How do you know you’re called to be a prophet? Find out through 17 signs.
I’ll cut straight to the chase. This post answers a simple but important question: “How do I know I’m called to be a prophet?”
Inside, you’ll discover no less than 17 signs (yes, 17!) to reveal if you are called to be a prophet.
And at the end, I’ll give you a special invitation to learn more.
UPDATE:this list became waaaaay too big for one article, so I decided to split it up.So I cheated and decided to add the rest in here, after all!
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, it’s important to understand a couple of things:
God calls his sons and daughters to all kinds of people, places and ministries.
God’s church is represented in scripture as the body of Christ and there’s a reason for that. We are all built differently and each of us is unique, forming the separate parts of His body.
That means that each of us has a unique set of gifts, including the gifts of the spirit. Even those who have similar prophetic gifts will express them in different ways.
So, while I’ve tried to make the list of signs below as exhaustive as possible, not all of them will be applicable to you, even if you have been called to be a prophet.
As you read them through, work out which signs apply to you and which don’t.
If the majority of them resonate with you then you may have a calling on your life. But please don’t treat it as a tick-list exercise: God has the final say!
I often say that not everyone is called to be a prophet and not everyone has a prophetic gift.
In the same way, just because you have a prophetic gifting doesn’t mean that you are called to be a prophet.
The key is to ask God what his opinion is, particularly as you read through the rest of this article.
If you get to the end and realise that you aren’t called to be a prophet then you don’t have to be disappointed. That’s actually good news because you can ask the Lord what he has called you to!
Every prophet is called into 3 specific relationships. (3 different aspects of prophetic ministry).
If you are called, then you are called to be a prophet:
As I already mentioned, you may not recognise some of the signs below as being for you.
However, I would expect that those who are called to be prophets to express at least one sign from each of these 3 key relationships.
All Christians are called into relationship with God. He is the originator and prime motivator of all our hopes and desires. The Bible describes Jesus as “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
But God has a special relationship with his prophets. Let’s explore that now.
The Lord places special demands on his prophets.
Reading through the biblical narrative we can see that God sets his prophets apart for himself in a way not reserved for others.
Just like the priests of old, the prophet is called to minister to God first and to the people, second.
As a result, prophets have a very close relationship with their heavenly Father and a deep desire for more of him.
Jesus, who was himself described as a prophet by those who met him, also spent long hours alone with his Father.
This often happened prior to important events in his ministry. The calling of his disciples and the garden of Gethsemane are good examples.
In Matthew 26 we get an extraordinary window onto Jesus’ thoughts and emotions as he approached his final mission on the cross.
The prophets of the old covenant also experienced moments of tremendous intimacy with God.
In the case of Ezekiel, he was so overwhelmed by his encounter with God’s throne that he was rendered exhausted and mute for days afterwards.
In the same way, modern-day prophets may experience particularly intimate moments with their God.
Some prophets received an injection of power from God at the inauguration of their ministry.
We can again look to Jesus for an example:
When Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit came down “like a dove” and anointed him for his mission (Luke 3:22).
Immediately following this important event, we see the outworking of that anointing.
First, Jesus heads out into the desert and is tempted by the devil, successfully passing the test.
In the very next scene, we see Jesus speaking boldly in the synagogue. He announces his intentions for his ministry, directly from scripture. And he identifies himself explicitly as the fulfilment of the prophecy.
Bill Johnson describes a time where he was praying and Holy Spirit descended on him in power. For over an hour, he was unable to move but could only feel the pulsing of Holy Spirit power throughout his body.
Although Bill may not see himself as a prophet, he has certainly had a visionary ministry, reaching out from Bethel church in California to build up churches across the world.
God told both Jeremiah and Isaiah specifically that he had called them to the office of prophet.
Isaiah saw a vision of God’s throne in heaven and a flaming creature with 6 wings touched his lips with a burning coal.
The Lord asked who would speak for him and Isaiah responded. So God told him to “go and give the people this message” (Isaiah 6:9, GNT) and began to detail what would happen in the future.
Jeremiah’s call was even more explicit:
The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
He tried to excuse himself, saying that he was too young and didn’t know how to speak. But the Lord said not to be afraid and touched his mouth also.
If you are called to be a prophet, you too may receive a direct revelation from God about it.
