Today, there is no doubt that God is restoring the prophetic ministry to the church as never seen before. Prophets are springing up from everywhere and people are more than ever aware of the prophetic ministry as never before. Of course this situation, which is quite new to the church in these endtimes, leads to many questions. Both simple church members as well as those called to the prophetic ministry have questions. Some of those questions are:
What is the prophetic ministry?
What is the purpose and function of the prophetic ministry in the church today? How do we define the word prophet? Do we know what the word prophetic actually means? Is someone who prophesies every Sunday in church a prophet? How do I know that I am called to the prophetic ministry? What are the signs that I should look for? If I am called to the prophetic ministry how will it be manifested in me? How will God train me? What sort of preparation will I have to go through? How long does it take to be trained as a prophet?
As you can see there are many questions and I am sure you have got your own, you can add your own list. I don’t intend to answer all these questions here; I just want to give you an overview of what the prophetic ministry is all about and what it involves. If the Lord has called you and you would like to be trained, then apply to be a student and you will have the answers to all these questions during your training.
Defining Prophecy and Prophet
The first thing that I what to look at is the word prophetic. Obviously prophetic is an adjective related to two words prophecy and prophet. Here is how strong’s concordance defines the two terms according to the Greek
Prophecy: a discourse (speech) emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing the wicked, or comforting the afflicted, or revealing things hidden; esp. by foretelling future events
Prophet: one who, moved by the Spirit of God and hence his organ or spokesman, solemnly declares to men what he has received by inspiration, especially concerning future events, and in particular such as relate to the cause and kingdom of God
The key thing to remember here is that prophecy involves an utterance or communication through words. In a nutshell, prophecy is speaking ahead of time, what God is planning to do. It can also involve preparing the ground for what God is planning to do.
Because prophecy is an utterance it actually covers a lot of what goes as normal preaching. Whenever a person speaks forth under inspiration what God is saying to others at the present time, they are exercising a prophetic ministry. So prophecy can also fall under inspired preaching. But it is of course a lot more than that.
From the above definitions you may be tempted to believe that a prophet is someone who just has a gift of prophecy or who prophesies. But the prophetic ministry is actually more than that as said. keep reading and you will understand why.
But I think this is where many people get confused. The confusion comes from the failure to distinguish between three biblical concepts: gifts of the spirit, body ministries and leadership ministries also referred to as the fivefold ministry.
Body ministries can be found in Roman 12: 4-8 and include: Prophecy, Servanthood, Teaching, Exhortation and encouragement, Giving to others and meeting their needs, Ruling or taking charge or leading others, Compassion and mercy and taking care of people. These are called body ministries because they are ministries that every single member of the body of Christ is called to function and operate in. Every believer has got a ministry because the word ministry simply means service; so to minister means to serve. And you will agree that every believer is called to serve the Lord. There is no particular training needed, believers receive them from the Lord and function naturally in them.
Then you have the higher-level ministries, which are the leadership ministries that you can find Ephesians 4:11 and are: Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, Evangelists, and Pastors. These are the governing body of the church. And the ministry of the prophet or specifically the prophetic office falls in this category.
Now you know that for every job that you carry out, you need specific tools and skills. The gifts of the spirit are tools and abilities that the Lord gives to his servants to carry out successfully their functions in the church. Since we have both body ministries and leadership ministries, the spiritual gifts are available to both levels of ministries to carry out their functions and serve the Lord efficiently.
So you can understand that the ordinary member of the body of Christ who has got the body ministry of prophecy will need the need the gift of prophecy to carry out that ministry; likewise the prophet will need the same gift of prophecy. Both ministries relate to the the prophetic. But the latter involves more than just prophesying. This means that a person with the body ministry of prophecy or the gift of prophecy carries out a prophetic ministry but they are not a prophet. The prophet on the other hand can not only prophesy but also carry out many other functions. For example the ministry of exhortation is also a prophetic function. Although it is not prophetic in itself, the prophetic ministry is usually designed to motivate and encourage believers to go on with God and to find their place in the Body.
Purpose of the Prophetic Ministry
What are the other functions that set the prophet apart? What is the purpose of the prophetic ministry?
- Firstly, the goal of the prophetic ministry is bring the body of Christ to place of maturity. And the only way to know that the body of Christ is a place of maturity is when believers are walking in faith, love and hope.
- Secondly, the goal of the prophet is to bring believers to a full knowledge of the Lord.
- Thirdly, the goal of the prophet is to help prepare believers for the ministry God has called them to do.
As said, for the prophet to fulfil the purpose of the prophetic ministry, they need some specific spiritual gifts. They are referred to as prophetic gifts. There are three groups of spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12: the vocal gifts (prophecy, diverse tongues, interpretation of tongues), the revelation gifts (word of knowledge, word of wisdom, discerning of spirits) and the power gifts (faith, miracles, healings).
Main Gifts of the Prophetic Ministry
The main gifts involved with the prophetic ministry are the vocal and the revelation gifts. Regarding the power gifts the major one that the prophet uses is the gift of faith. So the prophetic gifts are given to the prophet in order to fulfil these three goals. Now the question is how? As I said, I won’t go in too much detail, so I will use one gift from each group to show you how the prophetic ministry can carry out its functions using those gifts.
Let’s start with the vocal gift of prophecy, which is the most obvious one. The main purpose of prophecy is to encourage and edify the body of Christ. How can prophecy bring encouragement and edification? Through a prophetic word. A word that tell believers how much God loves them and how valuable they are to Him will certainly bring them closer to the Lord. But sometimes prophecy can be a word of wisdom that needs to come to pass. So the prophet needs to do more than prophesying, he needs to send forth a prophetic decree, so that whatever the Lord is planning for the individual or the body of Christ to come to pass. The prophet can do this while ministering directly to a person or in prayer. By sending forth a prophetic decree, the prophet becomes part of the solution of whatever the person is expecting.
How should the Prophet use the Gifts of Revelation?
One of the main functions of the prophet is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. To fulfil this function the prophet needs to help them to identify their gifts and ministries and the main tool is the gift of the word of wisdom. With the word of wisdom the prophet can, not only reveal what ministry they are called to but they can go further by giving them direction regarding how to grow in that ministry. Often some believers have some revelations or some impressions regarding their calling that they don’t understand it. The prophet can in this case use the word of wisdom to bring confirmation. When the prophet does this, they really build hope in the lives of believers; they give them something to hang onto and something to live for.
How should the Prophet use the Power Gifts?
As I said earlier the main power gift in which the prophet operates is the gift of faith. Without this gift the prophet cannot function properly. I have already said that the prophet is not called to just predict or give revelation. He/she is called to be part of the solution to whatever problem God reveals through them. And the way the prophet does this is through prophetic decrees. Only when the prophet decrees can what they have been predicting or revealing come to pass. But the decree itself is not enough, what makes the decree effective is the gift of faith.
It is the spiritual force which when released into the earth accomplishes the will of God. So as the prophet decrees, the gift of faith is released to accomplish the will of God. The prophet fulfils this function mainly through intercession. This is the main characteristic of a prophet. It is not predicting or foretelling, although prophets do these things. Foretelling or predicting is what psychics are busy doing, but they are not giving any solutions. They are just predicting what Satan will do.