Is Personal Prophecy Biblical?

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Personal prophecy occurs when a prophecy is given to a person through another individual. Prophecy is making known the heart, mind and intention of the Father.


Many people today are asking the question, ‘is personal prophecy Biblical?’ This response is not surprising, given much of which is purported to be Christian personal prophecy in the world today.

I regularly receive reports from people who have been misled or hurt, or pastors who have experienced trauma in their churches through damaging ‘personal prophecy.’

However, as a member of a prophetic team that ministers throughout local churches, I constantly see the benefits of personal prophecy [1]:

  • Receivers of personal prophecy are encouraged and motivated in their relationship with God
  • Individuals become aware of the Father’s love for them as they receive a personal word
  • Churches are built in faith as the Holy Spirit reveals knowledge about one of their members that is known to them but not to the giver of the prophecy
  • I frequently see people who have had a personal prophecy given to them during a church meeting rush to the altar at the close of the service, in a desire to recommit their lives to God
  • Recently I gave a prophecy to a non-Christian in a meeting, and he came to the altar in tears and gave his life to Jesus.

Personal Prophecy in the Old Testament

God walked and talked personally with Adam and Eve in the garden. But when humanity became separated from Him through sin, God communicated to His people through the law and His prophets. (John 1:45)

Because people did not have a personal relationship with God, they relied on the prophets to convey God’s immediate instructions to them. In the Old Testament (OT), this included commissioning, warnings, commands, judgment, foretelling, and encouragement.

Some examples from the Old Testament include:

  • In Judges 4:4 the prophet Deborah summons Barak and gives him God’s command to do battle against Sisera, commander of Jabin’s army
  • In 1 Samuel 2, an unknown prophet shared a message of judgment against the priest Eli and his corrupt family. This was soon confirmed through the boy prophet Samuel
  • In 1 Sam 22 the prophet Gad gave instructions to David concerning a warfare strategy
  • The prophet Samuel commissioned both King Saul and King David. In 2 Kings 9: Elijah sent an unnamed prophet to commission Jehu
  • Nathan the prophet shared God’s intentions with King David concerning his son Solomon’s building of the temple and his enduring dynasty (2 Sam 7)
  • Isaiah prophesied to King Hezekiah of his recovery from illness (Is 38)
  • Jeremiah prophesied to the scribe Baruch that his life would be spared (Jer 45)
  • The prophet Haggai brought God’s instruction to Zechariah and Zerabbabel concerning the rebuilding of the temple

Personal Prophecy in the New Testament

Personal prophecy continues in the New Testament (NT); however circumstances have changed. Through faith in Jesus, people now have a personal relationship with God. They can hear from Him personally.

Prophecy is now one of many gifts in the church body, interdependent upon other gifts and ministries and subject to accountability and leadership. (1 Cor 12, 14)

Here are some examples of personal prophecy in the NT:

  • Simeon blesses Joseph and Mary when they present Jesus in the temple and gives them a personal prophecy (Luke 2:25-35)
  • In Acts 21, Agabus gives a personal prophecy to Paul concerning his upcoming arrest. Agabus is not a loner—he is one of a company of prophets from the church in Jerusalem. (Acts 11:27-28) This prophecy is confirmation of what God is already speaking to Paul—perhaps even through other prophecies (Acts 20:23)
  • Paul exhorts Timothy to remember and follow personal prophecies that have been given to him (1 Tim 1:18-19)
  • Paul also refers to special commissioning prophecy brought over Timothy when the church elders laid their hands on him. (1 Tim 4:14) Acts 13:1-3 also indicates that commissioning prophecy takes place with the participation and oversight of church leadership
  • We see Jesus Himself giving personal prophecy to Nathanael (John 1:50-51) and Peter (John 21:18). The woman at the well is so taken with Jesus’ personal insights into her life that she says, “Sir, I can see you are a prophet.’ (John 4:19)

The Biblical Practice of Personal Prophecy

Personal prophecy is undoubtedly Biblical. However, the question remains, ‘What does the Biblical practice of personal prophecy look like for us today?’ [2]

Many of the damaging practices that have given personal prophecy a bad reputation are due to people modeling their ministry after that of the Old Testament prophets, and ignoring New Testament guidelines for prophecy. [3]

There are clear distinctions between the Old and New Testament roles of prophetic ministry, as I have mentioned above. These changes impact the practice of personal prophecy.

A Checklist for Personal Prophecy

Following is a checklist that includes NT guidelines for prophetic ministry in general—and personal prophecy in particular.

I encourage all of my readers to consider these things before giving a personal prophecy, or receiving personal prophecy from anyone.

