up (I Corinthians14:4). Paul who was mightily used in prophecy and in all the gifts of the Holy Spirit said in 1 Corinthians 14:18: “I thank my God I speak in tongues more than you all.” When we saturate our minds and spirits in the Word of God, and the anointing to prophesy is upon us, the Holy Spirit can draw from the storehouse of His Word and bring forth a message to the congregation. For those who are involved in leading a meeting, it is important to create an atmosphere of the presence of God through anointed praise and worship, which prepares the way for prophecy to come forth. When Elisha needed the word of the Lord in 2 Kings 3:15, he first called for a minstrel to play.

Many times the way people receive a prophecy is a word or phrase that the Holy Spirit brings to mind. At times our word will be spontaneous and totally unpremeditated. At other times we may receive an impression from the Lord, a scripture, a mental image, or perhaps a vision. God will never force us to prophesy, but we must step out in faith, as we read in Romans 12:6: “…Let us prophesy according to the measure of faith.”

This wonderful gift of prophecy can be a tremendous blessing to the church and is a gift that God desires every Spirit-filled believer to have and to use for His glory.

About the Author

Rev. David R. Wallis has served as a missionary in the Philippines and India for over 19 years. He has ministered in over 35 nations at pastors’ seminars, conventions, Bible colleges, and churches. He is the Assistant Chancellor of Zion Ministerial Institute.