Prophecy is both foretelling and forthtelling. Notice the spelling difference: Foretelling is predictive, God reveals the future to people. Forthtelling is declarative, as in proclaiming forth God’s plans and purposes.
Prophecy is not something we can learn from teachings, formulas, or traditions. Nor is it information gained through reading books and applying ourselves to learning. Prophecy has no human origin. It is supernaturally given to us by the Holy Spirit. Everyone can prophesy. Here again, notice a spelling difference: Prophecy is the noun. Prophesy is the verb (doing). Example: “I receive a prophecy.” “I prophesy” (declare) it.”
Faith is required for prophecy. It takes faith to recognize God is communicating something. Faith helps us grab hold of what God is communicating, as if we are reaching into heaven to take hold of it and make it ours. Faith, mixed with wisdom from the Spirit, is needed for proper discerning and interpreting prophecy. And faith is required to act upon prophecy; this is speaking, declaring, praying, or doing what God has communicated.
Prophetic revelation comes in many forms. Here are some of God’s methods of communication:
- A voice: we might hear an internal voice in our heart/mind or an audible voice.
- Pictures, visions, dreams, and spiritual seeing. “Seeing” can be in the heart/mind. Our eyes may be closed or open. We may see a still picture, a few pictures, or a moving picture like a movie–this is with our mind’s eye. But also, we may see into the supernatural realm with our physical eyes because the Holy Spirit has pulled back the veil and enabled us to see into this realm. This may include seeing a lot of angels, demons, and the general spiritual activity that is going on around us all the time. The spiritual realm is full and very active.
- Knowing. Like a sudden and strong conviction of something, we confidently know something. We may feel this knowing deep in the gut or belly area. Older translations call this an “unction.” This may come with a sudden burst of words as the Spirit gives utterance, words that seem to bubble up from inside us. The Spirit of God dwells on the inside of us, the deepest part of us.
- An ecstatic experience. Trances, open visions, strong emotions, extreme joy, being overwhelmed by the presence and power of God, being “moved” in spirit—as if our insides have been nudged, jolted, shaken, or are vibrating. The Spirit will often do this to get our attention so we will listen to what He is saying. Religiously motivated people trip over this one the most because it comes with demonstrable physical manifestations, yet our Bible is full of these experiences. Those who criticize these will find they have been arguing with God; they have not believed His Word.
For anyone who wants to grow into receiving God’s revelations, understanding them, and knowing what to do with them, begin with the Word of God, that is, the Bible. Once we begin to read and study the Word of God, with the desire to know God, He pours out revelation to us. He makes Himself known. He grows our confidence in Him. He wants this for us more than we do!