[This article was taken from our book “Prophecy: Understanding and Utilizing the Manifestation of Prophecy.”]
There is a distinct difference between the manifestation of prophecy and the gift ministry of a prophet / prophetess. The subject of this book is the manifestation of prophecy, but this appendix covers some basics about the gift ministry of a prophet (sometimes referred to as “a called prophet or prophetess”). Many people are familiar with the ministries of apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. However, if we are to have everything that the Lord wants us to have as his Body, we must understand the ministry of the prophet and have prophets functioning in the Church.
What is a Prophet / Prophetess?
In spite of the fact that prophets were vital to God’s purposes in the Old Testament, the need for them today has been called into question because of the presence of the gift of holy spirit in every believer. On the Day of Pentecost, God began to unveil something He had hidden from mankind (and the Devil)—the Administration of God’s Grace (Eph. 3:2). Today, in the Administration of Grace, the Lord Jesus Christ seals with holy spirit every person who gets born again (Eph. 1:13). That means every Christian has the ability to hear from God and prophesy (Acts 2:17 and 18, cp. 1 Cor. 14:5 and 24).
For many people, the immediate reaction to hearing that every Christian can prophesy is to think that prophets are no longer necessary. However, a more detailed study of Scripture (and indeed, the evidence of correct practice in the Church) reveals that is not the case. For example, Ephesians 4:11 says that the Lord has placed prophets in the Church along with the other ministries of apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Furthermore, there are other verses in the Church Epistles that mention prophets, such as 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Titus 1:12. Acts confirms what the Church Epistles teach, and shows that prophets were active and important in the Church (Acts 11:27, 13:1, 15:32, 21:10). Surely the Lord would not have specifically placed men and women in the Church with the gift ministry of a prophet if they did not perform a distinctly different role than other Christians who were operating the manifestation of prophecy.
In contrast to the manifestation of prophecy every Christian can operate, the gift ministry of a prophet is a specific calling of the Lord on a person’s life. Thus the call to be a prophet is a job assignment, given to someone whether he wants it or not. The Old Testament scriptures make this very clear. Isaiah knew he was called from birth: “…Before I was born the LORD [Yahweh] called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name” (Isa. 49:1b). Amos describes the call of God upon his life: “…I was neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the LORD [Yahweh] took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel’” (Amos 7:14 and 15).
In regard to prophets in the Church, the book of Acts confirms what Ephesians and Corinthians state doctrinally, that the Lord selects and specifically calls some men and women to be prophets. Prophets were important in the establishment of the church at Antioch, the first church recorded that was composed of both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 11:27). It was the prophet Agabus who foretold that there would be a severe famine in the Roman world during the reign of Claudius Caesar (Acts 11:28; this famine is documented in secular Roman history). Prophets were vital in getting the revelation from the Lord to set apart Paul and Barnabas and send them on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-4). The prophets Judas and Silas are specifically mentioned as exhorting and confirming the disciples in Antioch (Acts 15:32-KJV). It was Agabus the prophet who so graphically portrayed what would happen to Paul in Jerusalem (Acts 21:10 and 11). In fact, the only foretelling in Acts is given either by prophets or by the apostles Peter and Paul. 
The book of Acts and the Church Epistles show clearly that the Lord still works through called prophets. They are not “just another believer because every Christian can prophesy,” as some have stated. Evangelists still exist in the Church even though every Christian can share his faith, there are still pastors even though every Christian can help people who are hurting, and there are still prophets in the Church even though every Christian can manifest prophecy. Prophets are charged with being spokesmen for God just as they were in the Old Testament, and today they speak also for the Lord Jesus Christ. Once we understand that the ministry of a prophet is the Lord’s doing, and that they are very important to the health and wellbeing of the Church, we should be very interested in recognizing who they are and what we can do to help them in their job of being spokesmen so we can have the word of the Lord among us in a more powerful way.