It may not be as dramatic as the examples here, but it will be clear what he wants you to do.
Prophets sometimes have to do strange things for God with very little explanation.
Ezekiel was told to lie on his side for many days and to build a model of Jerusalem and lay siege to it in front of his people.
Whether he fully understood what the Lord wanted beforehand is unclear, but he chose to exercise his faith and do what he was told.
If you are called to be a prophet, you may sometimes find God asking you to do or say things you don’t understand, at first.
In such situations, obedience becomes really important!
God trains his prophets to be obedient and to trust him. Full understanding may come later if that is the Lord’s will.
Jesus showed us how important obedience is when he said that he only did what he saw his Father doing.
Jesus gave them this answer: "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (John 5:19)
For the prophet, the outworking of this is that you’ll always want to be obedient to God and do what he asks in everything.
That also means that you always want the Lord’s opinion on things, even if people around you say something different.
Although we don't have a “relationship” with ourselves, as such, we can cultivate positive attitudes and God’s presence in our lives.
As we seek to please God, we may begin to demonstrate telltale signs through our character that he has placed a prophetic calling on us.
Prophets often have a strong sense of justice.
They hate to see people suffering, particularly the vulnerable who cannot defend themselves.
This may lead them to speak out about unjust situations, but it may also give them a tendency to become judgmental.
If you have a strong sense of justice like that, then it may be a “mark of the prophet”, but you’ll need to guard your heart against that judgmental tendency.
Make sure you balance the desire for justice with a deep understanding of God’s love for the world. Part of that comes from understanding the Bible but part of that also comes as you are filled (and re-filled) with Holy Spirit.
One of my heroes is Dr Martin Luther King Jr, who I believe was a modern-day prophet.
Aside from the visionary and uplifting nature of his famous speeches, what comes across to me is his desire to bring true freedom to his people.
In the midst of terrible injustices suffered by ethnic groups in the USA, his was a voice that stood out and was not afraid to rock the boat.
And yet, he also had the courage to call for love and reconciliation, not hate and violence.
As he said:
“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”
If we revisit the visions of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, we see clear pictures of heaven in each one.
God sometimes does this as part of his calling, in order to impress upon the prophet the true reality of who he is.
He may also give such visions to those prophets who are called to be seers. Seers can literally see into heaven. They may also see things in the spirit that others can’t see.
A couple of years ago, I met a lady who regularly saw visions of God’s “war room”.
She would see Jesus and the Father at a table covered in maps and plans. They were surrounded by angels who were sent on assignments to help the saints.
She didn’t really know how to respond to these visions, other than to ask God to explain them to her.
I suggested that they may be a sign that she is called to be a prophet. Looking back, I would say that if she is called, then she is almost certainly a seer.
Some people get dreams instead of waking visions.
A good friend of mine receives dreams from the Lord regularly. They tend to be detailed and occasionally complex.
The key that distinguishes dreams from God is that there is a clarity to them not found in a normal dream.
More importantly, dreams take time to interpret and fully understand.
We sometimes talk through his latest dreams and I help him to unpick the events and symbols portrayed in them.
As we have spent time together he has begun to realise that God has a calling on his life as a prophet.
If you get dreams from God on a regular basis, ask him if you are called too.
Prophets are on a journey in the significant.
The church may talk about “signs and wonders” and prophets often appreciate signs.
Sometimes, this can be a handicap, in that prophetic people can see significance in everything - even when it isn’t God speaking!
However, the positive side to this is that prophets may understand the times through signs in the world around them.
Prophets may see those signs as biblical symbols in everyday life and certain “coincidences” that happen on the way to work. Or they may identify specific stories in the news which reveal what God is about to do.
I love birds of prey and the Lord sometimes speaks to me by sending Red Kites over our house.
This is a reminder for me that God the Father is represented in scripture as an Eagle. The Eagle flies very high and has a view of the world that is so much greater than mine!
This may sound like a coincidence but sometimes this has happened at exactly the moment I needed the reminder.
If you see such signs regularly then you might be called as a prophet.
Prophets don’t just want to “preach it”, they want to live it too!
They set a high bar for themselves in terms of holiness and righteous living.
They have to be careful not to turn this into a judgmental attitude when it comes to others. But they can also end up in times of deep repentance, on their knees before the Lord.
