Also, can a person put a time frame on a prophecy? If they do, and the time passes, is the prophecy null and void after that?
And also, is there a more of a proper way of giving a word than another? And does the Lord tell you who to give the word to, when He gives this word?
Thanks for your honest and healthy questions!
Romans 12:4-6 says, "...All the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one Body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith."
The key phrase here is "in proportion to our faith," as it relates to your questions. The spirit of prophecy and prophesying occurs in people in many different ways. It is a verbal gift from God. It can be spoken and/or written, as God’s scribes.
Sometimes it "bubbles up" inside a person. Sometimes the Spirit overshadows someone and they feel compelled to proclaim. (But the Bible also says that the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet which means they can control their actions and are responsible for them, be it in obedience that may invite persecution or error that can invite the same, for different reasons.) Prophets will also see visions and/or have dreams.
Sometimes there is a "fire shut up in our bones" which means there are convictions in someone beyond their natural motivations. Usually this type of "fire" would indicate an office calling (rather than the gift of prophesying) because it is a life cause, rather than a word for a season. If it is an office calling, that also can be received in a number of ways--usually in a direct understood call from God (in other words, they heard it from God) or a gift so evident and consistent that everyone agrees the person is motivated prophetically in God.
A person with the gift of prophesying usually has a word of edification, comfort and exhortation--I Cor. 14:3 "But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men." And usually what they prophesy are appropriate Scripture words that apply positively to a situation.
Often people who are intercessors and are “banging on the door of God” (ask, seek and knock and keep on) will get key words from God. They labor over these words, imploring Him for His will to be done. God rewards their faithfulness with these words but that does not mean they are prophets. These words are usually confirmation words. They can be used for guidance, but as confirmation to what is already in one's spirit man, bearing witness with the Spirit and truth of God. All true prophets are intercessors but not all intercessors are prophets. Many are prophetic intercessors.
A true called prophet will often do less prophesying than one who has the gift of prophesying. If someone prophesies frequently, it is probably the "gift of prophesying" at work, more than an office call. Because of the heavy price one must pay for the office call, many are reluctant to announce to the world that they are prophets. If one is called as a prophet, they can never get out of that call--it is a lifetime assignment and ministry gift. The gift of prophet is just as valid as the gift (or call) of pastor, teacher and evangelist.
The evidence of the prophet office is wisdom primarily. The words they speak have insight into Spiritual things that will "turn the corner" on a situation and will edify. Often they are calling for repentance back to the will of God and to His ethics and Word (and not to the will of man and what might be his project). But true discernment can only come by the Spirit. Since God's Word is Living Word, knowing the Bible will keep you well on track.
Some prophets are very accurate in their foretelling. This was a sign in the Old Testament that the words they spoke were from God. Prophets today foretell and forthtell. When they forthtell they set forth the standard of God, and people can see in the Spirit where they need to line up.
Today we have the Bible and the five fold ministry. Today, we have the Holy Spirit who dwells within the born again believer. Today Christ in us is the hope of glory. That is the difference between Old Testament prophets and New Testament prophets. Today God speaks to us by His Son within us. There is the office call and gift, but it bears witness!
When someone gives you a word, it should first of all line up with the Bible. If someone says to you, you are going to do such and such, or by a certain date this will happen, and especially if it is not a good thing, you have every right to bring in the good Word of God on the subject and battle against that thing if it does not line up.
You do not have to receive a word that diminishes your walk with God. There are many things in life that God gives us choice about. No one can make you give money or force you into marriage (legally)--these are common things people get snared by. God may confirm these things, but He will not overpower your will on these things.
Last of all, you need to know that prophets are not perfect. If they have the gift or the call, the power of the gift will be evident for the benefit of the Body (and not just an isolated group). For there is not one person that Jesus did not go to the cross to die for and pay a bloody humiliating death.
Many are deceived by the prophet's words or their own thoughts when they equate the prophet with perfection, making the prophet an idol or diviner. This is an abomination to God and His Word says that He will allow the men who do this to be deceived. God wants us to look to Him individually first in respect to His established Biblical order. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, but also order.
It has become a common consensus among many that when one gives a word, that they say "I believe that the Lord is saying..." and then give the word. It covers them in case they are not 100% correct. But understanding how it works, is even better.
If someone sets a time limit, then it is null and void if it does not come to pass. Sometimes people are discerning or sensing general ideas and set dates on it. Unless overwhelmingly compelled by the Spirit of the Lord, it is much better not to set dates.
The burden of the prophecy is on the prophesier. If someone says someone is going to be healed or something else is going to happen, that burden is on the prophesier, not on the person to whom it was told. It is wrong and incorrect to place the burden and blame on the one prophesied to. The burden is on the prophet.
A prophecy is a burden of the will of the Lord. This can be directed individually to a person or a group, and should be presented as an offering (or a gift) to that person--not forced. Then it can be received as a gift with great thanksgiving to God.
Prophets are going to make mistakes as they are growing up into their ministries. But the same grace covers them as it would for any other minister. To whom much is given, much is required, but God will give wisdom to those who ask for it and He will also forgive those who ask for forgiveness, as they seek His good will for their lives and for the lives of others.
And, anyone is a prophet who speaks the Word of God to someone who does not have it, because a prophet is a go-between, or an intercessor, between God and man.
The Lord's blessing be abundantly upon you,