Prophetic worship is a trending activity within the Charismatic movement that combines spontaneous music, dance, and other art forms to present a “new” word from God. The word prophetic in this context means “hearing God in your heart and communicating what He says.” To prophesy is to speak (or sing) by “inspiration.” Sometimes the music and lyrics during a prophetic worship service are said to be “the song of the Lord,” because of the belief that the musicians and song leaders were “inspired” to speak God’s word—in the same way that the Old Testament prophets were.
There is an emphasis on spontaneity in prophetic worship. There are no programs to follow, no lyrics on the screen, and no rehearsals ahead of time. Words to the songs just “come” to the singer, as the Spirit supposedly directs him or her, and the musicians play along. Whatever the Spirit wants to sing is sung. Prophetic worship services often include other Charismatic elements such as tongues-speaking, ecstatic utterances, and claims of healing. There is much talk of “the spirit of Elijah,” “Jehoshaphat worship style,” “anointing,” and “soaking.”
Those who promote prophetic worship use several passages of Scripture (almost exclusively Old Testament) to support their practice. For example, the fact that Habakkuk included a song at the end of his prophecy shows a link between music and the “prophetic” (Habakkuk 3:1–19). And, since David was a prophet and a musician, and since he did a spontaneous dance “before the Lord” (2 Samuel 6:14), we should do the same. (Using this passage has an added benefit: anyone who criticizes the prophetic worship style is considered a “Michal,” verse 16.)
Is there anything wrong with spontaneity in worship? Absolutely not. Can the Holy Spirit use our artistic ability for the glory of God? Yes, He can, and He does. Is music an important tool in the communication of God’s Word? Yes, and Spirit-filled believers will be characterized by song (Ephesians 5:18–19).
However, prophetic worship goes beyond simply praising God with its claim that God is still giving “new” revelation to His people today. In prophetic worship, glossolalia, a “small inner voice,” and whatever lyrics being sung at the moment are all equated with the Holy Scriptures. And therein lies the danger. To place anything on par with Scripture is to diminish God’s Word and open the door to deception. For anyone to claim the role of prophet or apostle, on par with Elijah or Paul, is to invite God’s resistance of the proud (James 4:6) and bring confusion to the church. Prophetic worship may offer opportunities for musical creativity, but it is not “inspired” in the sense that the Bible is, and it does not provide any new revelation from God.