A Beginner’s Guide to prophesy

By Jacob Dominy

What do you see ?

You may see a canal, you might see a lovely day by a canal, you feel beautiful countryside. You might see a dirty canal surrounded by lovely landscape. Whilst all these are true, the answer I would give is that we see  a poor but amazing reflection of the of the sky and landscape in the canal. As Jesus said the disciples: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” What we “see” in prophesy is a reflection of what the Father is doing, and even then it’s a poor one, because as Paul says in 1Cor 13:12 “We see through a glass, darkly,” or as another translation puts it “What we see is just a poor reflection in a mirror.”

This is a very important principle that one must understand when stepping out into prophecy, whether you have been called to be a prophet, have a gift of prophecy or are just finding out more about this gift. 

Jesus asked his disciples a similar question in Mark 8 27 –29

“Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

Simon Peter had the revelation and the prophetic insight to see that Jesus is the Messiah.  This passage points out that we are to look beyond the natural and more towards what the natural is pointing us to, so that we can understand what the Lord is wanting to show us in the spiritual realm.  This brings us back to my original question: What do you see?  The reason I gave the answer I did can be found in 1 Corinthians 13 v 8 –10, where the apostle Paul aptly writes:

“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.”

We prophesy in part: what we see is like a poor reflection in a mirror.

This must remain a core value to hold to when we prophesy. In fact the whole of 1 Corinthians 13 is key. Prophesy should never be “look at me!” The whole of this passage is about what love is, and prophecy is a love-gift from the Holy Spirit to the church to build, encourage, warn and guide. If we were then to try and do this from the wrong motives we would not be acting out of love but out of pride or ambition, trying to gain position or get noticed. This return will actually damage and destroy the church.  WE MUST ALWAYS PROPHESY OUT OF LOVE FOR THE BODY OF CHRIST.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Cor 13:2)

We can all prophesy, but not all called to be prophets.

There are many gifts to the church, and most of these we can all seek after. In 1 Corinthians 14:1 Paul specifically encourages us to “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” However not all of us are called to be prophets, just as we are all called to evangelize but not all of us are called to be evangelists.

There are many forms of prophecy. Jesus says “my sheep hear my voice,” and in essence prophecy is simply hearing messages from God for other people. Some can hear from the Holy Spirit better in the quiet place; others hear from the Lord through creativity, others when out in the countryside. Likewise prophecy can be  encouragement in the form of a picture from the Lord, discernment on how to handle situations  with wisdom, or it can take many other forms. Prophesy should never contradict the Bible, and should always be in keeping with the guidelines given in 1 Cor 14: 3, “He who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.”

But does this mean that we should only continue listening to the Holy Spirit in the way that we are used to and are good at? I honestly do not believe this. God is a God of endless variety, so I think that we should learn to hear from the Lord in many, many other ways. This not only keeps us more open to what the Spirit is saying, but also will bring us a more immersive experience, a deeper understanding of the Lord, and greater joy in our hearts.

In John 10:10 Jesus says “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” Part of having life and having it to the full is to be able to communicate (listen and talk: it is a two-way thing) and enjoy walking with the Lord in all that we do.

 A Spirit of Praise

Another principle that I have come to realize on reflection is that the Holy Spirit tends to use us more when we have a spirit of praise. This can be as simple as thanking God for who He is. Just a starter is to say something like “Thank you Jesus for Loving me” a couple of times  a day, and see where that leads. If you don’t feel that way inclined, Isaiah 61:3 says that God will give “a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness,” so you can ask Him for it.

This brings us back the start: what can you see? We should aim to only do what we see the Lord doing. After all, if Jesus Himself had to see what Our Father was doing, how much more should we be earnestly seeking to see what the Father God is doing.

Saying that, if you thought you have heard from the Lord the most important thing is to act on it and step out. Give your word from the Lord and do not to be afraid, or think “What if I get it wrong?” We all have to start somewhere. When you do step out make sure that you do it under the covering of the leadership. In the current circumstances share via email, text or on the phone; or once your church meets again as a body bring it to the person overseeing the meeting.

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