Prophets usually take the command to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) very seriously.
Prophets also want to go deeper. Deeper into God and deeper into his gifts.
They want to get more and more detail from God in the prophetic. And they often want more of the gifts of the Spirit, so they can become more effective in their calling.
They may follow other prophets (online or off) and attend prophecy schools. They will actively put themselves into places where they can hear about and practice the prophetic.
If you don't feel that motivation, then I would seriously question whether you have a prophetic calling on your life.
Not only are prophets called to be in relationship with God, they are also called into relationship with others.
In the same way that God has a special relationship with his prophets, prophets may relate to people differently than others.
Prophets are expected to represent God to others and may petition the Lord on other people’s behalf.
They are often held to a higher standard (just as church leaders are), but by the same token may sometimes feel lonely.
This leads on to some additional signs that you may be called to be a prophet.
Prophecy isn’t a one off event.
And having a gift from Holy Spirit is for the benefit of others, not just yourself.
This implies you’ll be sharing that gift in an ongoing, continuous basis. This continual use of the gift is where it becomes a ministry.
In public prayer meetings, the prophet may be be the first to share a prophecy rather than simply ask God to intervene in a situation.
But they won’t just do this once and forget about it. They’ll continue to do so, as often as possible.
If you’re called to be a prophet, you’ll love praying for people and will most likely long to prophesy whenever you get the opportunity.
I mentioned above about prophets sharing prophecies in public meetings, but you may also pray prophetically.
In other words, a prayer of petition or intercession becomes prophetic in itself. It may also move a prayer from asking God for something to declaring God’s plans and intentions over the situation.
This type of prayer commonly resonates with those around, perhaps generating a loud “amen” from those assembled!
Some prophecy predicts what will happen in the future or proclaims what God is going to do next.
The true prophet will see these events come to pass. It becomes really exciting when you see your prophecies actually happening in the world around you.
You might discover a true prophecy through reading an article in a newspaper. Equally, someone else may tell you that the word you gave them the other week came true since.
Either way, the mark of the prophet is that what they say from heaven consistently becomes earthly reality.
Being called to be a prophet isn’t glamorous. It can be a hard graft and prophets may be misunderstood.
Sometimes it’s exciting as you share prophecies with others, but at others, it can be very lonely. You may sometimes feel that people don’t understand you.
Isaiah is a case in point. When God called Isaiah to the office of prophet he said:
“Go and tell this people,
‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
Isaiah may have been shocked at what he heard next. When he asked “how long, O Lord?” the Lord answered, “until the cities lie in ruins …and the land is left desolate and ravaged”.
The implication here is not only for the people of Israel, but also for Isaiah himself. He will face many years prophesying to a people who will not even listen to his message!
Thankfully, most prophets don’t have to face that kind of opposition, but it’s a stark warning we should be aware of.
Even if you’re called to be a prophet to those who eagerly accept your message, you may still experience such times of loneliness.
It's a common issue today (more common that you might think), so know what you’re getting into.
Since prophecy involves sharing God’s words, prophets can occasionally be perceived as arrogant or over-insistent.
Prophets may desire recognition in their gift and can find it difficult when others don’t listen to what they have to say.
Recognition for your calling may only come later, once you are established in your ministry.
However, that recognition comes first from God himself and from people after that.
That doesn’t mean that we should completely ignore what other people say about our ministry and calling. There is great wisdom in the body of Christ.
It simply means that we must weigh everything that we hear and ensure that we are not deluding ourselves into believing we have a particular ministry, when we don’t.
Lastly, you may receive a prophetic word from another prophet to say that you are called likewise.
This is where God enables one prophet to recognise another.
Receiving a prophecy like this can be very encouraging, particularly if it is given through a well established prophet with their own ministry.
Getting recognised in this way can set you up to grow in the gift for years to come.
Prophets are called into relationship with God, themselves and others. And each of these relationships may include signs of that calling.
But don't just take my word for it. Make sure that you pray it through fully with the Lord and don't take any one of these signs as the "gospel truth".
Test your calling rigorously because God (and others) will anyway!
For now, if you are called to be a prophet then you will be motivated to learn more about prophecy.
If you’re not yet ready to join up then I have something else for you today: a free short course to start with before you invest in yourself and your gifting.
All you need to do to take part is to enter your name and email address on this page.
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