There is a lot of confusion regarding the call into prophetic ministry. Many Christians are looking for confirmation. I get email frequently from people asking, "How can I tell if I am called to be a prophet?" This is an important question. In order to walk worthy of your calling, you first need to be confident God has called you. Once you are sure, you can count the cost and decide whether or not to embrace the spiritual battle that lies ahead.
Although I generally discount "checklists" that tell you whether or not you are an apostle or prophet or operate in some other ministry gifting, there are practical ways for believers to confirm a prophetic calling in their own hearts, which we will discuss in this chapter. And it is safe to say that if you are called into prophetic ministry, mature leaders around you will recognize that call eventually.
There are exceptions to that last point. Some pastors are too insecure to recognize the gifts and callings of those in their midst. But if you are called into prophetic ministry, be assured that people will discern that call in due season. You do not have to make an announcement, try to show off your prophetic gifts or otherwise strive to let people know. God will make it apparent in His time. In fact, waiting for Him to reveal your gifting in public ministry is part of the making process, the course of Holy Spirit training, teaching and practical experience that you will learn about through the pages of this book.
So, are you called into prophetic ministry? Here are two important points to help you address this question.
First, perhaps you received a prophetic word announcing your calling. That could well have been an authentic word, but take the time to look for further confirmation. I have seen prophetic words send sincere believers on spiritual goose chases for gifts and callings that Jesus did not impart. It is sad to see people hold tightly to an erroneous word they believe is genuine and miss God's true call for their lives.
Second, perhaps you are consistently seeing revelatory gifts—such as words of wisdom, words of knowledge and discerning of spirits—manifesting in your ministry. That gives you a hint of your Kingdom vocation. It is actually a better indication that you are called to prophetic ministry than an announcement spoken, say, at the altar by a visiting prophet.
In the King James Version of Ephesians 4:1, Paul urges us to "walk worthy of the vocation wherewith [we] are called."
That word vocation gives us insight into how a calling of God manifests. Another word for vocation is occupation.
Think about it this way: Doctors are educated and trained to practice medicine. That is what they do day in and day out. And they do not just practice medicine at work. They practice medicine at home when someone in the family gets sick. They practice medicine in a restaurant if someone passes out and they hear the cry "Is there a doctor in the house?" Even when doctors retire, they remember the Hippocratic Oath they swore to uphold. Whether they are in the church, the marketplace or the home front, doctors are doctors.
Likewise, if you are called as a prophet, it is an occupation. You cannot turn off the instinct to stand in the office of the prophet any more than a physician can turn off the instinct to help people heal. If you are called to prophetic ministry, you will walk in the revelatory gifts as a way of life, not just occasionally. You will feel the unction to walk in prophetic gifts consistently.
If you have this ministry gift of being a prophet, what might it look like? We will study this in greater detail in later chapters, but, generally, the purpose of prophecy is to reveal the heart, mind and will of God.
Modern-day prophetic ministry is more than the usual public perception. It is more than prophesying over people in prayer lines. It is more than having dreams, visions and angelic visitations. Far more. Modern-day prophets are reformers, like John the Baptist. Prophetic ministry should bring positive change and hope. A reformation mindset is part of what it means to be prophetic. Prophets have reformation in their DNA.
Modern-day prophets are called to prepare a people for the Lord by pointing them to an intimate relationship with Jesus (see John 3:29), equipping them to discern His voice (see Ephesians 4:11–12), speaking words of warning or correction that God gives them (see Matthew 3:2–3) and standing in the gap between man and God (see Ezekiel 22:30). Usually this latter function takes place through intercession. Not all intercessors are prophets, but all prophets are intercessors. It is part of the prophetic priestly duty to make intercession. The first time you see the word prophet in the Bible, it is in connection with intercession (see Genesis 20:7). You cannot separate the prophet from prayer because prayer is the prophet's connection with God and His will.
Modern-day prophetic ministry involves turning the hearts of the fathers toward the sons and the hearts of the sons toward the fathers (see Malachi 4:5–6). The Amplified translation calls this turning a "reconciliation produced by repentance of the ungodly." Prophetic ministry, thus, turns the hearts of believers toward the matters of the Father's heart. Often, that means a cry for repentance as modern-day prophetic ministry works to separate the holy from the profane (see Ezekiel 42:20).
If you are called as a prophet, you will feel moved to root out and to pull down and to destroy and to throw down and to build and to plant (see Jeremiah 1:10). Intense spiritual warfare will be a frequent reality in your life. You will have a sense—a "knowing"—that you are being called to walk a narrower path than some around you. You will feel a sense of duty to honor God's will and be crushed with godly sorrow when you misstep.