A prophet is God's spokesperson on earth. Speaking for God is impossible unless some of the character of God is manifested. Godly character is essential.
God is more concerned with the messenger than the message? Do you see that the minister is more important than the ministry? If the messenger is wrong, the message will be wrong too. If the minister is wrong, the ministry will be wrong. And do you see that the Lord of the work is more important than the work of the Lord? Meditate on these things (Chip Brogden - Letter to a Reluctant Prophet).
God is more concerned that we embody the message than that we preserve our reputation (Mike Bickle - Growing in the Prophetic p.88).
In the long run no man can have high visions and lead a low life (TC Gordon).
Some of the key virtues that will be present in a prophet are as follows.
Power of the Spirit
Peace with God
Integrity and honesty
Tenacity and commitment
Boldness and courage
Loyalty to God will manifest in courage and boldness. There are numerous examples of prophets standing boldly in the face of the political powers. They were often in danger of losing their lives. The Lord told Ezekiel as part of his call that he would need great boldness.
He then said to me: "Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel- not to many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you. But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate. But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house." And he said to me, "Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you (Ezek 3:4-10).
Fulfilling the prophetic ministry will take great boldness. This is doubly true, when the church is weak or rebellious or simply disinterested in the prophetic voice.
Expect misunderstanding. Expect persecution. Expect ridicule. Expect mistreatment. Expect suffering. Expect rejection. Then, you won't be surprised when it comes (Chip Brogden - Letter to a Reluctant Prophet).
Prophets become men of revelation because they follow hard after the Lord and hand themselves over to the Word. Prophets never sound like parrots. Prophets are men of quality. A prophet is one of a kind, never copying, never to be copied. He is comfortable being alone, like Miciah - 2 Chron 18. Sometimes he is horribly lonely like Elijah (Lars Widerberg - The Unwelcome Necessity - The Burden).
Prophets are not interested in consequences only in God's will. There is a divine madness: this marks the Old Testament prophets. This is uncomfortable to have beside the way we operate (Ian Breward).
Confrontation is right at the centre of the prophetic calling. A prophet is one in whom the Lord has invested a lifetime of preparation for one final hour of confrontation (Art Katz The Heart of a Prophet).
Fear of man is the great enemy of God's truth. The only antidote for the fear of man is the fear of God.
In order to rid us of the fear of man, the Lord will prepare a path for us strewn with misunderstanding. Finances will dry up. We will be placed on a shelf for many days, until we no longer look to people as our source. To overcome the fear of man we must be wholly GOD'S and no one else's (Chris Brogden, Fear No Man).
The leader who looks out to the frontier must face away from the people who follow (Robert Gruden - The Grace of Great Things).
God gripped prophets of old had a sensitive awareness of the enormity and unpopularity of their task (L Ravenhill- Why Revival Tarries).
God has promised that he will protect those who serve and obey him. The following passages are just a few examples from the scriptures.
As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, "Strike these people with blindness." So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked. Elisha told them, "This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for." And he led them to Samaria. After they entered the city, Elisha said, "Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see." Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria (2 Kings 6:18-20).
When they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it, they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another. He allowed no man to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings: "Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm." (1 Chron 16:19-22; Ps 105:12-15).
Prophets must be full of the power of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, a prophet cannot function and will be just a babbling voice. The scriptures are clear that prophets must have the Spirit of God upon them.
By your Spirit you admonished them through your prophets (Neh 9:30).
I wish that all the Lord's people were prophets and that the Lord would put his spirit on them (Num 11:29).
I will pour out my Spirit on all people Your sons and your daughters will prophesy, (Acts 2:17).
His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied (Luke 1:67).
The Christian prophet, like all Christians, has absolutely no power in himself. All that he accomplishes must be done by the Holy Spirit's power. To the extent that he neglects this fact, he will fail. Old Testament prophets were men of discipline, wisdom, counsel and insight, not of wild ecstasy (John and Paula Sanford - The Elijah Task).
Prophets today are trained primarily by the Lord Jesus Christ himself through His Holy Spirit. Their training is as much in life as in the classroom. Consequently when we speak of a school for prophets, we mean only that kind of training ground which can prepare the church as a whole to understand and nurture the budding prophets in it's midst. The Holy Spirit is the master teacher, raising His prophets (John and Paula Sanford - The Elijah Task p.60).