Now that we know the difference between the manifestation of prophecy and the ministry of a prophet, we need to understand how that difference plays out in the Church. All prophecy, whether from a Christian operating the manifestation of prophecy, or from a called prophet, will be as the Spirit gives utterance (Acts 2:4-KJV). All true words of prophecy come from God or the Lord Jesus Christ, never from the speaker’s mind. In the case of the manifestation of prophecy, the Lord limits himself to giving words of “…strengthening, encouragement, and comfort” (1 Cor. 14:3).  However, that is not the case with the ministry of a prophet. Called prophets speak the message the Lord gives them, whatever it may be. Both the manifestation of prophecy and the ministry of a prophet are used by the Lord in the Church today (Eph. 4:11).
To understand how prophets operate in the Church, we must understand how they functioned in the Old Testament. The various Greek and Hebrew words that are translated “prophet” or “seer” help a lot in understanding both what a prophet is and how God works with them. By far the most common word translated “prophet” in the Old Testament is nabiy, which means “spokesman.” First and foremost, the prophet is a “spokesman” for God. The prophet must be able to hear the voice of God and bring God’s words to the world.
Soon after Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden, God stopped talking openly to people and chose specific individuals through whom He would communicate to mankind. Thus, by the first time the word “prophet” is used in the Bible, which was in the days of Abraham (Gen. 20:7, about 2,000 years after Adam), what a prophet did was no mystery to people. When God spoke in a dream to Abimelech king of Gerar and identified Abraham as a prophet, Abimelech did not say, “Hey God, what is a ‘prophet’?” He knew exactly what a prophet was—a person who could hear the voice of God and communicate it to others.
The Greek word translated “prophet,” prophetes, also shows that prophets are God’s (or “the god’s”) chosen spokesmen. The noun prophetes is found in Greek writings as early as the 600’s B.C., and it is related to the verb meaning to publicly speak forth or make known. The oldest occurrence we have today relates to a prophetic utterance at the oracle of Zeus at Dodona. Thus, ancient Greek language and culture confirms what the Hebrew language communicates: that even ancient pagan people realized that the words of the gods needed to be spoken forth and made known, and furthermore that the gods chose certain people through whom they spoke.  The New Testament use of prophetes, or prophet, is in line with that and means “One who, moved by the Spirit of God and hence his…spokesman, solemnly declares to men what he has received…” 
Because the prophet speaks the message that God gives him to speak, it can be as varied as God wants it to be. This is an important point, because often people try to “put God in a box” and decide what a prophetic message would look like, as if we could tell God what to say. It is beyond the scope of this appendix to categorize every type of message that prophets bring forth, but a short list will show some of the variation that occurs in the Bible. In some categories there are many examples, but a few will suffice.
- Tell what will happen in the future: 1 Samuel 10:1-6; Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Matthew 24:2; Acts 11:28, 21:11
- Speak of past events: Judges 6:7-10; 2 Samuel 12:7 and 8; Ezekiel 20:1-31; John 4:18.
