To prophesy is to speak or write words prompted by God’s Spirit. It’s not the content of the words that makes prophecy but their Source. We need more prophetic speaking and fewer self-proclaimed prophets.
Where do the words you say come from? You can speak or write from 4 sources: 1) Your own words (from your own mind, emotions, desires, or opinions), 2) Other people’s words that you’ve learned to repeat, 3) Words prompted by demons, and 4) Words prompted by God. You need discernment to recognize which are which.
Here’s an example of discerning the source of words: Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He is. Peter answered: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied to Peter: “This was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in Heaven.”
A short time later Jesus began to tell His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, suffer, and be killed and Peter replied: “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” Then Jesus said to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan!”
One moment Peter spoked words prompted by God’s Spirit. The next moment He spoke words prompted by Satan.
We can also speak human words prompted by ourselves or by others. Jesus added: “You do not have in mind the concerns of God but merely human concerns.”
Who can prophesy (speak or write words prompted by God’s Spirit)? Writing to the Christ-followers in Corinth, Paul says: “You can all prophesy.” He says: “If an unbeliever or an inquirer comes while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!'”
I’ve seen that very thing happen several times where a stranger comes into a meeting and is overwhelmed and overcome with emotion by hearing everyday people speaking words prompted by God. Helping to oversee Spirit-led meetings on Sunday mornings for 10 years, every week I was able to see ordinary people speak as the Spirit prompted them. I was deeply moved every week.
Even in the most dangerous situations, Christ-followers can depend on God to speak His words through them. Jesus assures His disciples that God will prompt their words if they don’t rely on their own knowledge and preparation but instead speak as prompted by God’s Spirit. He says: “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
I watched a video of Billy Graham speaking to a technology conference when he was 80 years old. He picked up some notes and said something like: “I’m getting older, so I need to check my notes. When you see me on TV I’m ad libbing. I don’t use notes.” When he was preaching, he was speaking as God prompted him on the spot. Perhaps that’s why his words so powerfully impacted people.
I understand what Billy was saying. As a pastor I always felt like God wanted me to preach as the Spirit prompted me, not from notes. I continually read the Bible so there is always a lot in me ready to come out as God prompts me.
Too much in a church service comes from the study and plans of the mind instead of being prompted on the spot by the Spirit. We need to open up to the prompting of God’s Spirit! “You can all prophesy.” Today’s Christianity needs more people speaking prophetically (by God’s Spirit) and fewer speaking politically.
The heart can hear
More than the ear
And see light
That’s beyond sight.
Your heart’s the site
Of deep insights
That can lift you
To spiritual heights.
To the wind
Of the Spirit.