I'm interested in learning more about the relevance that the spiritual gifts have had for Christians over the course of history, with special emphasis on the gift of prophecy. For the apostle Paul, this was the most important gift, and it was his heart that every believer should earnestly desire the gifts of the Spirit, especially that they may prophesy:
Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. [1 Corinthians 14:1, ESV]
An immediate question that arises when one looks at this matter has to do with the meaning of this gift. What does it mean to have the gift of prophecy in the first place? What kinds of spiritual experiences or abilities can a person with the gift of prophecy have, in contrast to a person who doesn't have the gift?
My personal impression on this matter is that the gift of prophecy is quite a supernatural gift indeed, and I draw this conclusion through connecting multiple dots in Scripture:
- 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. [1 Corinthians 14:24-25, ESV]
- 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. [John 4:16-19, ESV]
- 39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” [John 4:39, ESV]
- 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. [2 Peter 1:21, ESV]
- 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. [Acts 19:6, ESV]
- 10 When they came to Gibeah, behold, a group of prophets met him, and the Spirit of God rushed upon him, and he prophesied among them. [1 Samuel 10:10, ESV]
Questions: Which Christian groups/denominations in the history of the Church have encouraged their members to earnestly desire the gift of prophecy? How common is it for contemporary Christians to pursue this gift? How has the gift of prophecy been understood by Christian groups/denominations that have endorsed its practice?