- Strengthen (“edification” KJV): 2 Samuel 7:8-12; Haggai 2:1-5
- Exhort: 2 Chronicles 15:1-7; Isaiah 35:1-4; Haggai 1:3-12
- Comfort: 1 Samuel 9:20; 2 Chronicles 20:15-17; Jeremiah 45:1-5
- Bless: Genesis 48:20; Deuteronomy 33:1; Joshua 14:13
- Curse: Joshua 8:26, 9:22 and 23; 2 Kings 2:24; Jeremiah 48:10
- Call out kings and ministries: 1 Samuel 10:1, 16:13; 1 Kings 11:29-39, 19:15-19; 2 Kings 9:1-13
- Reprove (sometimes harshly): 2 Samuel 12:1-14; Isaiah 22:15-25; Jeremiah 36:30 and 31; Malachi 2:3; Matthew 16:23, 23:12-36
- Foretell death or disaster: 1 Samuel 2:27-36; 1 Kings 13:20-24, 22:17-37; Jeremiah 28:16, 29:21; Amos 7:14-17
- Direct: Judges 4:4-6; 2 Kings 4:1-7, 5:10, 6:8-10; Jeremiah 32:13-15
- Name (showing God’s opinion): 2 Samuel 12:25; Jeremiah 20:3
- Reveal character and what is in a person’s heart: Isaiah 9:9 and 17, 29:13, 48:4; Jeremiah 2:21, 5:23; Ezekiel 14:2-4; John 1:47
- Interpret enigmas: Daniel 5:5-29
- Reveal what is going on from a spiritual perspective: 1 Chronicles 5:20; Jeremiah 1:16; Ezekiel 5:11; Daniel 9:11; John 8:42-47
- Can have messages for individuals: 1 Samuel 10:1-6, for groups: 2 Kings 3:12-19, or for entire nations: Amos 1:11-2:16
- Have given prophecies to people about a third party: 1 Kings 14:7; 2 Kings 1:3
- May deliver the message themselves, or through others: 2 Kings 5:10, 9:1
- May interpret other people’s dreams: Genesis 40:8-22, 41:15-28; Daniel 2:1-45, 4:4-37 (or their own as in Daniel 7)
- Might not get a revelation about a situation immediately: Jeremiah 28:5-17 (especially verse 11), 42:7
- May be called upon by God to act out their prophetic message: Jeremiah 19:1-13, 27:2, 43:8-13; Ezekiel 4:1-3, 9-17, 5:1-4, 12:1-11; Hosea 1:2; Acts 21:11
- May get revelation they do not understand: Numbers 12:6-8; Daniel 12:8; Zechariah 1:8 and 9
The point of the above list is to show clearly that prophets speak what they hear from God or the Lord Jesus, and that can be as varied as God wants it to be. Of course, because the prophet is a prophet of God, He will not contradict what He has said in His written Word. This brings up the fact that some people assert that God would not give a harsh word of reproof today because we live in the Age of Grace, but that assertion misses the point. The “grace” in the Age of Grace concerns what God has done for people through His Son: things like saved by grace and not by works, having permanent salvation, and being sealed with holy spirit. The “grace” in the Age of Grace certainly does not mean that we have the “grace” to live profligate lives without the Lord being upset and speaking frankly to us about it.
There are verses that apply to the Church that show God will still reprove and correct His people. The principle still stands: “…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded…” (Luke 12:48b). Sin is still sin, and just as God was so upset by the sin and hardheartedness of his “chosen people” in the Old Testament that He occasionally reproved them harshly, He can get just as upset at His chosen children today. Actually, since we have more today, we could reasonably expect Him to get more upset. Because Scripture says, “For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God…” (1 Pet. 4:17a), God has some harsh punishment for those who turn from Him and have “…insulted the Spirit of grace” (Heb. 10:29, cp. 1 Thess. 4:6). Joseph Dillow writes:
“Once a man is born again in Christ, he is now in God’s family, and as any human father would, our divine Father takes a more personal interest in the moral behavior of those who belong to Him than to those outside the household of faith.” 
Another Hebrew word translated “prophet” shows that prophets speak what they hear from God (or today from the Lord Jesus), and they do not speak on their own. The Hebrew word nataph, sometimes translated “prophet,” means “to drop, drip, or distill.” Its uses include rain distilling and dripping from the sky, words that “drop” out of someone’s mouth, and wine dripping from the mountains in Paradise. Although prophets are called upon to “drop” words where and when God demands, the more obvious thing we learn from nataph is that God drops His words upon the prophet. It means, as Strong’s Concordance says, “to speak by inspiration.” This means that the message the prophet brings is not his own message, but the Lord’s words, and furthermore it implies that many times the prophet may not know much of the message when he starts prophesying, but that the words “drop” upon him, i.e., he speaks them as he gets them from God.
