I. THE BENEFITS OF PRACTICING TO PROPHESY
To practice to prophesy brings in many benefits. You have to treasure your speaking for the Lord, because the Lord treasures your speaking. You have to hate your silence. In Numbers 11:29 Moses desired that all the Lord’s people would be prophets. Then in 1 Corinthians 14:31 Paul said that we all could prophesy one by one. Surely both Moses and Paul would like to see church meetings on earth in which everyone speaks for the Lord.
Today, however, in our present situation, the speaking may be exhausted in less than one hour. The elders then have to consider what to do. When two hundred people meet together and their speaking is exhausted in less than one hour, is this not a shame to the Lord? Therefore, we must endeavor to prophesy one by one.
A. Promoting the Believers’ Interest
in the Lord’s Service
Practicing to prophesy promotes the believers’ interest in the Lord’s service (1 Cor. 14:1). Sometimes the saints are forced to speak by being asked to speak, yet this does not stir up the interest of the believers as much as when someone volunteers to speak. When you volunteer to speak, you will be stirred up to speak more. If you speak in a meeting, that meeting, to you, is in the third heaven. If you do not speak in the meeting, and another brother or sister asks you about the meeting, you may say that the meeting was poor. The reason you say that the meeting was poor is because you did not speak. But if you had spoken in the meeting, you would say that the meeting was in the third heaven.
Furthermore, if you would just say "Amen" three times in a meeting, that meeting would also be in the third heaven to you. If you would say "Amen" three times, at the beginning, middle, and end of the meeting, you would be stirred up. But if you attend the meeting and sit without saying "Amen," you will say that the meeting was poor. This shows that the practice of speaking and prophesying promotes the believers’ interest in the Lord’s service. It stirs up your interest, and it also stirs up others’ interest.
B. Developing the Believers’ Capacity
in the Divine Life
Practicing to prophesy also develops (cultivates) the believers’ capacity in the divine life (Eph. 4:16b). A boy may have many capacities by birth, but if he were restricted to lying on a bed, these capacities could not be cultivated. When we practice prophesying, our capacity in the divine life is cultivated, developed.
The first step in learning to prophesy is to be prepared. Each Lord’s Day morning, all of the saints should come together to practice to prophesy. You have to consider what you will prophesy. For each of the messages I have given in this series, I have prepared an outline. Sometimes I prepare the outline a week in advance. When I have some free time, I pick up the outline and read it. This is part of my preparation for speaking. Sometimes I read the outline for a message before going to bed, so that if I am awakened during the night and cannot get back to sleep, I can continue my preparation. As I am preparing to speak, I may discover that I need to use certain words, so I use a dictionary in order to find the proper usage of these words. All of this is my preparation for speaking. To labor to prophesy in this way is a real cultivation of our capacity in the divine life.
It is a tragedy that a number of Christians in the denominations do not even know how to pray. While I was in the Philippines in the 1950s, three brothers from among us went to a hospital to visit a sick person. This sick person had relatives who were in the denominations, and they were present when the three brothers arrived to visit. While visiting the sick person, the three brothers prayed for him in a prevailing way, full of freedom. After the brothers finished their prayer, the relatives from the denominations asked whether the brothers were preachers or pastors. The brothers replied that they were merchants. The relatives were surprised that merchants could pray so well, and they also admitted that they did not know how to pray. They said that if they needed prayer, they would call their pastor and ask him to pray. This is the poor situation of today’s Christianity. The capacity of the regenerated saints has been suppressed. There is little development, or cultivation, of their capacity in the divine life.
(The Practice of the Church Life according to the God-ordained Way, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)