VERSE: Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives —especially the ability to prophesy. 1 CORINTHIANS 14:1

The gift of prophecy is one of the most neglected instructions in the New Testament. Paul tells the Corinthians —not apostles, not church leaders, but regular people who haven’t done a great job of handling spiritual gifts —to seek the gift of prophecy. And not only are they to seek it, but they are also told to seek it zealously —literally to covet it, be jealous for it, and eagerly pursue it. In other words, Paul wants us to listen to him and heed his teachings, but also to be able to hear God’s voice on our own and express it to one another.

Prophecy is a much-misunderstood gift. Most people think that prophecy is just predicting the future or foretelling events that haven’t happened yet. But this is only part of what prophecy really is. The true definition of prophecy includes not only foretelling events that haven’t happened yet (which is called foreknowledge), but also declaring God’s Word for today (which is called forth-telling). That’s why Paul tells us:

"Pursue love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy."

Clearly, this isn’t an Old Testament–style warning: “If you say you speak God’s words and get it wrong, the penalty is death by stoning.” It’s an open invitation, not a narrowing of the boundaries to limit impostors. It’s an encouragement for all believers to listen, to tune in to the divine heartbeat and become vessels of revelation for others, to try to pursue and cultivate the gift of prophecy.

And considering Paul’s audience, the implications are surprising: Anyone can do this. It isn’t just for Isaiahs and Jeremiahs and Ezekiels, with staggering words of warning and enormous burdens of responsibility. It’s for average folks, anyone with a heart to hear. And, as Paul indicates in 1 Corinthians 14:3, it is for strengthening, encouraging, and comforting others.

God is a communicator looking for people who will learn the keys to hearing Him; who will listen for His insight and direction for specific situations and then express it to others. Too many people disqualify themselves from God’s invitation, either by false perceptions of their own gifts or false perceptions of God. Still, He calls us to come deeper into His presence with listening ears —and with the rock-solid conviction that He will make His voice known.

God wants us to know Him intimately so we can hear His still small voice and follow His direction as we navigate this world. As we grow in our relationship with Him, we learn how to recognize His voice when He speaks. We also learn how to communicate what we hear from Him in a way that is beneficial to others.


Holy Spirit, teach me to prophesy. I choose to eagerly pursue all of your gifts, but especially the gift of hearing You and declaring Your words to others —to encourage them, comfort them, and build them up.

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