Two more Hebrew words that help us understand how God works in prophets are both translated “seer.” One is raah, which means, “to see” (as with the eye), and the other is chozeh, which means “one who has a vision” (from chazon, “vision”). By virtue of the gift of holy spirit upon them and the revelation they received from God, prophets “saw” things that other people could not see. This was very apparent to the people around them, who used the term “seer” for the practical reason that they could see what was unseen by others. As God gave him revelation, a prophet could “see” into the future (Dan. 2:29-45), or into someone’s heart (Ezek. 14:3).
The word “seer” has another overtone as well. Although there are well documented times when God spoke audibly to prophets, it seems the more common means of communication He used was visual revelation, even if the vision were in a dream. Although it would be ideal if every dream and vision were crystal clear and self-explanatory, that is not the case. The method and content of the visions and dreams of God are His business, and He has purposely chosen to be unclear in some of His communication. Although the tendency of most people is to blame the prophet for any unclear dream or revelation (and it is true that sin can cloud clear revelations from the Lord), this blame is often misplaced. God can be perfectly clear when He wants to be, as many Old and New Testament records attest.
Many biblical records show that God is purposely unclear. Numbers 12:6-8 indicates that God spoke to prophets in riddles, while to Moses He spoke “face to face,” i.e., clearly. Proverbs 25:2 says it is the glory of God to conceal things. Furthermore, the Bible has records of prophets receiving visions and revelations they did not understand. For example, Daniel did not understand the meaning of what he heard (Dan. 12:8), Zechariah was shown a vision that he did not understand (Zech. 1:8 and 9), and Peter did not grasp what the Lord was communicating by the sheet full of unclean animals, argued with the Lord about it, and ended up “…wondering about the meaning of the vision…” (Acts 10:17).
There seem to be two primary reasons why God is sometimes purposely unclear. One is to drive people into deeper and more intimate communication with Him. Remember, the reason anyone gets any revelation in the first place is that God loves us, wants to help and bless us, and wants a relationship with us. But He does not want to be thought of as only “the Provider” from whom we can get things and then go our own way. He wants us to have a relationship with Him. How does a mother feel when she works hard to make a nice dinner and then kids come in and scarf it down in two minutes so they can watch a television show and leave without even saying “Thank you”? She wanted more from her children than just to be thought of as “the cook” or “the provider.” So it is with God. There is more to life than just providing for others. God wants our love and to have a relationship with us. When there is unclear revelation, we are driven deeper and deeper into His heart as we seek understanding. We want to know what He meant, and that means we need to go to Him for the understanding.
The second reason that God (or the Lord) is sometimes unclear when He gives a revelation or a vision is that it causes people to work together. God is very desirous that His people work together, so He often gives out the “revelation pie” in pieces, so people have to get together to see the whole pie. We see this in the prophetic books in the Bible. There are many biblical topics that can be understood only by learning about them from several different books. God gave one revelation to the prophet Jeremiah, another to Ezekiel, another to Daniel, etc, and only when they are taken together do we get the whole picture. This is still true today, God giving a message through one prophet that is confirmed and developed by another prophet. Similarly, one prophet often has insights about the prophetic revelation that another prophet received, which sheds light on the original revelation.
Another reason for God to promote community and communication among the prophets is the need for prophets to mature in their calling. Being around other prophets helps a younger or less mature prophet grow and understand the revelation he or she is receiving. As early as the time of Samuel, prophets were companying together (1 Sam. 10:5), and Samuel is sometimes credited with starting what is called, “the school of the prophets.” 
Realizing prophets need to grow and mature in their walk with God helps us understand better how to relate to them, and also why the Lord says prophets are to “weigh carefully” each other’s words (1 Cor. 14:29). It is important to understand that even mature prophets can be wrong, or appear wrong, in what they say. For that reason, accountability to other prophets and to the Body of Christ is very important. The prophetic minister must have the courage to deliver God’s message but also recognize that he or she does not stand alone. The goal of the prophet is not to tear down but to recover and build up. Building up the Body of Christ is a challenging goal that can be accomplished only by cooperation with, and accountability to, other believers in the Body of Christ.
