What To Do When You Think You've Received a Prophetic Word

Monday, September 30, 2013

I'm back in the saddle on the blog here...with a new convergence of business and ministry and a renewed passion like never before for the kingdom in the marketplace.  My first post in over a year is on a simple question I'm asked frequently enough to write something about it:  "What should I do when I think I'm getting a prophetic word from the Holy Spirit?"  In short, here's my basic answer I give:

1. Thank God that He's sovereignly decided to talk to you.  

This is an exciting reminder of one of the promises of the New Covenant.  Use the moment to bask in gratitude for God's awesome gifts.

2.  Assume it's for you personally.  

God wants to communicate with you in a personal and deep way.  He wants to talk to you, to reveal things to you, and to encourage you along your journey.  Therefore, always assume first that if He's given you a prophetic word, it is for you personally.
  • You need understanding, first of all, in order to determine whether or not the prophetic word is for you.
  • You need understanding, second of all, in order to determine whether or not it the prophetic word is for someone else
3. Pray for understanding.  

God wants to be understood.  That's why He reveals Himself.  Therefore, if He's given you a prophetic word, He probably wants you to understand it.

4. Ask three important questions.
  • Is the prophetic word right?  That is, is it accurate?  It may be that you've mixed up some things, causing the word to be unclear and consequently misunderstood.  Understanding is required to make sure you are in fact hearing from God.  And that understanding is based on the concrete, objective Word of God, the measuring rod for anything else that is subjective.
  • Am I the right person to share this prophetic word?  God may simply be confirming it so that when someone else shares something similar, you can pray into it as the person shares it, or perhaps even speak confirmingly after the other person shares.  Or, perhaps there is someone present who would be better to share the word.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit is simply revealing or blessing several people in a group, and as one in tune with the Spirit you are simply receiving a revelation of an overall sense of what God is saying or wanting to do.  In such cases, don't assume that you are the one to share.  I will often survey who is there in a group and if there is someone more gifted prophetically or perhaps better in tune with what's going on is there, I'll just let them talk. There are other scenarios, and others could share more as well.  But the important thing is to remember that there is no method.  That's why you must walk in the Spirit and listen to Him.
  • Is this the right time to share the prophetic word?  Just because the Spirit reveals something to you doesn't necessarily mean that NOW is the right time to share it.  This is extremely important because timing is very important.  There is a time and season for everything under heaven...including the sharing of a prophetic word.  When in doubt, share it with someone you trust, someone in leadership, or someone prophetically mature and get their advice or wisdom. In my experience, God sometimes wants me to hold on to it and He almost always shows me the right time and place to share it so that it has the impact He desires the most.

As a former cessationist, I believe that prophecy for the NT church is real, and it's for today.  The Bible is too clear and church history is too loud to say otherwise.  But with 2,000 years separating us from the NT church, it's difficult to experience the outworkings of prophecy in a way that every agrees on.  The above are simply helpful explanations I've both learned and gleaned from experience and wiser men and women.  Walking in the Spirit, being patient, and asking a thousand questions from leaders I trust has been the most profitable pathway ahead in a theological and practical area filled with problems and abuses.  However, I've learned one important lesson along the way: when God wants to talk He makes Himself clear, regardless of the flaws and abuses of well-meaning followers of Jesus.

About the Author: Rob is a follower of Jesus at Jubilee Church, where he works as an entrepreneur and operations contractor in Woodstock, GA. From there he envisions and pursues missional-shaped business for the kingdom. He and his wife Sherri have been married for 19 years and together have three sons and a daughter. Rob believes the mission of the gospel is summed up in four simple phrases: know God, obey Jesus, make disciples, and plant churches. This is the pursuit of his life, as well as the point of his blog.

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