When people think of prophets and prophecy, they normally think of an elect group of people with supernatural insight and power. These are not your average preachers! They have an extraordinary zeal to reach the lost; they dream dreams or have trances from God; they speak riddles or predict the future. Even those of us who aspire to some level of ministry (pastoring, evangelizing, foreign missions) think that being a prophet is incredibly beyond us. But I’m not so sure. I think every Christian can have a prophetic ministry.
This concept—that God wants all of his people to be prophets—is foreign to us. For one thing, most of the Christians we know are not fraught with foretelling events or performing miracles. But for another thing, we often use the Bible as a copout. I can hear the reply now: “The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:29 that not everybody is a prophet, just like not everybody works miracles. And the Bible says in Ephesians 4:11 that only some ministers are prophets, just like some are evangelists and some are pastors and teachers”. But in both of these verses the Bible is using the word prophet in a particular way; the particular way we already happen to think about prophets. If we define a prophet as someone who predicts the future or has supernatural revelation about intimate details of someone else’s life, then most people are decidedly not prophets!
But the scripture also defines prophet in different, broader sense. When we begin to understand this, it can revolutionize the way we look at reaching our cities with the gospel. Broadly speaking, the scriptures define a prophet as someone who is anointed with God’s Spirit.
Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm (Psalm 105:15)
would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them (Numbers 11:29)
I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy (Joel 2:28, see Acts 2)
Notice that two out of these three verses say that God intends all of his people—nay rather, all of humanity—to have his Spirit in them so that they can be prophets for him. The scriptures also define a prophet as someone who acts as a spokesman on God’s behalf.
And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet (Exodus 7:1)
And [Aaron] shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to the instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God (Exodus 4:16)
So we see that broadly speaking a prophet is someone who has God’s Spirit and who speaks on God’s behalf. And this definition fits every true believer. When we are saved, we receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38) and we begin to be witnesses for the kingdom (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19). In this sense of the word, we are all prophets for God.
In my own life, I feel the need to become more prophetic in my relationship toward God. I would love to have the gift and office of a prophet. I honestly feel like the Lord wants to speak to and through his last-days church again in a predictive, revelatory way. God said that prophesy had the power to convict the unbeliever, “and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth” (1 Corinthians 14:25). Sometimes in a Spirit-filled church service the tension becomes thick enough to cut with a knife: God is yearning to speak directly and prophetically to his people.
But even if I am never used to see visions or receive direct knowledge of other people’s lives, I need to start standing in my position as a prophet. God has put his Spirit upon me: I must start letting him lead me, actively believing that every step is divinely directed. God has ordained me to speak in his behalf: I must start telling everyone I can about the gospel, trusting that God will fill my mouth and help me to save souls. Witnessing and being filled with God’s Spirit go hand in hand anyway (Acts 1:8).
We must change the way we pray. It must become more Spirit-filled. We must change the way we live. It must be more Spirit-led. We must change the way we talk. It must be Spirit-inspired—through the power of God and on his behalf, not in our own strength and for our own motives. God has ordained that we be a prophetic people for him: let’s start walking with that anointing and that purpose.