I’ve slowly been reading through Women of Mormondom. A great book written back in 1877 containing vignettes about early women of the Restoration. I was drawn to a description given of these early sisters in the gospel.
“Let us view them purely as prophetic women,
who undertook to found their half of a new Christian empire.” (emphasis mine)
Many people restrict their definition of a prophet to a man whom God authorizes to reveal His will and lead His people. With this definition we as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are lead by a prophet of God. Our prophet holds all the priesthood keys and is authorized to direct the affairs of His people here upon the earth.
|Treasure the Word (Huldah) by Elspeth Young|
In a more general sense the term “prophet or prophetess” is anyone who possesses the gift of prophecy, one of the gifts of the spirit. (see 1 Corinthians 12; Moroni 10; Doctrine & Covenants 46) What is the gift of prophecy? The apostle John taught ” . . . for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10). In modern times Joseph Smith taught, “John the Revelator says that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Now if any man has the testimony of Jesus, has he not the spirit of prophecy? And if he has the spirit of prophecy, I ask, is he not a prophet?” (Chapter 33: The Spiritual Gifts of Healing, Tongues, Prophecy, and Discerning of Spirits,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2007))
A prophet or prophetess is one who is endowed with the spiritual knowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Armed with that knowledge they then bear that witness to all who will listen.
|Eliza R. Snow|
This spiritual gift is not limited to men alone. It is available to all of God’s children. Moses wanted this gift of prophecy for all of the Israelite people, “would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!” (Numbers 11:29) The prophet Joel said, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.” (Joel 2:28-29) This was repeated by Peter in the New Testament. (Acts 2:17–18.) And Alma, in the Book of Mormon, taught “And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned.” (Alma 32:23)
Women are sensitive. They have an inherent spiritual quality of searching for and seeking after the truth. President Gordon B. Hinckley, in speaking to the women of the church, stated,
“Yours may be the spirit of prophecy. . .Can anyone doubt that many women have a special intuitive sense, even a prescient understanding of things to come? As much so as any man in the world, each of you has the opportunity and the responsibility to develop a testimony of Jesus as the Savior of mankind. That testimony is the “spirit of prophecy.” It is a gift that may be yours.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Ten Gifts from the Lord”, Ensign, Nov. 1985)
|The Substance of Hope (Anna) by Elspeth Young|
Along with the gift of prophecy comes revelation. The rest of the Joseph Smith quote from above says,
“Now if any man has the testimony of Jesus, has he not the spirit of prophecy? And if he has the spirit of prophecy, I ask, is he not a prophet? And if a prophet, will he not receive revelation? And any man that does not receive revelation for himself must be damned, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. For Christ says, ask and you shall receive; and if he happens to receive anything, I ask, will it not be a revelation? And if any man has not the testimony of Jesus or the spirit of God, he is none of his, namely Christ’s.” (Chapter 33: The Spiritual Gifts of Healing, Tongues, Prophecy, and Discerning of Spirits,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2007))
|Zina D.H. Young|
We cannot bear testimony of Jesus Christ without first receiving a personal witness, or revelation for ourselves, that He is the Christ. This revelation comes through the Spirit. Sister Julie B. Beck taught that “The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life.” Receiving revelation for ourselves also bears with it a certain responsibility, for we commit ourselves to follow through with whatever course of action the Lord directs us to take.
As women we have the right to seek for the gift of prophecy, to receive revelation for ourselves and our families. We must cultivate that gift so we can be like our sisters of old, like Miriam and Deborah, like Huldah and Anna, like Emma and Eliza, Lucy and Zina.
We can be prophetic women.