The second basic constituent of a prophecy is the personal experience of life. We must have the experience of life personally. Knowledge by itself is empty; our knowledge should be filled with our experience.
In the Christian life there are two categories of experience. The first is the personal experiences of the Lord’s doings and blessings in physical things and environmental occurrences. In the Lord’s Day morning meeting, many of the testimonies given are related to this category of experiences. Many saints experience the Lord’s merciful doings and the Lord’s blessings to them in physical or material things. These merciful doings and blessings, however, are not grace. Grace is not something in the physical realm. Grace is the Triune God Himself embodied in Christ and given to us as life for our enjoyment.
We need to have the second category of experiences, which are the personal experiences of God’s redemption and salvation, Christ and the church, preaching the gospel, nourishing the new believers (feeding the lambs) in the home meetings, perfecting the saints in the group meetings, prophesying for the building up of the church, and other experiences, by the exercising of our spirit in faith. We should have many testimonies concerning this category of experiences, the experiences in life. Even the healing of our physical body is something in the physical realm. It is better to hear a testimony of a brother who was in spiritual deadness for many years but got revived in the holy Word, became bubbling, and went out to visit people to get them saved. Such a brother may testify that before he was revived, he could not help others to be living, but since he has been revived, everyone he contacts is revived also. This is a prophecy according to the personal experience of life.
In speaking forth a proper prophecy, we should not adhere to personal experiences, testimonies, feelings, thoughts, opinions, affections, and reactions to any persons, matters, and things. When we prophesy, we should reject our personal feelings, thoughts, opinions, and even affections. We should also stay away from our reactions to our spouse, our neighbors, the elders, and the brothers and sisters. To prophesy, in principle, is not to speak for oneself, not to speak forth oneself, and even the more, not to dispense oneself into people. Often we may dispense ourselves to people in our speaking in order to impress them with our experiences and affections. This kind of speaking is not to speak the Lord but to speak ourselves, and it is not related to Christ but to ourselves. This is not to prophesy but to promote ourselves.
To prophesy is mainly to speak for God and Christ, to speak forth God and Christ, and to dispense God and Christ into people for people’s nourishment and supply. Sometimes we may use our experiences to illustrate what we are speaking. In actuality, to prophesy is to release some spiritual vision as a revelation and some spiritual enlightenment as a light to shine over others, either to bring certain things of God to light, that is, to make certain things known to people, or to bring people into the enlightenment of God. These are the main principles that govern our prophesying. We should do our best to speak for God and Christ, and the less we speak of ourselves, the better.
The basic constituents of a prophecy constitute a very high standard for our prophesying. This is why there is almost no Christian group today that practices prophesying according to 1 Corinthians 14. However, if we cannot practice prophesying, it is a shame. We are the New Testament believers in God’s New Testament economy. Elizabeth, Mary, and Zechariah were saints in the final part of the Old Testament age, yet they prophesied in a marvelous way. Their prophecies in Luke 1:42-45, 46-55, and 68-79 had all the proper constituents of a prophecy. In the prophecies of the saints in the Psalms, also, we can see the proper constituents.
To prophesy with the basic constituents of a prophecy is difficult. However, we should do our best to speak. The messages released through this ministry are printed in publications and recorded on tapes. I believe that all these messages will remain and that one day Christians will practice what we are speaking here. Before the 1960s people laughed at the idea of landing men on the moon. However, by means of their manpower, time, knowledge, technology, money, and patience, the Americans landed on the moon in 1969. In the same way, we too must have patience and do our best. Eventually, we will come up to the standard of prophesying with the basic constituents as revealed in the holy Word.
(The Practice of Prophesying, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)