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Prophetic Guidelines: A Brief Introduction

Mark Virkler's picture

What follows is a basic introduction to the experience of giving and receiving prophetic words. More can be said so I have supplied additional resources at the end of this article. 

Seven foundational principles upon which a healthy prophetic ministry is built

  1. The heart of Christianity is FRIENDSHIP with Jesus (“I have called you friends” - Jn. 15:15). Our friendship relationship with Jesus is similar to all friendship relationships we build in life. We spend time in the other's company, seeing them, dialoguing with them, and feeling their emotions. Their presence strengthens and empowers us. Each of these traits applies to our friendship with Jesus. For example: “My sheep hear My voice (Jn. 10:27). We behold Him (Acts 2:25; Heb. 12:1,2) and are transformed while we look (2 Cor. 3:16-18; 4:16-18). Our spirits pick up His emotions (Gal. 5:22-25; Rom. 14:17) and are strengthened by His presence (Neh. 8:10; Phil. 4:13). The prophetic nurtures all these realities.


  1. The prophet does not replace or displace a personal relationship with Jesus by themselves becoming the voice and vision of God in the believer’s life. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father but through Me” (Jn. 14:6). In the new covenant, neither the Pope nor pastor nor prophet is to hear from God for the people. When Christ died on the cross, the veil into the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom so we all can enter into the direct presence of God and receive from Him (Matt. 27:51; Heb. 9:3; 10:20).  Now everyone has the capacity to prophesy (1 Cor. 14:30).
  2. The content of prophetic words is the same as those spoken by Jesus. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life (Jn. 6:63 NASB). Let your words become beautiful gifts that encourage others; do this by speaking words of grace to help them (Phil. 4:29 TPT). When someone prophesies, he speaks to encourage people, to build them up, and to bring them comfort (1 Cor. 14:3 TPB). You will note in this verse that prediction is not one of the three primary categories of New Testament prophecy.
  3. Predictive prophecies are discouraged as they can easily NOT come to pass. For example, when a person changes the course of their lives, God re-adjusts what He says He will do (Jonah 3:4,5,10; Ezek. 33:13-16; Jer. 18:7-10). Jonah clearly predicts a future that does NOT come to pass: "In forty days Nineveh will be overthrown." They were NOT overthrown because they repented and God changed His mind. This means the future is in flux and dependent upon man’s response. Obedience to His voice brings blessing, and not listening to His voice brings calamity (Deut. 28:1-58). If God does share His destiny for an individual's life, the receiver of that word should be asking daily, "Lord, what are Your instructions for me today which will move me forward in Your plan for my life?" Expect specific ongoing instructions even as God provided ongoing instructions for Abraham (Gen. 22). To succeed one must hear these mid-course corrections and act in obedience to what God is speaking. So daily friendship, communion, and obedience to His voice are required in order to fully experience God’s destiny, blessing, and purpose in your life.
  4. The role of those who mature into the “office” of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher is to train up others to function in each of these roles (Eph. 4:7-11). For example, the prophet is training others how to hear, see and feel in the spirit realm with the goal of enhancing their friendship with Jesus. The instruction would include: (1) One turns their attention to the spirit world and away from self, logic, reason, and the noise of this natural world. (2) They fix their eyes on Jesus, seeing Jesus present with them (Acts 2:25; Jn. 5:19,20). (3) They tune to the River of the Spirit which flows within, meaning they tune to flowing thoughts (God’s voice), flowing pictures (God’s visions), and flowing emotions (God's kingdom emotions of love, joy, peace). (4) Finally, they release what they receive through journaling or speaking, art or music or prophetic gestures, or prophetic acts of kindness. The above four keys are found in Habakkuk 2:1,2; John 7:37-39; Revelation 1:9-11; Hebrews 12:1,2.
  5. Your multitude of counselors provides you with victory (Prov. 11:14). Each individual should seek out a minimum of 2-3 counselors (2 Cor. 13:1), who together can express the five heart motivations present in a five-fold team (Eph. 4:7-11). These include the apostle/organizer, prophet/innovator, evangelist/marketer, pastor/caregiver, teacher/educator. In addition to this multitude of counselors, the individual also listens to God through His voice in their hearts, dreams, visions, illumined Scripture, the fruit of life, and peace in his heart. God’s voice will harmonize through each of these various channels, and no major decision should be made without this harmonization.
  6. Authoritarianism, the spirit of control, and legalism are strictly forbidden. Jesus always provided His disciples the freedom to choose (Jn. 6:67; Lk. 22:24-30). Agabus prophesied that Paul would be bound and taken captive, but this prophecy did not deter Paul from choosing to continue on his way to Jerusalem. Paul followed what he felt was right in his spirit (Acts 21:10-15). We never violate the leading of God in our hearts, even if a senior prophet tells us they have a word from God that is contrary to what God has spoken to us (1 Kings 13:11- 26).

The most mature prophetic ministry I have ever witnessed in a church was a church that had the recognized prophets sit in the front row off to the side. One of the pastors was present there also, and anytime during the service that one of the prophets felt they had a word for the body, they would go to that pastor and whisper it to them (generally during the worship time). Then at appropriate breaks, the pastor would point to the prophet, and that prophet would come to the microphone and share the word with the congregation.

Journaling about the prophetic flow: Mark, the prophetic flow is My flow. It is the flow of My Spirit within each and every person. It is Me, alive, moving, expressing Myself, giving life to all that I touch. It is the River John saw flowing from the Throne of My Father. Abide in My River. Live by My River. Be refreshed by My River and your life will flourish and be fruitful. Behold I have spoken. Behold it is to be done. (Rev. 22; Jn. 7:37-39; Ps. 1:3).

Resources for training on God’s voice and the prophetic flow

Related Resources: 

How to Be Empowered by the Holy Spirit!   

Related Blogs: 

Honoring the Holy Spirit   
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