The prophet should be careful to walk in the Spirit all the time. He is to pray constantly. This often means silent prayer in tongues (John and Paula Sanford - The Elijah Task p.94).
Isaiah referred to the prophets as the eyes of Israel (Isaiah 29:10). Through the Holy Spirit, the prophets can "see" things regularly that others don't see (Jack Deere - Surprised By The Voice Of God).
A prophet must be totally obedient to God. The prophetic ministry requires a higher standard of holiness than other ministries. 1 Kings 13 tells of a young prophet, who started well, but ended in disaster, because he failed to obey the word that God had spoken to him. All prophets should read this passage frequently.
This is what the Lord says: "You have defied the word of the Lord and have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your fathers." When the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the prophet who had brought him back saddled his donkey for him. As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was thrown down on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it. Some people who passed by saw the body thrown down there, with the lion standing beside the body, and they went and reported it in the city (1 Kings 13:22-25).
Balaam did not practice what he preached, but he was clear about obedience to God.
But can I say just anything? I must speak only what God puts in my mouth (Num 22:38).
Elisha became a prophet by forsaking his life as a farmer and becoming an attendant to Elijah. He learned obedience.
So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant (1 Kings 19:21).
There must be radical pursuit of Jesus to get the pure word of the Lord. Mature prophets are so in love with Jesus and submitted to His Lordship, that they are willing to see the word come back into His hand after receiving it. They won't care whether it is used or simply poured out on the ground (not used) as an offering to the Lord. Words received and given from such a heart of obedience give more life and blessing than those presumptuously spoken (Steve Shultz - The Elijah List).
Do not despair because of there apparent disqualifications. None of them will shut you out from thee the accents of the voice of the God. Notwithstanding all, the Word of the Lord shall come to you; not for your sake alone, but for those to whom you shall be sent. The one thing that God demands of you is absolute consecration to his purpose and willingness to go on any errand on which he may send you (F.B Meyer - Jeremiah p.12).
A dead man is a dangerous man. He cannot be intimidated or threatened (Philippians 1:20) (Arthur Blessit).
It was not their dress, habits, or lifestyles that identified them as prophets. It was their consistent ministry backed up with holiness of character (Iverna Tompkins - Advancing in the Prophetic, p.15).
The prophetic person must be at peace with God. They must always speak out of their relationship with God and not out of reaction to a situation.
There will be times when a prophet gets it wrong. The solution is to repent and turn Back to the Lord. A prophet must keep a short slate with the Lord. God promised protection to Jeremiah, while he had a repentant attitude.
Therefore this is what the Lord says: "If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you," declares the Lord (Jer 15:19,20).
"If we are not moving in peace and rest, we will find ourselves reacting to situations. Reaction rather than rest is anathema to a prophet" (Graham Cooke - Developing Your Prophetic Gifting p.80).
In all the anguish Jeremiah suffered he was always able to turn his eyes upward: sometimes in complaint, often in desperation, yet always ready to acknowledge that his only help lay in God (Milton Smith).
It was this life of unceasing sorrow, this isolation and misunderstanding, that forced the prophet from man to God. To him, he lays bare his troubles, refers his tangled perplexities, offers his keen reproaches or exulting confidence. Beyond other men he is driven into intimate fellowship with God, till it becomes a necessity of his religious life. Thus he came to understand religion as a personal relationship between him and God (Peake -Jeremiah).
Prophetic ministry requires a profound communion with God (Ian Breward).
The Western church has so desperately lacked this contentment. Our present culture and society encourages a state of constant discontentment. It drives its inhabitants to strive and achieve more and more. We are trained in discontentment. We are perpetually assaulted by family, peers, advertising, media, and other avenues that tell us what we lack to achieve this world's fulfilment. If yielded to, this pressure will produce lofty ambitions and selfish, competitive goals (John Bevere - Thus Saith the Lord p.71).
Waiting is an important aspect of the prophetic ministry. Much time will be spent waiting on God. Even more time will be spent waiting for his word to be fulfilled. Those who are impatient will become very frustrated, so patience is essential. It comes out of a dedicated commitment to God and his purposes.
The Bible is clear that word received and spoken can take a long time to be fulfilled.
He replied, "Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end (Dan 12:9).
