“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” – John 10:27 (ESV)
“Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” – I Corinthians 14:1 (ESV)
“But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. – I Corinthians 14:24 – 25 (ESV)
I believe every Christian has heard the voice of God, even if they didn’t recognize it, at the time. Those fleeting thoughts, mental pictures, the still small voice, the feeling of being prompted to speak a word of encouragement, to call someone that’s been on your mind, dreams that strongly impact you, or the times while meditating upon the Scriptures, they just come alive to us. The Holy Spirit also gives supernatural direction on how to pray for others, during intercessory prayer.
I really believe the lack of balanced teaching on the gift of prophecy, and on the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit, has hurt the effectiveness of the Church, in advancing the Kingdom. I have seen the abuse of prophetic ministry, but I have never stopped believing that God still speaks today. Why? Because the Bible teaches it, and I, and others that I trust, have experienced some of the unique ways that he communicates to believers. The Scripture discourages the practice of speaking in tongues in the congregation, if there is no one to interpret the message. And that’s because of the presence of unbelievers, but prophesy is always encouraged.
Dr. Wayne Grudem says: “Mature thinking about prophecy would see it as something to be encouraged in the congregation, even when unbelievers are present. If prophesy is encouraged and allowed to function, it will convict both unbelievers and believers of sin, and will bring to the congregation a much more vivid sense that God is truly among them. It will be a “sign” of God’s approval, of his presence, of his blessing on his people. We ought to see it as this and give thanks for it.”1
I might add that the gift of prophecy is normally easier to facilitate in a small group setting.
(1) Wayne Grudem, The Gift Of Prophecy, page 154.