Last week, I posted some predictions for the coming year. I do not consider this a trivial task, or a casual posting to pique the interest of the reader. Through the ages, to prophesy has meant conducting the act of revelation, giving an inspired message from god or the gods or a divine source. Usually a prophecy is associated with foretelling the future, but it can also include messages of inspiration or admonishment towards a particular people or even an individual.
Grammar plays an important role in determining the use of the term “to prophesy.” In its transitive form, the act of prophesying implies that the message originates from a deity (“The minister prophesied rewards for the faithful and punishment for the wicked.”). In its intransitive form, prophesying derives from the human speaker (“The minister prophesied possible futures in the Sunday morning sermon.”) In its intransitive form, therefore, anyone is capable of prophesying — to teach, to predict, or simply to make observations.
In this broader view, any oration in a religious venue can be viewed as an act of prophesying. Ordained clergy, who have generally received extensive instruction in religious matters and gone through a discernment process to prepare them for ordination, might be expected to regularly prophesy as part of the practice of homiletics (delivering sermons aimed at the spiritual needs, capacities and conditions of a congregation). When viewed as a profession, prophesying might be considered an act expected of ministers to offer insight, inspiration and instruction through preaching.
I don’t believe that I need to stand behind a podium in order to prophesy. And because I consider everything I do to be religious in nature, prophesying is any act of speaking or writing to make observations, to inspire or to teach others. This is my purpose in this blog, a purpose I will continue in the coming year. Consider that the last of my New Year’s predictions.