Prophets, while calling others to account, must also be accountable. In that light, every prophet must realize that he or she is engaged in a spiritual battle, and the primary weapon of that warfare is the Word of God. The Lord’s prophets must strive to prophesy and interpret dreams and visions in accordance with the written Word of God, understanding that now we see through a glass darkly. Because people can still be influenced by their flesh and give inaccurate prophecies, all Christians are told to “weigh carefully” the prophetic words of others. 
Because of their prominent position in the Body of Christ, and because it is easy to be influenced by the flesh, it is of utmost importance that prophets maintain holy and obedient lifestyles. God considers it “horrible” when prophets live sinful lives (Jer. 23:14). A prophet is to anchor his life in prayer, and focus on the Hope even when the task at hand seems hopeless. This requires determination and discipline. Another quality the prophet must have is the courage to deliver God’s message no matter what the content. Because the fallen nature of man is constantly bringing him downward, a good portion of a prophet’s work comes in the form of reproof and correction. This can easily be seen by reading the prophetic books and noting what the prophets said. Things are no different now in the Administration of Grace than they were in the Old Testament. The sin nature of man exerts a strong influence, which is why there is so much reproof and correction even in the Church Epistles.
Speaking words of reproof and correction is rarely a blessing. The heavy nature of many prophetic utterances is why revelation from God was often called a “burden.” For example:
- “The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi” (Mal. 1:1-KJV).
- “The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite” (Nah. 1:1-KJV).
- “The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see” (Hab. 1:1-KJV).
- “The burden of the word of the LORD …” (Zech. 9:1-KJV). The NIV and many other more modern versions say “oracle” or some other similar translation, but “burden” is the proper translation. 
The prophet must also develop the wisdom to deliver his message the way the Lord would have it delivered. This means that he must endeavor to have the heart of the Lord for people. Because prophetic utterances can have a huge impact on the one receiving the message, it is very important that the prophet deliver the message with the same heart as the Lord would if he were here personally. That does not mean that the message will always be gentle (“…Get behind me, Satan!…” was hardly gentle), but it does mean that it will be delivered the way the Lord would have it delivered.
It is a very difficult task to distill to doctrine the communication that a prophet receives by revelation and how it should (or perhaps should not) be communicated to others. The mature prophet knows that sometimes the Lord communicates to him in a manner that is meaningful only to him, and a literal recitation of it would only be misunderstood by a listener. In such cases, the prophet gives the Lord’s message, and not the literal vision or revelation he received, so that the listener gets the message that the Lord meant for him.
The Lord often uses harsh words or striking images to create impact, perhaps like a figure of speech makes an impact in literature. Mature prophets do not assume that stark imagery is literally true, but nor do they discount that it may be. The prophet’s task is to discern the truth being conveyed, and then to communicate that truth as accurately and lovingly as possible. This communication may take a number of forms and will not always be accepted or understood. A wise prophet will seek the Lord for wisdom concerning the details, timing and wording for each situation. He or she may also seek counsel of trusted advisors or more seasoned prophets. This however, provides no guarantee that the message or the prophet will not be criticized or disregarded.
Just as prophets get lauded and praised when their prophecies are a blessing, they are derided and persecuted when their prophecies are unexpected or unwanted. Prophets must accept this in order to forestall temptations of disobedience, self pity, envy, bitterness, and hardheartedness, and to be able to see and hear clearly the revelation that the Lord wants communicated.
Each prophet must develop his own relationship with the Lord Jesus so that the Lord can communicate to him in a way that he understands, even if others do not. There will be times when it would be detrimental for the prophet to repeat exactly what the Lord gives to him because the images would be misunderstood. Each prophet must learn from experience how to correctly understand the messages and images he receives from the Lord, and then prophesy to others in a way that is helpful and appropriate.