Between every vision and it's fulfilment is an arduous path. So if all hell seems to have broken loose and nothing is going right, rejoice and praise God under your sufferings. The afflictions may confirm your vision more than anything else. God is breaking you in order that the fulfilment of the vision may be of him (John Sanford).
Part of the problem associated with prophets arises because they often see things that others don't. And they usually see them long before they come to pass. This can be a frustrating position to be in (Tom Hamon - The Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation).
When God has given us a particular vision it is the hardest thing to work and wait. The hardest test for visionary faith is delay. A sure mark of Christian vision is its godly impatience and holy restlessness. Visionary faith has seen more than can be substantiated. It is out to substantiate all that it has seen and can hardly wait for it.
Visionary faith takes on itself the crushing weight of the contradictions of reality. It is often just before the breakthrough that pressure is most intense and faith seems to shudder under the strain. This strain is what causes doubt. The immense weight of contradictory reality crashes against faith. This is not easy. It is one thing to be fired by a vision and get out of an armchair. It is another thing to be fired by a vision and walk through fire and rain (Os Guiness).
Getting ahead of God's timing seems to be a struggle common to those called to ministry. The wise will draw back, allowing the breaking and training process of the Lord to run its course. Those unwise strive against His process and press into their ministries (John Bevere Thus Saith the Lord p.123).
Jeremiah appears to be a pessimist. There were times of very deep depression when he seems to have laboured in vain and to have spent his strength for nought; so that he almost resolved to speak no more in the name of the Lord. But Jeremiah had misunderstood God's promise; which was not that God would deliver him out of his suffering, but that he would keep him in his suffering (Jer 1:19) (Milton Smith).
The first loyalty of a prophet is to the truth. If he is to have any credibility, truth and integrity must permeate his entire life.
But Elijah was fierce and ruthless when he came to issues of truth. There will never be glory in the church till this spirit is restored. It is contrary to the spirit of the age: compromise. God is fierce and jealous for truth, He hates sin, inequity unrighteousness and compromise (Art Katz The Heart of a Prophet).
If you prophesy you need to root out every lie - every white lie, every effort to deceive or mislead, every half truth - whatever - they all have to go. Because if you do not get rid of them the same spirit that gets into your tongue when you lie, will try to get hold of your tongue when you prophesy. If we speak the word of the Lord in prophecy we dare not allow room for less than the truth on any occasion
(Ed Traut - http://www.africaprophecy.co.za/2prophets.htm).
If we are going to use our eyes for the Lord, we must use them only for Him, if we expect to be "full of light" Job made a covenant with his eyes not to look upon that which would cause him to stumble. If we desire prophetic vision we would do well to make that same covenant, that our eyes belong to the Lord and we will not use them for evil. Lust is one of the primary destroyers of prophetic vision. Lust is ultimate, basic selfishness, the exact opposite of the nature of the Lord and the exact opposite of the nature of the true prophetic ministry (Rick Joyner - The Ministry of a Watchman).
The prophets of the end time must know that the Word of God is utterly true and cannot be broken, for it teaches that from the ashes of tribulation the Lord of heaven and earth shall bring forth a new age of glory (John and Paula Sanford - The Elijah Task p. 2,3,4).
Be incorruptible. Learn to apply the word of the Lord to you in specific situations in which you find yourself
(Ed Traut - http://www.africaprophecy.co.za/2prophets.htm).
Pride kills prophets. Vanity is the greatest threat to prophetic ministry. God will have to establish a deep work of humility in the life of anyone he intends to speak for him. Humility is essential.
Paul reminded the church in Corinth that even the most mature prophet has only partial knowledge.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears (1 Cor 13:8-10).
Prophets in the Bible are not known for smugness, pride or bitterness. The biblical prophets loved the people and claimed them as their own; they spoke hard words with broken hearts. Their response to faithlessness was grief, not indignation. They knew that they were sinners; only sinners make good prophets (Jim Wallis - Call to Conversion p.147).
No one will graduate from the Lord's school of listening with his pride intact. In fact no one will ever really become adept in the art of listening. There are simply those who know that God can speak to them and who plead that His mercy may continually override their stubborn hearts and minds. We must remain fumbling children starting from ground zero, to hear God anew every day (John and Paula Sanford - The Elijah Task).
When humiliation is complete, we are ready to graduate to prophecy (John and Paula Sanford - The Elijah Task p. 62).
