Keep in mind that it is not honorable by worldly standards to be a prophet. Prophets speak God's mind to people who usually don’t want to hear it, so their presence is oftentimes not welcome. Prophets are not perfect, not without sin and, since they speak God's Spirit-based truth, they needn’t be particularly eloquent or intellectually savvy either. As with every other area of God's kingdom, He uses unexpected people to convey His spiritual realities.
Religious experts would like to think that prophets possess a super-spiritual glow while they make lots of dramatic gestures as in Michelangelo’s paintings. But that is much too impractical. Prophetic people, as well as anyone else God uses, are regular people, intended by God to fill a practical, spiritual purpose.
With Hill’s first album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, she communicated a variety of spiritual truth by a means that people could understand: Music. This is prophetic. One particular track, “To Zion,” illustrates a powerful parallel between her own potentially “inconvenient” pregnancy and the pregnancy of Mary with Jesus, which was certainly inconvenient. According to the song, this pregnancy could not have helped Hill’s career, but she kept the baby anyway and named him “Zion.” Zion embodies salvation and hope in the minds of Jewish people, who are God's people. Hill trusted God with her pregnancy and God worked out her circumstances for something greater than she previously imagined. Mary trusted God and He worked it out for the salvation of the whole world.
Other songs on Hill’s Miseducation album touch on godly themes as well, especially the last track, which quoted First Corinthians chapter 13 almost word for word.
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill sold millions and millions and won her like hundred Grammies (or at least more than anyone else had ever gotten at one time). In other words, whether or not people absorbed any spiritual truth, they certainly had ample opportunity. This is also prophetic. God oftentimes makes prophetic truth widely available, though discernable to only a few.
After this major success, at a time when people were expecting Hill to bask in the sunlight of her fame and fortune, she made an unexpected departure from the public arena. The same Truth she had been trying so hard to express led her to rethink a few things.
A few years later Hill made an appearance on MTV’s Unplugged, a show/recording session where artists come to play mostly acoustic versions of their songs. In this case Hill brought about two new CDs worth of songs, all the material God had been revealing to her for the last few years. The double-disc recording of the event (the same version that sold at least a million copies) offers both songs as well as her mid-song monologues, where she talks extensively about God. At the beginning of the performance she speaks in spiritual generalities until the end when she talks more blatantly about spiritual realities than I would have ever expected to hear on MTV. So, here again, Hill used the means she had available to her to convey spiritual truth.
Later Lauryn Hill recorded the track, “Selah,” which is the name of another of her children. The chorus of the song explains that “Selah” means “praise and meditation,” which sums up her relationship to God at that time. This is also prophetic. Throughout the Bible people name their children according to whatever God is doing or going to do, in particular the prophets (Hosea and Isaiah).
The word “Selah” is scattered throughout many of the biblical Psalms to separate one stanza, or stream of thought, from another. Interestingly, Hill’s song closely resembles both the structure and spirit of the Psalms. In this new Psalm she weaves truth, experience and revelation together into a God-honoring masterpiece. God orchestrated a convergence of life-development in just the right moment to bring this about. That particular song made its appearance through a major motion picture and its subsequent soundtrack. Again, Hill used her influence as a mainstream artist to convey spiritual truth.
Back in 2003, at the height of the Catholic church’s pedophile scandal/cover-up, Hill accepted an invitation to perform at the Vatican. After setting up on stage, she took the opportunity to publicly rebuke Catholic church-leaders for ruining people’s lives and then trying to cover up the fact. She called them out on their destructive behavior in front of thousands of stunned onlookers and then went on to finish her performance. It made sense to her to speak the truth. Meanwhile a more politically-minded Vatican spokesman dismissed her actions as “in bad taste.” She expressed plain truth to a group of stubborn religious leaders in a way they could not ignore. This is also prophetic.