Thursday, October 23, 2008

Personal Prophecy and Encouragment (1)

Personal prophecy should be mostly encouragement. Gene Redlin suggests that prophecy should be 95% encouragement and 5 percent warning. This is probably true of personal prophecy. Most Christians lack confidence in themselves and their abilities, so they need encouragement. The gift of prophecy is for strengthening, encouragement and comfort (1 Cor 14:3), so it is just what most Christians need.

If a Christian is going the wrong way, they are unlikely to be turned round by the gift of prophecy. A warning is more likely to be received, if it comes from a friend or elder who is trusted (Gal 6:1). David accepted correction from Nathan, because Nathan was his friend (2 Sam 12).

Personal prophecy can often be quite vague. However, Christians should not be living their lives in detailed obedience to the prophetic, so it does not matter if the words are fuzzy. We should be walking in obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit and just getting confirmation, illumination or encouragement from the gift of prophecy. Therefore the prophetic words we receive do not need to be absolutely precise. (One reason for the vagueness is that most personal prophecies tend to be given spontaneously without much forethought or editing.)

Most personal prophecy conveys a standard message.

God is pleased with you.
Keep on doing what you are doing.
God has a million ways of saying these words, but each one is perfect for the person who receives it. The important thing is that the word of prophecy is accompanied by the Holy Spirit moving in the heart of the hearer, so that the encouragement digs deep down into their soul and changes their attitude to life.

Some people are full of encouragement. They are great to be around. People with a pastoral calling should be full of encouragement, so they need to be fluent in the gift of prophecy. The irony is that regular anointing in the gift of prophecy may be a sign of a pastoral calling and not a sign of a prophetic calling.

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