Information is not knowledge. Knowledge comes through hunger, humility, and application. God reserves knowledge for those who love it. This type of submission exhibits true humility. Humility is not oppressive or restrictive but an agreement with truth. We find it when we lay down our agenda, desires, and will and become impassioned to fulfil God's (John Bevere Thus Saith the Lord p.164).
The holiest of men are the most full of holy fear, holy penitence, holy humility and holy love. And all that is so because the more true spirituality of mind any man has the more exquisite will be that man's sensibility to sin and to the exceeding sinfulness of sin (Alexander Whyte).
There is, fortunately, one measure of authenticity that cannot be feigned or emulated, namely, true meekness. Meekness is not something one learns at school, but something attained by men and women under the hand of God, in union with Him, who is meekness. In other words, it can only be given out of a man's proximity with God, who Himself is meek and lowly of heart; there is no other way to obtain it (Art Katz - Meekness).
Another trap which I commonly see prophetic people fall is the desire to be awesome in ministry, to be "a prophet to the nations". This is exactly the opposite of the true spirit of prophecy. An angel told John, "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Rev 19:10). Prophecy is meant to testify to the awesomeness of Jesus not to the prophetic ministry (Jack Deere Surprised by the Voice of God).
Over the years I have noticed that some of those who have made the greatest advances in prophetic ministry and gifts were the very ones who had previously made some of the most embarrassing mistakes. Their advances usually came right after a great mistake. In fact their one common denominator was that they did not let the mistakes stop them. Humbling themselves by acknowledging the mistakes, they kept on going, trusting a little less in themselves, but determined to trust even more in the Lord (Rick Joyner - The Prophetic Ministry).
To some of us, recognition vindicates what others have misunderstood about us in some form or fashion. It says that we have succeeded. It answers years of pain and toil in being "put behind" by others (Elijah List - Dying To Glory (12/2/01)).
Our shoulders must be realigned to wear the burden of Christ. We will have to really desire for God to find us still hidden, do a work through us, and hide us again. Can we handle God using an opportunity that can bring us from the depths of obscurity, and "forgetting about us," like the worker did with Joseph in prison? Whew! (Elijah List - Dying to Glory (12/2/01)).
Nothing will more quickly destroy a prophetic ministry, or any other ministry, than self seeking, self promotion or self preservation. That is why learning to deal with rejection is mandatory if we are to walk in a true ministry. Rejection is an opportunity to grow in grace and die a little more to ambition, pride and other motives, which will so quickly colour our revelation (Rick Joyner - The Prophetic Ministry).
Humility is the only way to go. You are going to say, "I have humbled myself!" - and for anyone in any depth of prophetic ministry, that's true! But there is no end to the areas of humility that God will speak to us about - he is going to strip every area of our pride before he is finished so that his glory will be seen. Don't hang on to "rights" - if we do God will bless us with another trip around Mt Horeb. It's hot, sticky and very dry in the desert
Whoever then would come in the power of Elijah must divest himself of visions of grandeur (John and Paula Sanford - The Elijah Task).
Refuse to promote yourself, "your" word, or "your" ministry. If God gives you something to say, let Him see to the promotion of it (Chip Brogden - Letter to a Reluctant Prophet).
Old Testament prophets are often portrayed as harsh, uncompromising men. This is incorrect: they were uncompromising but they were never harsh. They shed more tears than priests and kings, because compassion was at the heart of their ministry. God is love, so his truth must always be spoken in love. The harder the message the prophet is speaking the more important that it is spoken with compassion. Jeremiah was a compassionate prophet who often wept over the words that the Lord gave him to speak.
Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people? Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people (Jer 8:21-9:1).
Jeremiah was a prophet at an early age and continued for forty or fifty years. He was a reproving prophet, sent in God's name to tell Jacob of their sins and to warn them the judgements of God that were coming upon them. His style of speech is more plain and rough and less polite than Isaiah's. Plain dealing is best when we are dealing with sinners to bring them to repentance. He was a weeping prophet. He was all along a mournful spectator of the sins of his people and of the desolating judgements that were coming upon them. He was a suffering prophet. He was persecuted by his own people. He lived and preached before the Jew's destruction by the Chaledeans, when their character seems to have been the same as it was just before their destruction by the Romans, when they killed the Lord Jesus, and were contrary to all men because wrath had come upon them (Matthew Henry).