One of the great services that the prophets of old performed was to help people who needed to know what to do about specific situations. 1 Samuel 9:9 shows that people regularly went to prophets to get information they needed.
1 Samuel 9:9
(Formerly in Israel, if a man went to inquire of God, he would say, “Come, let us go to the seer,” because the prophet of today used to be called a seer.)
Knowing the right thing to do in a specific situation has always been a challenge, and the Adversary has worked hard to deceive God’s people by providing demonic sources of spiritual information. Many people today call a psychic hotline or go to a medium, tarot card reader, or “spiritual advisor” when they need advice, and many others read the daily horoscope to find out what to do or not do on a given day. That prophecy has been weak and even nonexistent in the Church has added to the problem. Although some people who look to demonic sources of information are Christians, they may not know that what they are doing is a sin in the eyes of God, and they usually do not have a clue that they can tap into their gift of holy spirit to get a message of knowledge and a message of wisdom, or go to a prophet in the Church for help and direction.
There has always been spiritual advice available, both good and bad. That is why the Bible mentions and forbids the practice of divination, consulting mediums, astrology, etc. (cp. Deut. 18:9-13). Kings have always surrounded themselves with men who claimed to have supernatural knowledge. Pharaoh of Egypt is one example (Gen. 41:8) and Nebuchadnezzar is another (Dan. 2:1-3). Even though the majority of the sources of spiritual advice most people today know about are demonic, there is also spiritual advice available from the true God.
The Bible has many examples of people going to a prophet to seek the will of God, and He got very upset if they went to other spiritual sources. Divination, mediums, astrology, etc., were all forbidden. God wanted the people to seek Him, and that usually meant through the prophets or priests. In the Old Testament, people knew that if the Lord had any guidance for them, they could get it by going to a prophet. Examples of people seeking prophecy for specific reasons include:
1 Samuel 9:6 Saul went to Samuel to find his lost animals.
1 Samuel 9:9 The people of Israel went to the prophet to inquire of God.
1 Samuel 22:15 David had sought the will of God from Ahimelech the priest.
1 Samuel 23:1-12 David four times sought God’s will through Abiathar the priest.
1 Samuel 28:6 Saul sought information from prophets, but there was no revelation.
1 Kings 14:1-3 Jeroboam sent to Ahijah the prophet to find out about his child.
1 Kings 22:4-28 Jehoshaphat sought a prophet to find out if he should go to war.
2 Kings 3:11 Jehoshaphat sought the will of God from Elisha.
2 Kings 4:1-7 The widow sought the help of God from Elisha.
2 Kings 4:21-37 The Shunammite woman sought the help of Elijah for her dead son.
2 Kings 5:3 The maid wanted Naaman to visit the prophet in Samaria.
2 Kings 8:7 and 8 Hazael sent to Elisha to see if he would recover from his sickness.
2 Kings 19:1-7 Hezekiah sent to Isaiah to find out about the Assyrian attack.
2 Kings 22:11-20 Josiah sent to Huldah the prophetess to find out what to do.
Jeremiah 21:1-14 Zedekiah sent to Jeremiah to know if Jerusalem would be delivered.
Jeremiah 37:17 Zedekiah sent to Jeremiah to see if there was a word from the LORD.
Jeremiah 38:14-26 Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah to ask him questions.
There is a spiritual war going on between God and the Devil, and each person must choose the source from which he will get his information. It is sad that the prophetic word in the Church has been so weak, or even nonexistent, that people are flocking to psychic hotlines, tarot cards, astrology, and mediums to get the information they want. As the ministry of the prophet is restored in the Church, Christians will be able to seek information from the Lord’s prophets rather than demonic sources. Of course, many of the questions that people ask on psychic hotlines are not the kind of questions the Lord will give an answer to, but the prophets could tell that directly to the one asking.
