Having been in prophetic ministry for over a decade, this is a topic I am passionate about. One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that as charismatics we share many words from God; however, we give very little context for what to DO with those words.
Some believers – often ones new to the gifts of the Spirit, but even some who aren’t – end up hurt (and even angry at God) because they got a “word” that didn’t come to pass, or they tried to make happen, etc. Most of the time, they didn’t know how to properly receive a prophetic word. Without that context, they were ripe for getting hurt, which can often lead to people feeling like God let them down (even falling away), instead of realizing their leaders have simply failed to teach them vital information.
With that said, I want to share a portion of a post that originated on my personal blog (How-To Receive a Prophetic Word). Hopefully this will be helpful for you, even if it’s just in articulating things you already know. These are things that we should keep fresh in our mind and filter words accordingly.
Context for Receiving a Word
First thing to remember is that NO ONE hears perfectly (1 Corinthians 13:9). Understanding this forces us to remember that we need to extend grace to others to have mis-heard just as we need to extend grace to ourselves when we mis-hear.
I find often people look for other people to give them prophetic words because they doubt their own ability to hear Him accurately but don’t doubt their ability to hear another person. We’ve spent too much time developing our natural senses and not enough time developing our spiritual senses. Spend time interacting with God and develop your spiritual senses so you can hear more certainly for yourself. This will be far more beneficial in the long run than any number of prophetic words.
In my experience, the more time you spend with the Lord the more refined your hearing becomes (hearing the voice of God), so make sure you are spending time turning down all the noise of life and pressing in to Him.
Another good thing to remember is you will never need to MAKE a word of the Lord happen. If it’s the Lord, it WILL happen. So never feel like you need to “help” God along – when we do, we tend to make Ishmaels. Wait on the Lord. Wait.
I have also discovered that God likes to tell us things about ourself first, and then He has others confirm and sometimes expand what He is saying. If you get something that is way out in left field and doesn’t relate to anything God’s been saying – you can pray over it, but ultimately if it doesn’t resonate, just put it on the shelf. If it’s God, He’ll bring it back up.
Journal what God tells you and the words your receive (I journal mine in a blog format so that I can do searches later to find things more easily – there are ways you can have passworded blogs so they are private). Keeping a journal over time is a great way to see God’s faithfulness play out. You have a responsibility to see and remember what God has done – this is one of the best ways I’ve found of accomplishing that.
Quick Reference List
Below is a helpful list that my husband and I used to distribute to people coming to the Prophetic Ministry at church. We tweaked the list that was originally compiled by Lisa Anne Winter, a friend and someone who God has gifted to teach and train people in the prophetic. (To see an example of this list in action, see our post Receiving a Prophetic Word: An Example.)
- Immediately write out the word if it was not recorded and consider transcribing if it was recorded. In doing so often the Lord will reveal more of what He’s saying to you.
- Seek the Lord about the word. Meditate on what was said. Pray and ask for greater revelation.
- Review the word with a spiritual authority in your life that knows you well and can pray with you and give insight.
- Do not move on any word without confirmation and counsel
- Prove every word with Biblical principles and a witness of the Holy Spirit
- Make note if the word is edifying, encouraging, and/or exhorting. If it is not, it may not be a word from the Lord.
- Make note if the word is comforting and brings confirmation to things that God has already been speaking to you.
- Note what fruit the word bears. Fruit of the Spirit, peace, comfort, or if it brings confusion. (Don’t be hesitant to ask the giver of the word for clarification.)
- If the word does not seem to fit or bear witness with you then “shelf it” until a later date. If it is the Lord it will prove so in time.
- Remember that no man sees or hears God’s voice perfectly. Every word we get must be weighed.
- Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21
- …earnestly desire to prophesy… 1 Corinthians 14:39
- …the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 1 Corinthians 14:3
- Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 1 Corinthians 14:1
In all these matters, bring them before the Lord. Seek His face – not the face of man. Enjoy your journey with Him. Remember that the journey itself is part of the blessing, not just the destination points