These guidelines will also be helpful in weighing up personal prophecy that has already been received.

1. Accountability (1 Cor 14:29)

Paul states that prophecy should be weighed up—therefore it is vital that personal prophecy be given in an environment that facilitates this.
If a personal prophecy is not given in the context of a church meeting and goes beyond a general word of encouragement, it should be submitted to oversight. [4]

Both givers and receivers of prophecy should be in a place of accountability and members in a local church body (1 Cor 14).
A personal prophecy should be given in such a way that it allows room for the recipient to weigh up the prophecy and consider whether it is of God.

2. Love (1 Cor 13)

Personal prophecy should originate from a heart of love for God and for the person being ministered to. The prophecy should accurately reflect the Father’s heart towards the recipient of the word.

3. A Godly Life (2 Tim 2:20-26, 1 Tim 3)

A prophetic minister should demonstrate a lifestyle of integrity and righteousness. He or she should be commended, recognised and under leadership.

4. Confirmation.

(See the illustration of Agabus, above)

Because Christian believers have a personal relationship with God, prophecy is a confirmation of what God is saying, or will say in the future, to them—it is not direct instruction, as in the OT.

Personal prophecy should not be sought after as a primary means of guidance.

5. Encouragement, Exhortation, Edification

Paul said that ‘those who prophesy speak to people for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.’ (1 Cor 14:3)
Personal prophecy should be encouraging and upbuilding. It should move a person towards God and His purposes, and motivate him or her to live a life pleasing to God.

6. Fruit of the Spirit

(Gal 5:22-23)

A personal prophecy should exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit in both its expression and outcome: ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.’

It should promote unity and consideration for others. (James 3:13-18)

The fruit of the Spirit does include conviction leading to repentance—but not condemnation.

In the OT, prophecy included words of judgment, but this is not the case in the NT. We are in an era of grace, one in which the Father is giving every person an opportunity for redemption through His Son, Jesus.

7. Biblical Content

Finally and most importantly, a personal prophecy should be in harmony with God’s will as set out in scripture. A prophecy will not contradict Biblical principles.

Note that commissioning prophecy (prophecy that indicates appointment to a place of position in ministry) should not be a part of personal prophecy. In the NT, commissioning is done by the church oversight (1 Tim 4:14, Acts 13:1-3). A person who feels that he or she has a word that is in any way commissioning, should submit it to the person’s oversight and not directly to the individual.


Notes:

[1] I am blessed to be on team with David McCracken Ministries.

[2] This article is limited to discussion on personal prophecy between Christians. These guidelines do also relate to prophetic evangelism—however this is a different topic altogether.

[3] For more discussion on this read my articles:

How Do You Weigh Up What The Prophets Are Saying Pt 1

How Do You Weigh Up What The Prophets Are Saying Pt 2

[4] We should be especially wary of prophecy given or received over the Internet (‘free personal prophecy’) where it is not possible to verify much of the above criteria.

More articles on personal prophecy from Enliven Blog:

How Do I Know A Personal Prophecy Or Dream Interpretation Is From God?

How To Make The Most Of Your Personal Prophecy

4 Things You Can Do With Your Personal Prophecy


© Helen Calder 2011

Enliven Ministries: In the David McCracken Ministries family

15 thoughts on “Is Personal Prophecy Biblical?

  1. wildlittlefan

    Thank you for your teaching on personal prophecy and it is surely a Biblical teaching that will edify the body of Christ.I have experience with many personal prophecy before and most if them were encouraging. The most powerful one I had was the one I got about three years ago. A well known and a prophet of God who taught with solid biblical teaching once told me howI will experience in my future. When I first heard the message , I know it was a warning from God and it was a preparation for myself to get ready for what will happen to me at that moment.After three years and it turned out everything was just happened like what my personal prophecy had said to me.I am looking for another personal prophecy for me but don’t know where I can find one. It would be nice if Enliven can pray for me about this or give me a word from the Lord if there is any (I definitely need some words from the Lord at this moment even I read the Bible and will seek the Lord by myself, but sometimes He is just silence .). Anyway, it is good to have a blog like this for Christians who would like to know more about this topic and receive the blessing from it. God bless you.

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi there, and thank you for leaving your note. Yes, personal prophecy can be a means of great encouragement. You remind me of a very important benefit of personal prophecy… That it can help us prepare and position for God’s purposes in our lives. Many years ago I received a prophecy concerning the call of God on my life which included the exhortation to ‘stay committed…stay submitted.’ so many times I could have been taken off course if I had not done just that.