Jeremiah is as famous as the "weeping prophet. But why was he the "weeping prophet"? Because he was the prophet to the heart of his people. Because he identified with his people and saw the awfulness of sin and the fearful judgement of God. He loved his people. So he wept because he saw what was going to happen to them if they did not repent.
The weeping of Jeremiah was not for his own suffering. When he was in prison, we don't find him weeping for himself. When he was beaten and thrown into the cistern, we don't find him weeping for his own problem (Dr Bill Hamon - Prophets Pitfalls and Principles p.70)
There is a deep compassion running right through the ministry of the prophets that reveals their understanding of God as merciful, compassionate and over flowing with loving kindness (Clifford Hill).
The cry from God's heart comes from a man with tear stained face and a sob in his throat. He felt as few have ever felt, the brokenness of God's heart for Israel, God's beloved people. It was only through the deep waters of suffering, that he could understand and appreciate something of the wounded love of God (Milton Smith- Hosea).
William Penn said: Nothing reaches the heart, but what is from the heart; or pierces the conscience. What comes from the head will go to people's head. What comes from the heart will go to people's hearts (P Morrow -Hosea).
Prophets are sent, holding a heavenly mandate, to protect people. The prophet is sent to correct the people. The properly conducted prophetic ministry provokes those who are strong and who live securely to cover and to serve the weak. A prophet, a real prophet is brought up and then brought forth into the arena of man's struggle to be concerned, to be bothered. A man, even worse, a prophet who does not care about the pain of the poor and needy causes the heaviest burden to be machinated and prepared for the Father's heart to carry (Lars Widerburg - Prophets Without Burden).
The prophet, by the very nature of his calling, is a tragic figure. He has a fierce loyalty toward God and he has a broken heart over a lost nation (Leonard Ravenhill - Weeping Between The Porch and The Altar).
Jeremiah proclaimed and proclaimed during forty long years to a people who would not listen. He lived in anguish, because of his love for God's people - not an anguish born of anger or hatred, but the anguish of the bitterness that comes to a man who loves God's people and sees them stubbornly going their own way (Bruce Yocum - The Judgement of God Today).
All prophets will meet with opposition. Jeremiah is an example of a prophet who was treated cruelly.
Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malkijah heard what Jeremiah was telling all the people when he said, "This is what the Lord says: 'Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague, but whoever goes over to the Babylonians will live. He will escape with his life; he will live.' And this is what the Lord says: 'This city will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.' " Then the officials said to the king, "This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, as well as all the people, by the things he is saying to them. This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin." "He is in your hands," King Zedekiah answered. "The king can do nothing to oppose you." So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king's son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud (Jer 38:1-6).
Sometimes the most intense opposition comes from the people who know the prophet well. Jeremiah was warned not to trust his own family.
"If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan? Your brothers, your own family - even they have betrayed you; they have raised a loud cry against you. Do not trust them, though they speak well of you (Jer 12:5,6).
Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honour in his own country (John 4:44).
Prophets must meet opposition with tenacity and total commitment to God's purpose. Once called, a prophet must be totally committed to their ministry. They cannot swerve to the left or the right. Loyalty to God must never be shaken, whatever the circumstances.
All the prophets encounter opposition, but one of the marks of the true prophet was fortitude with which he met the opposition and the tenacity with which he continued to proclaim the message. Each of the prophets displayed the quality of total commitment to the ministry to which he was called. There was no turning back or weakening. Once the prophet had embarked upon his public ministry he was marked out as a man of God. His loyalty was to God alone whatever the consequences. Each of the prophets was driven by a kind of inner compulsion to fulfil whatever task was given regardless of the danger of or personal suffering that may result. Jeremiah is probably the best example of the prophet who could not be silenced or induced to vary the message despite threats, abuse, physical violence and the menace of imminent death (Clifford Hill - Prophecy, Past and Present p.50).
Prophets are often task focused: suffering from a compulsion to fulfil their calling, no matter what it will cost them. Jeremiah understood that he could let nothing stop him from fulfilling his calling.
O Lord, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. I hear many whispering, "Terror on every side! Report him! Let's report him!" All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying, "Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him." (Jer 20:7-10).
God told Ezekiel that he would need similar tenacity in face of opposition.
He said to me, "Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you." As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. He said: "Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says.' And whether they listen or fail to listen-for they are a rebellious house-they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briars and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious (Ezek 2:1-7).
