One question that I hear often is “How do I know if I am called to be a prophet?”

To be called to be a prophet is not for the faint of heart. We only have to look at the stories of the Old Testament to know that prophets in general did not have an easy life, unless they just told the king whatever he wanted to hear.

How then do you know if you’re called to be a prophet? God Himself will call you. Just like in the Old Testament the prophets were called directly by God at a particular time in their lives, you will know that God has called you. He will make it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt.

This could come in the form of a dream, vision, or encounter. He could speak to you directly. It could be a prophetic word that was spoken over you. It could come as the still small voice of God.

The inner call is only part of the call. There has to be affirmation by the community, including leadership. It is no good running around and declaring yourself to be a prophet when no one around you recognizes this call on your life. Often there is a period of preparation.

Eventually, there may be an outward commissioning or recognition. Usually, this means that leaders around you have witnessed specific words that you have given come to pass. There has to be some kind of track record that this person can be trusted.

The process between the inner call and the outward affirmation hardly looks the same for two people. Often times stories of conversion are likened to Paul and Timothy. Paul had an experience on the road to Damascus that changed him radically. Timothy received his Christian faith through the line of his grandmother. Both are valid. Both are different. Your process to become the prophet God has called you to be could look like Paul’s or Timothy’s. We don’t get to choose the process.

How do I know? That is at the heart of the question. Sometimes we have received the one part of the equation. That is, we know we have been called by God, but we are still in process of being shaped. We don’t have the outward affirmation by leaders and the community. This can lead to doubt and frustration. It is better to be patient and wait.

There is a cost involved in the process. This does not mean that we have to rude and insensitive to other people in bringing a “word from God” so that they reject us and the phrase “a prophet is not honored in his home town” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, it does mean that there may be painful seasons as God shapes and perhaps tests us. God does not mean to hurt us, but sometimes He needs to know what we are made of, and this may cause us pain, doubt and confusion along the way.

By Ralph Veenstra