      As far as giving personal prophecy, we don’t do it over the Internet. This is for some of the reasons I outline in the above article Email or Internet is not an environment where there is the means to biblically weigh it up or have accountability. We don’t know the recipient, nor the recipient’s leadership.
      But I do pray that you will hear clearly as you pray and seek God through His Word.

  2. shirley scroggins

    I do thank you so much for your articles,they are really enlightening and encouraging, I recently received what I called a confirmation from an Evangelist during a revival, she had the word of knowledge or prophercy, anyway, I had been feeling very dry and so far away from God, but she spoke and told me that God had given me the gift of prophecy and I needed to stop being afraid to speak what God gives me, well in the church I go to, we do not participate in the 5 fold ministries, even though I know that God has gifted me, he told me he call me to speak the truth also other things, but I do not use my gifts in church and sometimes that really can have an effect on the person, but after reading the articles you write I am even more encouraged and I am learning so much from them, thank you again and please let the gits that God has given you continue, so that people like me may be blessed and encouraged.

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Shirley,
      I’m glad to hear that you have had some recent encouragement and that my articles have been a blessing to you.
      Even though your church does not openly encourage prophetic ministry, that doesn not mean that you need to be be shut down in your gift…let the river flow other ways.
      Ask Father for words and scriptures of encouragement, you can share these with people on the basis of encouragement without saying they are prophetic. Let the Holy Spirit lead you to people to encourage and minister to both at church and in your everyday life. You will be blessed and released when you see that He is giving you supernatural insights!
      Thank you so much for your note, it’s a blessing to me too xo

  3. irene Kyriacou

    Hi Helen, Thank you for sharing such Wisdom and Clarity on a topic, that can sometimes bring confusion. The Checklist is very Important, for our own Safety. I personally feel it is important to have some sort of Guidelines and Boundaries, for safety and accountability. Also, I just wanted to mention that I have just heard a very POWERFUL and ANOINTED Message on the David McCracken Ministries Podcast site titled,
    ” Out of The Box ” , Thank you Helen for this very Inspirational Message you have shared with us on the DMM Podcast site.
    I love your thoughts ” Break Our Spiritual Gifts Out of the Box ” and ” Contagious Faith ” . You got me thinking about, how we are the Aroma of CHRIST and Spread HIS Fragrance everywhere we go, People Breathe in the Exquisite Fragrance of CHRIST. Like the Fragrance in the Air, we can Change the Atmosphere wherever we are, because we are CARRIERS of HIS GLORY . We are the vessels HE uses to diffuse the Fragrance of Heaven wherever we go. The Rivers of Living Water are Within US, and they Flow OUT from US, so we can Impact People to know JESUS.

    Helen your Prayer moved my Heart deeply, I felt such Love and Compassion for the Unsaved and Prodigals as you Prayed, my tears were flowing, I heard this message twice and both times I cried during the Prayer, while feeling HIS Holy Presence. You know it’s so funny how someone can feel the Presence of GOD by just listening to a Sermon on the computer. Thanks again sister, You are Impacting so many People in this world, and in the Body of CHRIST.

    This is just a poem I wrote to encourage myself with,

    Showers and Sunshine
    Winter and Spring
    To GOD be the Glory in Everything
    We go from Glory to Glory
    From Strength to Strength
    From Victory to Victory
    Into HIS image we have been Made

    Flourishing, Blossoming, Abiding in the Vine
    Sending forth the Fragrance of the Divine
    Shine JESUS Shine
    A Reflection of HIS Glory
    A Reflection of HIS Grace
    A Mirror of HIS Face

    You are a Carrier of HIS Glory
    Heaven Tells the Story
    You are a Shining Light
    Glowing ever so Bright
    Inside of You is a Treasure
    The SPIRIT of GOD Without Measure

    Poem By Irene Kyriacou

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Irene, thank you so much, especially for your feedback on the ‘Out Of The Box’ message. It’s kind of a life message for me, so to hear that it moved you is very encouraging! I have been speaking on it at some churches lately and have a passion to stir people to be ‘naturally supernatural’ and win people to Jesus. So nice to get some feedback on the podcast too 🙂
      For anyone else that is interested you can find it on the podcast page on my blog here: http://enlivenpublishing.com/blog/podcast/

  4. wildlittlefan

    Helen, It has been a long time I haven’t received a personal prophecy from someone with such gift. It would be nice if I can get one for my presents situation. However, I can still remember when I first encounter people with such gift and it was very a blessing for me. I appreciate for this biblical teaching on personal prophecy because there are times people can give out a personal prophecy without love and it really brings damage more than edification for the body of Christ. It would be nice to have a mentor who is gifted and experience with this gift, so that more people can be build up with a better and solid foundation. Thanks for this article and God bless you and I will be very happy if I can receive a personal prophecy even I knew that it is more important to hear from God and seek His face in a daily basis.

