Many people equate “prophecy” with “fortune telling” or predicting the future. But the Biblical notion of prophecy contains much more than foretelling within its meaning. It does incorporate some aspects of seeing things in the distance, whether spatially or temporally, but the primary way that prophecy functioned in the Bible was to provide a word from God regarding the present situation in which God’s people found themselves. Prophets generally operated from the margins (those that didn’t tended to be “yes men” more than true prophets) and more than anything, a prophetic voice provided a critique of contemporary culture.
Both contemporary culture and the contemporary church need to look and listen to the prophetic voices around us. We need to be challenged and encouraged by perspectives that come from beyond the margins of the mainstream. Biblical prophecy provided encouragement to the broken and downtrodden and rebuke to the complacent and comfortable. At different times in our lives, we need the same. One of the ways that we can both hear and provide a prophetic voice for our brothers and sisters in Christ are through small discipleship groups. When 2 to 5 people gather for conversation, prayer, study of scripture, and real life reflection, bonds are formed and forms of bondage can be broken. When we learn to love and trust each other enough to be real, vulnerable, honest, and bold, the Holy Spirit molds and shapes us more and more into the image of Christ. We can provide that prophetic voice - that voice of challenge, conviction, and encouragement for one another. Not only is the body of Christ a priesthood of all believers, it can become a "prophethood" of the saints rather than merely a collection of "yes" men and women. May God give us the wisdom and the strength to both listen to and provide a prophetic word. - Shay