Prayer is when we speak to God;
prophecy is when God speaks to us.
All of us are able to prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:31), and the Word tells us to
desire to prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:39). Prophecy
occurs when a person speaks out words that they sense God is saying. Prophetic words can be very powerful,
but they should be weighed and handled with care.
1 Corinthians 14:3 describes the
safe parameters for prophecy. It
is to be used to strengthen, encourage and comfort. It is not
to be used to convict of sin, and if guidance occurs, it should confirm what
the Lord is already saying to a person.
Prophecy does not have to be
spoken. One of the most powerful
prophecies we have ever been given was in a meeting when we had a friend of
ours from England, Norman Barnes, with us. Norman moves very powerfully in the gift of prophecy. He had us sit on a sofa and covered us
completely with a large sheet. As
his prophecy, he removed the sheet from us and told us that God had had us
hidden for a number of years but now was the time when we were going to be
revealed. What was interesting was
the context of the prophecy. Back
in the UK, we had been relatively well known. When we came here to America, no one was interested in what
had happened back in England and we entered a ten year period of total
obscurity (very good for us!) We wondered if we were going to stay “on the
shelf” forever. It was shortly
after this prophetic word that we helped to start House2House magazine which
has again thrust us more into the public eye.
The fact that God has used a person to prophesy does not make them a prophet. The 5-fold ministry of the prophet as mentioned in Ephesians 4 occurs when a person is used to prophesy on a regular basis and over things that effect the course of the church. It is usually a traveling ministry. Along with apostles, prophets are part of the foundation (infrastructure) of the church.