What is prophecy?

The gift of prophecy allows christians to become a vessel of the voice of God, to encourage others.

what is prophecy

The gift of prophecy is a very powerful gift of the Holy Spirit, that allows christians to become a vessel of the voice of God.

Some christians believe that God no longer directly speaks to us, since we now have the Bible. That is of the most damaging ideas a christian can ever believe, because God is a Father and every Father longs to have relationship with His children. In order to experience a true relationship with God, we must learn to hear His voice. Without communication there is no relationship.

One of the ways we can hear the voice of God is through the gift of prophecy. The apostel Paul speaks a lot about this gift of the Holy Spirit and he calls it the most important of all the gifts of the Spirit.

‘Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy… One who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.’ (1 Corinthians 14:1-2)

Why does Paul encourage christians to earnestly desire spiritual gifts and especially prophecy?

Because the voice of God is the most powerful reality there is. It is with His voice, that God created the entire universe:

‘Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.’ (Genesis 1:3)

The voice of God is able to set us free from fear, anxiety, stress, worry, sin, and it fills us with the love peace, hope, joy and strength of God. When we hear what God wants to say to us, it can destroy damaging lies in our minds, and release us into a deeper surrender and intimacy with Jesus Christ. The voice of God releases life, freedom and healing. A true prophetic word can destroy strongholds from the enemy in our life and give us victory and breakthrough. It enables us to overcome obstacles in our life and grow to more maturity and fruitfulness. When the voice of the Lord is heard, His power is released.

‘The voice of the Lord is powerful, The voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord hews out flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;’ (Psalm 29:4, 7, 8)

Is prophecy for everyone?

The apostle Paul is very clear about his desire that every christian would prophecy.

‘Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy;’

Along with the apostle Paul I believe the Father wants to use all of us to become a vessel of His voice, to encourage other believers. We all have so many struggles, questions, fears and challenges and we can all use a lot of encouragement.

Hearing what God says about our life, our circumstances and our future can bring tremendous encouragement.

The first time a christian prophesied over me, I bursted into tears, because I literally heard my beloved Lord Jesus speak to me, through this unknown christian. Jesus spoke about all the warfare, attacks and pain I had been experiencing the past years and He healed my heart in an amazing way. For two hours I couldn’t stop praising Him and my heart was overflowing with tremendous joy and a renewed love for Jesus Christ.

When the Holy Spirit began speaking through me, through the gift of prophecy, I saw it have the same effect on people. I remember prophesying over a well known christian businessman, and although he was a full grown man, he was crying like a baby in my arms, while the Lord was speaking to him, through me.

The Father answered his deepest heart cries and confirmed his dreams. The Lord also gave him some warnings and instructions for fruitfulness.

I have often prophesied over people, who looked at me in amazement and said: ‘You know me better than my own mother knows me!’ Well, I don’t know them… God knows them! This is a wonderful result of true prophecy: people discover that God is truly involved in their life and He has His eye on them. He understands their struggles and He wants to help them.

Prophecy must be pure

The gift of prophecy is extremely powerful when it operates in a pure way. The key to operating in the gift of prophecy is genuine compassion for people and a true heart before Jesus Christ. When we want to prophesy over people, in order to get control over them, or to make them do what we want, then we operate in witchcraft, which opens the door for demons of control, manipulation and divination.

Unfortunately I have seen some christians operate this way, because their heart was not pure.

They use the gift of prophecy to gain control over others, to receive respect and attention or to get a platform in a church, etc. When a hidden selfish ambition or need motivates us, we have an open door for there enemy to bring deception. As with every gift of the Holy Spirit it is highly important that we truly operate in deep compassion for people and have no selfish agendas. When we flow in the love of God and let His love move through us, it changes lives.

How do we prophesy?

An older prophet, from whom I learned a lot, said one day in a prophetic meeting: it is easy to prophesy, because God loves people. He said that sometimes all we have to say to someone, is: God loves you! God’s love is the foundation of all prophecy. So first of all we must allow His love to fill our hearts. When we direct God’s love towards a person, His love will start flowing and words of God’s love can follow.

The key for prophecy, is to stop thinking in your own mind and surrender to the spontaneous flow of the Holy Spirit in your heart.

Don’t THINK. Our mind is not the channel through which God flows. Jesus Christ said rivers of living water would flow from our BELLY. It is from our INNERMOST BEING, where the springs of life are.

‘He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38)

That’s why Proverbs says:

‘Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.’ (Proverbs 4:23)

pure prophecy

If we want to be pure vessels of the voice of God, then we must make it a priority to maintain a pure heart before God and our fellow humans.

Too often have I seen christians who operate in a subtle form of selfishness, pride or ambition or who have hidden sin in their life. This contaminates their prophesying, which is sad at least and destructive at worst. If we however watch over our heart and stay pure in all seasons of our life, then the Lord can use us to bring tremendous healing and deliverance to His beloved people. That’s why Paul says:

‘Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.’

I make it therefor a priority in my ope, to pray what king David prayed:

‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.’ (Psalm 139:34, 35)

Prophecy and the fear of the Lord

Besides operating in the love of God for people, we also must have a genuine fear of the Lord. Too often have I seen how christians who operate in the gift of prophecy take the holiness and the purity of the Lord too lightly.

