A few years back, a person who functions in the prophetic told me how he moved into that ministry. A prophet was speaking at the church he attended and gave a prophetic word to the man stating he was called to the ministry of a prophet.
This senior prophet had also been invited to minister at another church in the same city, so he asked the young man to tag along.
He didn’t throw the young man into prophetic with the old sink or swim attitude. As the prophet ministered, he told the young man to sit, listen and try to discern a word for the people being prophesied over.
Later the prophet asked young man if he received words similar to what the prophet gave when he ministered to the people.
The young man said yes. This was the Holy Spirit training him to have confidence in the ministry God had given him.
I think the prophet Amos referred to this when he said: “The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:8 NASV)
When Amos prophesied he was simply repeating what he heard from God. But note the interesting phrase at the end “Who can but prophesy?”
When God speaks from the spiritual realm the prophets will often hear the same message. Some may give it, some may not. If the word is for a particular person, the other prophets ministering will often hear a similar word.
If God’s message has a broader perspective like a nation or the Christian body as a whole, a broader group of prophets will pick up it.
They will not have exactly the same wording, because it is filtered through their mind and emotions, but the message is the same. When you hear noted prophets from different regions of the country speaking a similar word, believers should take note.
A friend of mine ministers in presbytery. (This is when a group of prophets minister over people at a church.) When he started out, due to his nervousness, he allowed the other prophets to go first.
That quickly changed as he watched these prophets “stealing his word” and forcing him to come up with a different prophetic message. He now volunteers to go first, so those following are left in that predicament.
The school of the prophets
This mentoring process was standard practice in the Old Testament. We know that the prophet Elijah mentored Elisha (1 Kings 19:19-20). Some believe Elisha had a greater prophetic ministry than his mentor because of his double-portion anointing (2 Kings 2:9).
But there were also schools of the prophets. These were groups led by a senior prophet and consisted of people desiring training in the prophetic ministry and gifting.
The first group, led by the Prophet Samuel, displayed a characteristic common to these schools. Because of the presence of a senior prophet there is a spirit of prophecy over the group that makes it easy for everyone in attendance to prophecy:
20 Then Saul sent messengers to take David, but when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing and presiding over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul; and they also prophesied. (1 Samuel 19:20 NASV)
This may also have been what Amos was referring to when he said, “Who can but prophesy.” When King Saul encountered this school, we are told that Saul fell under this prophetic anointing and began to prophesy (1 Samuel 19:23-24).
Saul’s encounter became a bit of a proverb in Israel — “Is Saul also among the prophets?” (verse 24). As we understand Saul’s spiritual downfall, I think the proverb meant if Saul can prophesy, then anyone can prophesy in these settings.
But just because people could prophesy in these group sessions, it did not necessarily mean that everyone in this group was called to a be a prophet or even had the gift of prophecy.
The big test was if these people could still prophecy when they were away from the prophetic schools?
The second reference found in 2 Kings 2, tells the story of several schools of prophets associated with Elijah. These prophetic schools were certainly maturing as we see one school delivering a message to Elisha that Elijah would soon be taken away from him (verse 3). A similar word came out of a second prophetic company working out of the city of Jericho (verse 5).
Though these schools were under Elijah, other prophets had sufficiently developed and were apparently leading their own groups.
These were probably not the only groups. In 1 Kings 19:14-18, Elijah under attack from Jezebel had fled to the wilderness and hid in a cave. When he complained that he was the only prophet in Israel who had not bowed his knee to Baal, God said here were 7,000 others who had not.
This large number suggests there were probably dozens of prophetic schools scattered throughout Israel.
My wife and I have been involved with two prophetic schools in different cities where people learned how to prophesy. At the first school we were involved in, people would literally travel hundreds of miles to get practiced on.
The church we now attend also has a school of the prophets and they also practice prophesying and sometimes it’s not on people directly. One of things they have done in the past is write a person’s name (often famous) on a piece of paper and lay it face down on the chair.
They then have people give words about that person without knowing who it is. At the end, they then turn the paper over and let everyone judge for themselves if they hit the mark or not.
We have lots of thoughts that come into our mind, but the words that the Holy Spirit gives are a different shade and we need to separate those from our regular brain chatter. These practice sessions help do that.
It also reveals if we have a prophetic gifting or not.