A study of the biblical examples of people seeking prophecy reveals that the prophet does not always have to rely solely on revelation for information. For example, in the record of the widow who asked Elisha for help (2 Kings 4 in the list above), he got the details of the situation from the widow herself before he got the word from the LORD. If you are called as a prophet, you should desire to restore the position of the prophet in the Church and be blessed at the opportunity to seek the Lord for people. Then if you get a word, wonderful. If not, the person is no worse off than when he came to you. Similarly, we in the Church should be encouraging the prophets and looking to them to help us get direction from the Lord in our lives.
Some people say: “Well, the only reason people in the Old Testament had to go to prophets was because they did not have holy spirit and could not go to God for themselves.” That thinking is not correct. While it is true that most people did not have holy spirit upon them, some who did still sought information from prophets. David and other kings had prophets in their courts, and a study of David’s life shows that he regularly asked prophets for information even though he had holy spirit. Sometimes, when a person is in a really difficult situation, it is difficult to calm down enough to hear the voice of the Lord. It is usually much easier for someone who is not as close to the situation to hear from the Lord.
The ministry of the prophet is not in evidence in the Church as it should be, nor, I believe, as the Lord wants it to be. Where are the prophets who warn us of destructive weather or economic disaster? Where are the prophets who call out the ministries in our churches? Where are the prophets who advise our army and our government, and indeed, give personal advice and direction so people will see that there is a God in heaven? In Amos 3:7, God said, “Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.” Yet, today, much happens without any prophetic input at all. Every Christian can hear from the Lord, and should push himself to do so. But we also need to pray and ask the Lord to continue to add prophets to the Church so that we can have more of his words and wisdom as it applies to specific situations.
We also should do more to encourage the prophets to hear the call of the Lord and develop themselves in their ministries. We need to support them as they grow in their walk, encouraging them to be pure and holy so the word they hear will be pure and not compromised by the flesh (this applies to all of us as Christians who want to hear from the Lord). Are we afraid that bold prophets would be dictators? Are we, as the Israelites of old, so entangled in the flesh that we do not want prophets who can see into our hearts and call us to account? Are our lives so full already that we do not want prophets directing us to do more than we are already doing? Are we so unwilling to listen and change that the Lord simply will not speak? We, God’s Church and Christ’s Body, must be willing to seek first the kingdom of God in order to have the ministries Christ has given work effectively in the Church.
“Lord Jesus, if it was God’s heart in the Old Testament not to act without telling His prophets, that must be your heart today. Yet there are so many areas in which we are blind and deaf. Has our sin driven you away from us? Have our efforts to know you been half-hearted and self-serving? Help us to be deserving of your active participation in our lives. Help us to want to hear clearly from you. Lord Jesus, raise up and energize a company of prophets, men and women who will boldly and clearly bring your words to your Church. Amen.”
 There are occasions when apostles, because of the position God has given them in the governance of the Church, are given words of prophecy that ordinarily would come to the Church through prophets. We see this in the book of Acts.
 This is the usual case as is stated in the Word. Of course, the Lord can work through people who are not called prophets if he so desires, but that would be the exception, not the rule.
 Many people who have the gift ministry of a prophet do not serve the true God, but turn to the flesh or the demonic. Even then they are especially spiritually sensitive and are sometimes recognized as such. Thus they occasionally use their gifting for the Devil’s purposes, and become psychics, mediums, oracles, “spiritual advisors,” etc. The spiritual sensitivity of these people is real, whether they work for God or the Devil.
 Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA, reprinted 2000), “prophetes,” p. 553.
 Joseph C. Dillow, The Reign of the Servant Kings (Schoettle Publishing Company, Hayesville, NC, 1993), p. 341.
 For more on the school of the prophets, see “Chapter Six,” Number 17, “Team prophecy can be a blessing.”
 It is important to correctly understand 1 Corinthians 14:29, which reads: “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.” Although “others” refers to prophets, it also includes the rest of the congregation, each of whom has holy spirit and each of whom should be interested in the prophetic word being accurate.
 R. Harris, G. Archer, B. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Moody Press, Chicago, 1980), Vol. 1, pp. 1421 and 1422.