Not everything about the prophetic is foretelling, a vast measure is about what God is doing now, bringing explanation, comfort and understanding to present circumstances. Having a fresh set of eyes looking with clarity at difficult situations can be so useful.
Sometimes the encouragement that prophetic ministry brings is by pointing to issues that have already been raised by others. That can be frustrating to say the least, but there seems at times to be an added dimension of authority as those issues come under scrutiny.
I am not suggesting that every time that we have a problem making a decision or establishing what the Will of God is, that we should seek out the advice of prophetic ministry. This was a an acceptable mode of enquiry in Old Testament days but as John Piper says, the main way that guides us is through the scriptures,
"Nothing I say about today's prophecies means that they have authority over our lives like Scripture does. Whatever prophecies are given today do not add to Scripture. They are tested by Scripture. Scripture is closed and final; it is a foundation, not a building in process." (John Piper - The authority & nature of prophecy 1990)
Interestingly, following Piper's comment, scripture is very often the resource that prophets will bring to bear on a given situation – they already know that the answer very often, is the Bible. Sometimes people just need help seeing it.
Another aspect of prophetic ministry is interpreting such moments where God seems to be far off, or where things do not seem to be going well. One interpretation that may be the discernment of the prophetic person is that you need to see things in the light of scripture and not experience. Looking at things with a Biblical view-point, reminding one of Biblical truths and affirming what Scripture already says. This is particularly important when looking at issues of self-esteem – looking at who God is first, and then our place in Him.
Alternatively, another interpretation a prophetic person may bring may be that the struggling person may have got to a place of being like Samson who, not knowing that his strength was gone, got up to do things as before. Disaster was imminent.
Some people think that because the hand of God is not lifted immediately in their lives when they are living recklessly or without concern, that God must not be troubled by their behaviour. The favour of God sometimes takes a while before He finally removes it. Prophetic input at this point usually calls for repentance and also brings hope for the future.
Discernment in these areas is so crucial, and is a key reason that prayer is the main activity of the prophetic ministry. The question is always, 'what is God really saying'…