The Apostle Paul makes an incredible statement in the fourteenth chapter of his first letter to the Corinthian church: “For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and be encouraged” (v. 31). Wow. All really does means all.
So, how do we all prophesy when we come together? I’m sure there are hundreds of answers to this question but I’ll share four here.
However, before doing so it may be necessary to explain my use of the word “prophesy” in this post.
The word “prophesy” and it’s derivatives are used hundreds of times in the Bible. The “container” and the “content” of a prophecy in the Bible varies from use to use.
For instance, as far as a prophecy’s “container,” sometimes it’s sung, spoken, written and sometimes even acted out. Sometimes it’s straight prose and other times it’s in poetic form.
As far as “content” goes, sometimes it’s correction, prediction, direction, encouragement, comfort, praise and so on.
Regardless of its “container” or “content,” I believe all prophecy boils down to this: God-inspired communication.
Now on to the four ways we can all prophesy in worship.
1. Sing the Script.
To the extent that our worship songs are full of truth and our hearts are full of faith in those truths, we are prophesying when we sing them.
For instance, if we are singing the words “You are good, good ohhhhh” (John Mark McMillan’s “King of My Heart”) and we’re singing them from hearts that have experienced God’s goodness, it’s prophecy.
Jesus said, “No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27). According to Jesus, the only reason we can sing the truth of God’s goodness from hearts that know and believe in His goodness is because Jesus has revealed His goodness to us. Us singing that song is “God-inspired communication.”
Similarly, if we are declaring Jesus’ lordship through a song like “Great Are You Lord” (All Sons and Daughters) from hearts that believe He truly is Lord, we are prophesying. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 12:3 that “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.” In other words, we are incapable of declaring Jesus’ lordship from believing hearts without the Holy Spirit having first revealed this truth us. Thus, “God-inspired communication.”
May this reality spur us worship leaders and songwriters on to ensuring that the worship “scripts” we provide for God’s people are chock-full of God’s truth.
2. Go Off-Roading.
The next way we can prophesy in worship is by occasionally leaving the “beaten path” of the song we’re singing and do a little “off-roading.” As wonderful as worship songs are, I like to think of them as “conversation starters.”
Using our “King of My Heart” example, declaring generalities about God’s goodness is powerful but it’s even more powerful when, in addition to this, we move into a place of declaring specificities of ways we’ve seen His goodness.
We can do this by singing our own words, making declarations etc… The goal is simply to bring the Lord something out of the storehouse of our own hearts.
The book of Psalms is actually a collection of David’s (and it’s other contributors) “off-roading” adventures. Those songs came out of his own heart and in response to his own personal revelations of God. These “adventures” were recognized as prophecies by the apostles and as a matter of fact, no other Old Testament book is quoted more as prophecy in the New Testament. (Someone smarter than me calculated the following: Psalms has 79 quotations & 333 allusions in the NT. Isaiah comes in second with 66 quotations & 348 allusions).
As worship leaders, we can both model this as we lead as well as provide “space” (through vamps, instrumentals, silence…) during our worship times for worshipers to leave the beaten path.
The great thing about these first two ways is that you can do these regardless of what type of worship tradition or context you find yourself in.
3. Dare to Share.
One of my favorite things about small group worship is the opportunity to hear everyone. Prayers, spontaneous songs, scriptures, encouragements, declarations etc… can all be interjected at various times and everyone can hear them and be encouraged.
With a group of 100 or more and a full band with a sound system makes this a bit more difficult and requires a bit more coordination though it is possible.
Next time you are in a small group time of worship, or in a large group time of worship where there’s space for such contributions, and you experience revelations and responses bubbling up within your heart, express your heart to the Lord in a way that others can hear and agree and thus, be encouraged as well.
As worship leaders, we can create space and invite people to pray aloud or share at various times during worship.
“I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the congregation!” (David in Psalm 40:10)
4. Pray for Someone.
A fourth way we can prophesy during the worship portion of our gathering is to ask the Lord to show us someone we can pray for right then and there. Or, just go find someone. Depending on who it is, it might be necessary to ask permission or at least inform them of what you’re about to do.
Just begin by thanking God for them and praying whatever comes to mind. I find that when I take steps of faith like this the Lord meets me with specific Scriptures or “words” to share with them. It can be really quick it doesn’t have to be too long. I can almost guarantee that they’ll be encouraged.
I’m sure there are many other ways we can “all prophesy” in worship but these are a few for you to press into if you aren’t already doing so. Please share additional ways in the comments section if you have some!