  5. Helen Calder Post author

    I understand your desire for a personal prophecy. In the times when they are given to us, they can be a real blessing – then and ongoing as you review and pray about it and hold on to God’s promises.
    But there are many seasons I have gone through where I have not had a significant personal prophecy for a very long time, and that’s OK too.
    In those times, the voice of God to us personally can be clearer than ever (I recommend journaling and if you search the blog you will find articles on it). They are also times of personal growth and developing our faith. So I have learned not to seek after them, but to trust Father for His timing and ways of speaking to me.
    I often get people asking for personal prophecy from me, but because of the factor of accountability that I discuss in the article above, we (David McCracken Ministries) do not give personal prophecies to people over the Internet or email.

    1. wildlittlefan

      Helen,
      I understand what you mean and I agree with that. Thank you for your response and may God keep using you and your ministry as well. It is always a blessing to read your article anyway. God bless you.

  6. Jorge

    I’ve rubbed shoulders with quite a few number of friends who believe this stuff. However, I disagree with the article. Unless I can be persuaded, I do not believe the concept of “personal prophecy” is biblical.

    The main reason is this: Anyone who received a Prophecy in Scripture was either a leader or representative of a people group of church. The people were the faces of these groups or important persons. In a sense, they were not their own like the average Joe who receives a “personal prophecy.”

    I don’t mind being wrong, but can anyone inform me if I am mistaken? Thanks!

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Jorge,
      that’s a great point you raise about the examples being ‘important people.’
      The individuals who appear in the Bible and Bible stories are usually ‘significant’ (even by virtue of appearing in the Scripture). However, their stories are recorded to teach us about our own lives and how we respond to God. We learn faith from Abraham for example, wisdom from Solomon. Many leaders received visions, or dreams, we learn how God communicated to His people personally in many ways in both the OT and NT, including prophecy.
      If you use your reason to dismiss the reality of God speaking to individuals through personal prophecy, then you must dismiss other ways that leaders hear from God in the Bible as well as being not relevant for us ‘average Joe’s’.
      (By the way, I believe we are all extraordinary in His sight :-))
      Thanks again for the insight, Jorge, definitely worth considering.

  7. Gwendolyn

    My experience with personal prophesy has been varied. I believe that if we remain in Christ and abide in him, we have all we need. Salvation is a restoration of that relationship with God that was broken at Eden. My experience of personal prophesy has been about getting things : a husband is on the way, a new car,a promotion – almost akin to fortune telling. This has left me pinning my hope on the prophesy and not on God. I gave me a false sense of security of the future, until they didn’t come to pass. It came to a point where I was weary of Prophesies and simply did not trust them.
    my view on that now is along the lines you mentioned in your article. Our fellowship with God is what is important. He guides us and leads us. Ultimately He will order our steps, whether it is prophesied or not. I trust more in that leading than I do a prophesy. What benefit is it to me to know of tomorrow, when we have all we need for today?

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Gwendolyn, thank you for sharing the wisdom you have learned along the way! I believe like you that prophecy is not about desires of the soul (getting things), it is about what is on Father’s heart. Continue to trust in His leading!

  8. Franklin karunakaran

    In Genesis we read many were talking to God .For example Abraham,Job.Later people gone away from God.Then God talked through prophets especially to Kings as it will have an effect on the whole nation.Most of the prophets had a bad treatment.The birth of Jesus Christ was prophesied.Even now we are happy that Jesus Christ came to this world to save the sinners and downtrodden.After the Crucifixion Jesus Christ defeated Satan in the cross.Holy Spirit was given to us.God Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit are inseparable.One can prophesies to Church but to improve the faith of congregation and never to hurt.At some stage prophecy and speaking in tongues are not kept on top.Two thousand years passed.The situation is not the same.Individual believer is important and Jesus Christ is talking to him.When we attain higher spiritual standards we can talk to the messengers of God, Jesus Christ and vice versa.There is no gap between Jesus Christ Holy Spirit and the believer.Prophecy becomes secondary though it remains.

  9. Sharmini John Narayanan

    Dear Helen thank you for your insights. It was helpful. My name is Sharmini and I recently saw this prophet send through face book advertising a free prophesy. I wrote in and he did send me a personal prophesy that I am still going through. It was a long one but at the same time he request for a sum of money to be sown into his ministry. I have not done so but does it say we have to give money for the prophesy to come through.

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