We’ve all been there; having to wait so long for a prophetic word to come to fulfillment that we start to wonder if we, or even the prophet, heard it right. Many people have waited so long that they came to the conclusion that the prophetic ministry is cute, but practically of little value. Others have become skeptical and stopped believing in it all together, especially after bad experiences.
Why does it sometimes look as if so few prophetic words come to pass, while the Bible says we should strive for the gifts of the Spirit, especially that you may prophecy’ (1 Cor 14:1)? How do we handle these words and how do we test them? When we figure that out, we will see more prophecies being fulfilled.
‘Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.’ (1 Timothy 4: 14, 15).
Revelation demands our cooperation!
Because we can only remember fragments of what is prophesied over us when we receive a word, it is important to record it with a mobile phone and write it out later. God tells us to read what is written: ‘Then the LORD answered me: “Write down this vision and clearly inscribe it on tablets, so that a herald may run with it.” (Habakuk 2:2)
After we have received several prophecies and written hem down, we can start to look for similarities. In the Bible, when God wants to emphasize something, He repeats it. The same goes for a prophetic word. Also, writing the word down helps us understand that often a word can have several interpretations. It gives room for comparison and confirmation.
The prophetic ministry is being exercised by imperfect people: ‘For we know in part and we prophesy in part’ (1 Corinthians 13:9). This means we have to test the words we receive, and only that which stands during the testing process should be accepted. ‘Do not quench the Spirit, so not despise the prophecies, but test everything and hold on to what is good.’ (1 Thessalonians 15:19-21).
1. Determine what type of prophetic word you are dealing with
Are you dealing with ‘inspirational prophecy’ or ‘revelatory prophecy’? inspirational prophecy is encouraging, building and comforting (1 Cor 14:3). These don’t have to be thoroughly tested since they do not ask us to change direction or take action.
This is different when revelatory prophecy is concerned. These words give direction or correction. Also, they might reveal new areas the Lord is calling us to. Revelatory prophecy must be tested before we take any action.
2. Determine if the prophetic word is life giving
The end goal of prophecy should always be positive.
“Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.” (Jeremiah 1: 10)
Even though God allows negative things to be prophesied, the end goal will always be building and planting.
3. Discern the spirit behind the prophecy
‘Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.’ (1 John 4: 1-3)
We need the gift of discerning of spirits to determine what spirit is behind a prophetic word – the Holy Spirit, the human spirit or an evil spirit. The slave girl with the python spirit (Acts 16:16-18) prophesied 100% accurately, but the source of her words was an evil spirit.
One way to discern the spirit behind a prophecy is asking ourselves: ‘Does this word resonate with my spirit?’ If not, there is a good chance it wasn’t from God’s Spirit. It is wise to ask yourself this before you test the word for accuracy.
4. Determine if the word is manipulative or controlling
The true prophetic ministry sets people free to discover Gods will for their lives. Therefore, prophecy can never be used to suppress or manipulate someone’s free will, like in the example of a prophet telling a businessman that God will bless him if he gives the prophet shares in his company.
When testing a prophetic word, it is wise to consult spiritual advisors. Because things of the Spirit can only be understood spiritually, we don’t ask them ‘What do you think of this?’, but rather, ‘What is the Lord telling you about this?’. Prophetic words need to be discerned by the Spirit of God. Spiritual advisors can also help determine the timing for the word to be fulfilled. A good rule of thumb is ‘Don’t do anything different from what you are doing now, except if the Lord gives you specific instructions.’ Wait for God’s timing.
After a prophetic word was tested and approved, it is time to war for it.
‘Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, 19 holding on to faith and a good conscience… (1 Timothy 1: 18, 19).
Practically, this means that we must pray for the word, proclaim it and call it into being.
True prophetic words hold great power to those who mix them with faith. Lance Wallnau regularly tells the story of a certain politician in one of the Southern states in the US. He received a prophetic word that we would have a son and that the son would do great things for God in the American political arena. Then one day, during an election campaign this politician was holding, he was killed in a car accident. By the time his wife made it to the hospital, the doctor has already signed the death certificate.
Before she went, she had taken the prophetic word over their son with her. In the room where the body of her husband was lying, she started to proclaim this word out loud. The doctors thought she had lost her mind from sorrow. As they were about to forcefully remove her husband, she commanded his spirit to return to his body. He sneezed. The doctor said ‘now look what you’ve done! Your husbands’ brain has been without oxygen for more than an hour. He must have suffered brain damage and will be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.’ At that point, the husband sat up and asked, ‘Where is my son?’ This man is alive and well today and the prophecy was fulfilled.
God is giving the prophetic movement more authority. If we follow these steps, we will not only see more prophetic words come to pass, but we will walk in the reality of 2 Chronicles 20:20b, ‘Trust in the Lord your God and you shall stand. Trust in His prophets and your success is guaranteed.’