“Pursue love, yet desire earnestly
spiritual gifts, but especially that
you may prophesy”
(1 Corinthians 14:1)

To help bring Christians into a
place of maturity, God has set
within the Church the ministry of
the New Testament prophet with
special anointing and authority.
Through the manifestation of the
Holy Spirit, He has also established
the gift of prophecy to communicate in the local church.
In the early New Testament church there were no Bibles. The revelation of Jesus Christ was still fresh. Prophets were used to communicate doctrinal truth which had not yet been written down for the masses. And as He inhabits the praises and prayer times of His people, He releases the spirit of prophecy to give testimony to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in the earth today!
The Bible provides us with general guidelines to help us properly respond to personal prophecy.

1. Does the word line up with Scripture?
Someone may say to you, "I've had a vision about your life," or "The Lord has given me this great word for you." God does lead super-naturally. But whenever you are considering any form of special guidance, you need to test it against the God's Word. The apostle Paul gave the litmus test for prophets in his first letter to the Thessalonians: “Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21). The Holy Spirit cannot contradict the written Word of God since He is the One who inspired the Bible.
It is the Word of God that will protect us against false doctrine, deception, and spiritual manipulation. If the prophecy contradicts the Scriptures, you can obviously ignore it.

2. Is the prophecy given in love and grace, or in anger and judgment?
Prophecy in the New Testament flows from the Spirit of Christ, a spirit of grace and love. The majority of personal prophecy should be given as edification, exhortation, and comfort (1 Corinthians 14:3). Prophecy should not be divisive against the local church or the local shepherd.

3. What is the character of the person giving the word?

The personal character of a prophet is a key guide for determining whether someone is a true or false prophet.

• Do they exhibit the mature fruit of a loving, grace-filled ministry?
• Do they speak the truth in love, in a balanced, scriptural manner?
• Do they display a right attitude and heavenly wisdom in every relationship?
• Is their life biblically in order, with the right priorities (God first, spouse and family second, and then ministry)?
• Are they righteous, ethical, honest, and full of integrity, or are they manipulative or deceptive?
• Are they unselfish, polite, kind, and discreet?
• Do they have a love of money, or the proper perspective of stewardship in their finances?
• Are they virtuous and sexually pure?
• Do they display the right attitudes, thoughts, and actions in all situations?
• Is their motive to be seen or to serve?

“Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” (1 Corinthians 14:29-33).

In verse 32 of 1 Corinthians 14 we read that the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. The prophet does not go into a trance and speak mysteriously.
In Paul’s discourse on spiritual gifts and order within the general assembly, the context is within the local church and for the brethren. It would be suspect that a prophet go around outside the general assembly and prophesy to individuals—especially if the motive is to exalt him/herself.

4. Is there some sort of personal religious bias in the message of the person giving the word?
Sometimes a person will bring a doctrinal or personal message into a prophecy which can twist a true prophecy. Is the prophecy a boilerplate statement heard of the prophet given to others or one you’ve heard other prophets give? If so, I’d be wary.

5. Do I sense a witness from the Holy Spirit?
When the Lord is speaking to us, no matter what method He chooses, our born-again spirits recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd. Jesus made it clear in John 10 that His sheep know His voice, and the voice of a stranger they will not follow. If a personal prophecy is not of God, the born-again Christian will get what is known as a "check" in their spirit - an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of the stomach telling them that something is not right.
6. Don't reject a directional word, but test it.
If the word is something new that you have never heard before, it may be a directional word from the Lord, but don't act on it right away. Test it like you would any other guidance from the Lord. Let the Redeemed understand that personal prophecy is only one method of God's guidance, and it alone should not be leaned on in making major decisions in our life. However, it can be an important way that God guides the New Testament believer, and it should not be overlooked in seeking God's direction for our lives.