What Is A Prophet?

Some Thoughts

Twenty years ago a teacher of mine gave me the following to help me understand the nature of prophecy, and what it might mean to be given this gift by the Holy Spirit. Invaluable at the time, and of inestimable worth to me ever since, I gratefully now pass her teaching along to you.

The gift of prophecy is defined as “The motivation to reveal unrighteousness and establish righteousness in motives, words, or actions by speaking God’s truth.”

In Greek propheteia signifies the speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God. (Romans 12:6)

Characteristics of the gift:

1. The gift contains in some measure the discerning of spirits.

2. The person with this gift has the capacity to feel what God feels and to see what God sees in a given situation. Thus, it is an intuitive gift.

3. The prophet is able to discern the character and motives of people.

4. The prophet often communicates what she sees and feels with a disarming directness and frankness, and with fervency and persuasiveness of speech. She may use an emotional tone of voice, which may sound angry or harsh. Sometimes, tears accompany her words.

5. As one deeply concerned for the reputation and program of God, the prophet appeals to the Word of God for her authority.

6. The prophet often experiences brokenness in order to prompt brokenness in others; that is, she has the capacity to personally identify with the sins of others to whom she may be speaking.

7. She desires outward evidences of change to demonstrate inward heart conviction and repentance. (Matthew 3:8)

8. People called to be intercessors often have this gift. They feel the burden of the Lord for His people deeply in their hearts.

9. This gift, when received, does effect conviction, repentance, and change.


1. This gift requires the greatest degree of sanctification, lest it be divisive and destructive.

2. A person with the gift needs to have her love for truth tempered so that her love for people is as great. (Ephesians 4:15)

3. The person with this gift needs to now the limits of her faith because to declare truth (even in love) will often bring rejection and pain. (Romans 12:6)

Temptations to avoid:

1. Falsely, or even correctly, discerning a situation, but then holding people in judgment in your heart.

2. Feeling condemned because you see into the hearts and motives of others.

3. Becoming angry and indignant with people who do not hear or heed your message, and who may even mock and malign you.

4. Becoming discouraged when repentance does not follow; discouraged with the prophetic ministry itself, or with God who gave it to you. (for example, Elijah)

5. Speaking the right word, but at the wrong time, or in the wrong manner.

6. Seeing people as groups, rather than individuals with personal needs and differences.

7. Trusting in your rhetoric and persuasiveness to convince, rather than in the Holy Spirit.

Problems and misunderstandings:

1. Frankness and fervency of speech may be viewed as harshness and emotional instability.

2. Public boldness and strict standards may hinder close personal relationships. (Prophets are traditionally loners.)

3. The strong desire to convey truth may appear as if you have no interest in hearing another person’s point of view.

4. Clear assessment of truth may be judged as having a critical and unforgiving spirit by those who do not have this gift, or those who are being called to repentance.

General counsel for prophets:

1. We need this gift today. We live in a time when truth is not spoken. We do not want to offend or make anyone feel guilty. Peace at any price is common.

2. The Church’s moral values are becoming increasingly blurred. (Isaiah 5:20)

a. The Church is often a failure in Church discipline.

b. Historically the Church kills the prophets God sends because it does not want to change.

3. It is essential those with a prophetic motivational gift be in close fellowship with pastors and leaders of the local flock.

a. They need affirmation, adjustment, and encouragement.

b. They need the ear of leadership to talk their hearts out. (Unreleased prophets can have a smoke-like effect on the body…..like a fire with wet leaves in it. They may speak at the wrong time to the wrong people with a wrong spirit.)

Traits of a prophet:

1. Strong self-image, individualistic, strong sense of duty, does not particularly care what anybody things about what she does, probably a strong, opinionated person, sometimes stubborn, willing to take an underdog role, more depressed than lighthearted about life and its problems, more expressive than inhibited, more dominant than submissive, more hostile than tolerant, more interested in own aims and desires than other people’s.

2. The prophet presents teachings. Speaks to groups rather than individuals. Likes the response of greater commitment. Likes to bring maturity to the saints. Likes an immediate response of repentance.

3. All are commanded to manifest all motivational gifts: 1 Corinthians 14:1 “Make love your aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophecy.” (NIV)

Dichotomy of the prophet:

1. Tough and tender.

2. They exude confidence and strength.

3. Blunt, direct, and frank.

4. Urgency in speech.

5. Brings correction……BUT…..are most sensitive inside.

6. Weeps over the failure of others.

7. Needs affirmation and encouragement.

8. Feels what God feels.

9. Confusion between rejection of the message and rejection of themselves.

10.Most sensitive of all the giftins.

General wisdom for prophets:

1. Praise those around you.

2. Involve yourself in things that bring joy and relaxation.

3. Smile.

4. Don’t get negative or bitter….pray and praise more.

5. See that your mouth is under God’s control.

6. Learn to listen to others.

7. Ease up on your intensity.

When the flesh uses the gift of prophecy:

1. Speaking out God’s revelation before taking it into prayer.

2. Confusing personality conflicts with spiritual discernment.

3. Using God’s revelations for gossip.

4. Trusting your mouth rather than the Holy Spirit.

5. Doing things in your timing rather than God’s.

6. Displaying man-made emotional eccentricities.

7. Listening to people rather than God.

Polluting the gifts:

1. A person with prophetic insight can use her persuasive speech and insight to speak into people’s lives from her own willfulness rather than God’s will.

2. She can spread gossip in the name of the Lord and destroy God’s children rather than taking what she is seeing to the Lord in prayer.

3. The person with prophetic insight must keep a strong vertical relationship with God to keep her horizontal relationships loving and positive, or she will become bitter and destructive.

4. Once she is critical and negative, Satan can use her to destroy, and carry impure words to the flock.

5. The Church is more apt to be torn down from within by false “words from God” than anything non-Christians can do to it. This is how peace, faith, hope, and even love are stolen from the Church.

All passages taken from the New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.