There is a tremendous lack of the fear of the Lord in the church, which also weakens the flow of prophecy.

Many christians only want to hear about the grace of God and refuse to hear about repentance and living in true holiness. Having a genuine fear of the Lord will keep us from abusing the gift of prophecy for our own purposes. The hyper grace message that says God is never angry anymore and sin is no longer a big deal for God, is an open door for impure prophecy. When the fear of the Lord is cast away, people no longer realize they can’t play games with God and His power.

Is everyone who prophesies a prophet?

Every christian is called to operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but not every christian is an apostle or prophet. There is a difference between the gifts of the Spirit and the ministries of Jesus Christ. Ephesians speaks about the five ministries that are gifts of Jesus Christ, to make His body mature and fruitful:

He gave gifts to men.”And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.’ (Ephesians 4:11-13)

The ministry of a prophet is a whole different dimension than the gift of prophecy. Apostles and prophets are the two ministries that have great authority in the kingdom of God. They lay the foundation of our faith, and they reveal the fullness of Jesus Christ, so christians can know Him as He truly is.

Not every christians is called to be a prophet, yet all are encouraged to earnestly desire the gift of prophecy.

The gift is meant to encourage one another. The ministry – or also called the mantle – of a prophet is to operate in the government of Christ in His kingdom. This requires tremendous training of character, and the Lord intensely prepares those who are called to this task.

How to test prophecy

The Bible encourages us not to trust every spirit, but to test them and discern if a spirit is from the Lord or not.

‘Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.’ (1 John 4:1)

‘Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.’ (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21)

This can be tricky at times, because wicked spirits also come as ‘an angel of light.’ Deceiving spirits never come in plain sight, they always masquerade themselves, so christians would trust them.

Therefor we need the supernatural gift of discernment to test spirits.

Some christians make the huge mistake to think that their own mind is the tool to discern spirits, which is quite silly. We are not dealing with earthly realities, but with the invisible spiritual realm. With our own mind we can never test the spiritual realm. We need to have true discernment which is just as much a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit as prophecy. We need to hear from the Holy Spirit Himself, whether a spirit is of the Lord or not. Therefor we must have an intimate relationship with Him, to learn to recognize His voice.

The better we now the true voice of Jesus Christ, the more we will be able to discern a strange voice.

praying prophecy

The Bible however does give us a few tools to test prophetic words right away:

‘Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.’ (1 Corinthians 12:1-3)

‘By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;  and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.’ (1 John 4:2)

The first test of a prophetic word, is if Jesus Christ is recognized as the Word of God who has become flesh. And if Jesus is glorified as Lord.

This however doesn’t work in all situations, because not every prophetic word speaks about who Jesus Christ is. Therefor we must ask the Holy Spirit to speak to us personally, to confirm if a prophetic word is of Him or not. We are dependent on Him to teach us and show us the way.

A golden rule is also: does the Lord give peace in your hear or not? When we are in the will of God, He will give us inner peace. When we sense a strong warning in our innermost being, then we know the Lord wants to protect us from something. Therefor it is always important to listen to the whispering of the Lord in our hearts.

It is however important to distinguish between our emotions and the warnings of the Lord. I have seen people receive a true prophetic word, that unmasked wrong motives in their own hearts, and the Lord wanted to set then free from it. It upset them, because something wrong was revealed in their life. So we must ask the Lord: is the distress that I feel your warning or is it my own soul who struggles to submit to you?

Another key to test prophecy, is: does it bring us closer to the Lord Jesus Christ, or not?

Does it bring us in deeper relationship with Him? Does it help us trust Him more? Does it establish His love in our hearts? Or does it causes strive? Does it seperate our heart from the Lord? A genuine prophetic word will always bring us deeper in His arms, to trust Him and have peace in Him.

Prophesy and encourage others

Much more can be said about prophecy, but the most important thing I want to say now, is this: the Lord wants to use you in this gift, to encourage and strengthen others. He longs to reveal His heart to His people.

That’s why He gave us the Holy Spirit, who can work through us to reveal God’s love for each other and help us overcome the battles we all face.

So ask the Lord to fill you with His Spirit and learn to spend quality time with Him. Enter into a deep place of worship, surrender yourself, and allow the Holy Spirit to move freely through you. A major key to operate in prophecy is learning to surrender yourself in worship to the Lord, with all your heart. Don’t just sing old songs, but open your heart to sing spontaneous songs in the Spirit.

prophecy worship


Sing what bubbles up from your innermost being, to Him. Sing your own songs. Be spontaneous and free. That way the river of life is released, and this is also how the gift of prophecy starts working.

So next time you pray for somebody: relax, focus on Jesus Christ and spontaneously start speaking the words that bubble up in your heart. It is like a well, and the words of the Lord spontaneously bubble up from this well of the Holy Spirit.

Just let this river flow and begin to pour out God’s love over people. It will deeply touch them.

About the Author David Sorensen

David Sorensen had a dramatic encounter with God, which completely transformed his life. He decided to spend the rest of his life showing others show real God is and how much he loves us. David's desire is that people would learn how to experience God as the most beautiful reality there is.

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