What is prophecy and how does the Bible define it?
Here is how the Bible defines prophecy:
1 Corinthians 14:3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. NKJV
Prophecy is the result of a person being a yielded vessel to the Holy Spirit and allowing the Spirit to speak through him or her.
Revelation 19:10b Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. NKJV
Prophecy is always the testimony of Jesus. That means that it is Jesus, the Lord of the Church, speaking by the Spirit of God through a human vessel.
Even though God never misses it, as a human vessel we can miss it, and that is why we are also admonished to judge prophecy and not simply accept anything that someone says in the name of the Lord as a true prophecy. But all prophecy MUST be judged in light of the truth of God's Word.
1 Corinthians 14:29-33
29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. NKJV
Anyone can prophesy if they have faith and the Lord would choose to use this gift through them. And even if a person does prophesy that does not mean they stand in the office of a prophet.
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: 2 You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. 4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. NKJV
The office of the prophet is a ministry calling by the Lord Jesus alone. No one can appoint himself or herself to this or any other ministry office. And if a person were called as a prophet there would be distinctive fruit and signs in their ministry and lives.
The Lord would also provide them a platform and any other tools necessary to fulfill their calling. In almost every case, the prophecies that come through a true, anointed prophet will be much more authoritative in nature and they will always lead others to Jesus the Christ.
A true prophet will also operate in the gift of the word of wisdom, word of knowledge and discerning of spirits, as well as, tongues and interpretation of tongues and, of course, the gift of prophecy. These are the supernatural gifts and equipping for that office. God can use anyone at any time in the body of Christ in any of these gifts but in the life of a true prophet these gifts would work on a regular basis and on a much higher level, dimension, authority and clarity.
Here is the Bible's test of a true prophet:
But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.' 21 And if you say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' — 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of [reverence] him. NKJV