To be a prophet requires vision, courage, discipline and grace. To be a priest requires faith and perseverance (John Pollock- Billy Graham).
Preachers make pulpits famous, prophets make prisons famous. May the Lord send us prophets; terrible men who cry out aloud and spare not, who sprinkle with woes. Men to hot to hold, to hard to be heard, to merciless to spare. Great eagles fly alone; great lions hunt alone; great souls walk alone- alone with God. Such loneliness is hard to endure, and impossible to enjoy unless God accompanied. Prophets are lone men; they walk alone, pray alone and God makes them alone (L Ravenhill- Why Revival Tarries).
He is fanatical! It is not just to announce the purpose, but to demand that everything else be related to it. That is prophetic intensity and prophetic insistence. We are not only to understand the ultimate and full purposes of God, but everything else that constitutes our life and being is to be related to that. That will require a radical adjustment, and that is why prophets are not popular. That requirement is painful and that is why people do not want to hear it (Art Katz - What is the Prophetic Church).
Prophets are different.
Prophets don't fit in easily like other people. They often seem to be off on a tangent, worrying about something that most people don't care about. The prophet is often out of step with the mood of the times. They often seem to be misfits.
The Christian prophets' power is to humble the mighty and to raise the destitute. When others are laughing, he weeps in his spirit, and when they weep, his spirit rejoices. For he is one step ahead in vision, and in the burden on his spirit. The Lord is the forerunner, but he is most often that forerunner through his prophets. They go before him to prepare his way in the body. When the church is rejoicing and celebrating the victory of the Lord, the prophet is already called to the next battle, the next pit of sorrow. The next work of the Lord is upon him. When the body of Christ is grovelling in pain and repentance, the prophet is rejoicing both that the body is repenting and that the reward of the Lord's mercy is coming.
To a person endowed with prophetic insight, everyone else appears blind; to a person whose ear perceives God's voice, everyone else appears deaf. No one is just; no knowing is strong enough, no trust complete enough. The prophet hates the approximate, he shuns the middle of the road. Man must live on the summit to avoid the abyss. There is nothing to hold to except God. Carried away by the challenge, the demand to straighten out man's ways, the prophet is strange, one-sided, an unbearable extremist. The prophet disdains those for who God's presence is comfort and security; to him it is a challenge, an incessant demand. God is compassion, not compromise; justice, though not inclemency. The prophet's predictions can always be proved wrong by a change in man's conduct, but never the certainty that God is full of compassion. The prophet's word is a scream in the night. While the world is at ease and asleep, the prophet feels the blast from heaven (Abraham Heschell - The Prophets).
A prophet always stands in danger of being thought insane. He does not see what other men see. He has the strangest kind of intuitive grasp of things. It seems as if fresh from heaven he is astounded by the carnality of men. He gasps and cannot stand, wondering that no one cries out (Art Katz - The Heart of a Prophet).
Ezekiel was not what we consider a normal person, but his abnormality is a key to his greatness, as has been the case with many of histories notable personality. Ezekiel's seems to have been a harsh ministry, but zeal to vindicate God and to preserve a remnant for mission proves him to have guided by profound insight. Among the truly great men of God stands this strange contradictory figure whose creative spirit, energised by God helped to return the mainstream of religion to its proper channel of mission. Ezekiel was a man of his times, and the time in which he lived was a time of great social, political and spiritual flux, that could have become either the basis for new creative understanding of the place of God in the life of man, or the dying of and inadequate faith. It was largely due to Ezekiel that out of the ashes of destruction came the resurrection of new faith and hope (Anonymous).
However, be careful! Being different does not make you a prophet. The same symptoms are present in people who are rebellious or have a bad attitude. Many difficult and contentious Christians think they are prophetic, when they really just have sin issues that they have refused to deal with. In the end, they give the prophetic ministry a bad name.
This high standard of character does not come easily. God will spend many years preparing a prophet, generally by putting them "through the mill".
No beginner can be that pure. Therefore the budding prophet will be thrashed, beaten, scorned, humiliated, laughed at and rejected will fall into error and rise again; until God rules in every part of him God teaches in the rude world of trial and error (Sanfords).
When God call Isaiah to the prophetic office, He first purged his mouth with a burning coal from the golden altar of incense of heaven. God's prophets still need their mouths purged before speaking in the name of God (Iverna - Tompkins - Advancing in the Prophetic, p.37).
