LEARNING TO PROPHESY
First Corinthians 14:1 says, "Pursue love, and desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophesy." The wording of this verse is very emphatic, stressing the matter of prophesying. This is indicated by the phrase "but rather that you may prophesy." Here the word rather means especially. Paul encouraged the saints to pursue love and to earnestly desire spiritual gifts, but he especially encouraged them to prophesy. The stress here is altogether on the matter of prophesying.
First Corinthians 14:31 says, "For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all be encouraged." The words learn and be encouraged are placed together in this verse to show that learning leads to encouragement. In order to prophesy we must first learn ourselves. "That all may learn" refers to the hearers. Since the hearers should learn what the speaker says, the speaker also must learn a great deal. Prophesying requires much learning. When we have learned something, we are able to prophesy. Then through our prophesying, others will learn from us.
To prophesy according to 1 Corinthians 14:31 is not something which comes down upon a person suddenly in a meeting. That kind of experience does not require any learning. Prophesying requires learning. In order to help the saints to learn how to prophesy, we published the books entitled The Holy Word for Morning Revival. In these books only a few verses are given for each day, and we encourage the saints to digest these verses through reading and pray-reading them again and again. We have provided some space within these books for writing down the inspiration one receives each morning. After six mornings, one may have six inspirations. Then these six inspirations can be used to compose a prophecy to speak in the church meeting on the Lord’s Day. This is a very good way to learn to prophesy.
Today in the churches, we are still learning how to prophesy. One thing which I practice to enrich my prophesying is to read diligently. My riches come from my diligent reading. Throughout the past sixty-six years, I have been diligently reading the Bible and the best writings concerning the Bible. The notes in the Recovery Version and the Life-study messages can help us to enter into the divine revelation in the holy Word. Learning to prophesy requires our labor on the Word with the help of the proper exposition that opens up the Word.
(Elders' Training, Book 11: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (3), Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)