When we weigh and test personal prophecies - when someone comes up to us and says ‘I’ve got a word for you’, we generally receive it graciously but we don’t necessarily act on it. We make sure that we get other guidance and confirmation first. In that way we test everything and hold on to the good.
These are the questions I ask when I test prophecy – and this would apply to prophetic words brought to the church in open worship. Does it glorify Christ? Does it build up the body? Is it in accordance with the written word? Is the word given in love? Is Jesus Lord of the speaker’s life?
It’s very important that you actually know the prophet as well as the prophecy. Does the speaker submit to the leaders of the church? From time to time we have had a ‘roving prophet’ attend on a Sunday. For some reason they find me and say things like “there’s a curse on the church”, or things like that. I look at them and say “Do you come to this church?”, “No”, “Do you go to any church?”, “No”. I say “Goodbye.” I do. I actually say “I don’t want you to prophecy and I want you to go somewhere else”. I will do that.
I have done that because it is very important that any gift is in submission to the leadership of a church. Does the speaker allow other prophets or leaders to assess their contributions and their life? Sometimes what happens is that in the middle of worship someone brings something and as you weigh it in your own spirit you either go ‘Yes God’, or you go ‘Uh umm! OK, maybe it’s me, maybe it’s them - but it just didn’t kind of connect with me’. Other times you hear a word brought and you can feel faith rise within you. It points people to God. It doesn’t point it to the man or woman who brings the word - it’s God. And, of course, the ultimate test of prophecy is to ask – is it fulfilled?