The prophet more than all others, save the apostles must die to self, daily. His word must not be his own. There are dire warnings upon the prophet who speaks not out of God's Spirit but from the contrary winds of his own soul (Jer 23, Ez 13).
What discipline, training and chastisement is required! The prophet, more than all others, save the apostle, must die to self, daily. His word must not be his own. What dire warnings Jeremiah 23 and Ezekiel 13 heap upon the soulish prophet who speaks not out of God's Spirit but from the contrary winds of his own soul. No beginner can be that pure. God teaches in the rude world of trial and error. Therefore the budding prophet will be thrashed, beaten, humiliated, scorned, laughed at, and rejected, will fall into error and arise- only to fall again, until, in every part of him, like Nebuchadnezzar, he knows -with grass in his mouth that the "Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will" (Dan 4:32) (John and Paula Sanford - The Elijah Task).
Whoever would stand in the spirit and power of Elijah must be willing to wear the inner camel's bristle. He may never take it off. For the spirit of Elijah is the spirit of repentance. Repentance is not sadness. Repentance is change. Change is joy. The prophet's nature must never become fixed, stationary, and unbending (John and Paula Sanford - The Elijah Task p.10).
The ministry, the office of a prophet takes learning, it takes the toil of gathering experience, but it does not necessarily require the gift of prophecy. The seer is marked by intellectual capacity and maturity. Spiritual gifting neither guarantees truth nor constitutes maturity (Lars Widerberg - The Seer).
Most prophetic people get in touch with their giftings long before they cultivate the corresponding wisdom, humility and character that is necessary to succeed in prophetic ministry. In the beginning, they may appear arrogant or pushy because of their zeal. As years go by, their pushiness usually comes from fear, hurt and rejection (Mike Bickle - Growing in the Prophetic p.142).
If God is able to find the right vessel the Word will come forth in abundance. Therefore, he takes much time to mould, fashion, train, refine, purge, break down, build up, discipline and create His prophets. Yield to that process. It cannot be rushed, but it may certainly be hindered. We cannot force the Spirit, but we may certainly quench Him (Chip Brogden - Letter to a Reluctant Prophet).
Sometimes the preparation of the prophet may include a time in the isolation of the wilderness.
My second point is that the Wilderness is a valid place to be for people who are being broken, trained and moulded by God. Many of God's heroes, big and small, down the ages, have been personally dealt-with by God in the Wilderness. And I believe that many of those whom God has been preparing to have a part in His new move have been taken through the Wilderness by God in our day. The Wilderness is not the answer in itself. It is a waypoint. If you get stuck in the Wilderness, like the children of Israel did, you are in trouble. If you like the look of the Wilderness more than the Promised Land, you are in big trouble. The Wilderness swallowed most of the children of Israel whole. They did not use it as preparation, like they were supposed to. They went to the place of testing and failed the test. But historically, the Wilderness has been a very important place of brokenness and training, where God has prepared men and women before using them in some way (Andrew Strom).
We will not turn aside to see the 'burning bush' of God in which the Lord Himself is in the midst, in the revelation of Himself that waits on that moment of a particular kind, if we have not already 'turned aside to see' the 'burning bushes' of the issues of our own life. Most of us look away and our past is the wreckage of failed marriages, failed relationships, failed church situations, where we go on to something else and sweep the past under the proverbial rug and have not turned aside to see. It is painful and that is why people do not turn aside, and we look to the next situation to remove the memory of the past. That is the human propensity and it is a propensity that the prophet cannot indulge. He has got to have the guts to face up to his own past and his own failures. In fact, those failures have very likely been given him by God to fit him that he might not miss the 'burning bush' when it comes in the moment of his final calling (T. Austin-Sparks - What is Prophetic Ultimacy?).
Many of the quotes in this section suggest a high level of preparation and character development through suffering. This is true for those called to a higher level of prophetic ministry. Great intensity of preparation and holiness will be required. This will be particularly important in times of apostasy and rebellion against God. Troubled times call for drastic and radical ministry. However, for most people, being prophetic will be much simpler. They will be the member of the eldership team who asks the hard questions and challenges sin in all its form. They may not need the same intensity of preparation, but they will still need to manifest all the characteristics outlined above.