Last weekend we had the privilege of hosting Pastor Jonathan Wilkins at Sun City Church. It’s been so great getting to know him over the years and coming to realize that one of his spiritual gifts to the body of Christ is the gift of prophecy. What I especially appreciate about Jon Jon is that he’s not a freaky deaky prophet if you know what I mean. His ministry style is grounded in reality. He’s a normal guy that loves his wife, kids, and the Warriors. He loves Jesus and can move in the supernatural in a very natural way that appeals to people that are in different places in their walk with Christ.
During our Vision Night, Jonathan ministered to several of our leaders with his gift and I thought it would be helpful to lay out some pastoral thoughts about what to do after you receive a prophetic word. Whether you are receiving a word from a friend, an established minister or a stranger you have never met, here’s some action steps to take to help you stay on target for what God wants for your life.
1. Be encouraged by it
1 Corinthians 14:3 – But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them.
Prophecy is primarily given to encourage you in your journey with God. Receive it that way! It’s not a time to get stressed or frantic. A prophetic word is a confirmation of Psalm 139:71-18. God’s thoughts towards you are beyond number…and he decided to let you in on a few of them.
God is thinking about you a lot. And sometimes He’ll use another one of his kids to let you know some of the things he’s thinking and has in store. If you receive a prophetic word that feels judgmental, controlling or manipulative, I’d encourage you to shake it off and put it in the freaky deaky category. This doesn’t mean that you’ll never receive a challenging word, but a prophecy is meant to build you up not make you feel bad or guilty.
2. Replay it
The best case scenario is getting a recording of what’s been spoken. If this isn’t possible, quickly try to write down everything you can remember and ask others if they recall any specifics about what has been spoken. Often times prophetic ministry draws up so many emotions that it can be difficult to keep your mind on track with what God is actually trying to say. I’m a huge fan of listening to a word again after things calm down emotionally.
3. Hold it up to scripture
One thing you need to understand about a prophetic word is that it’s God speaking to you…but speaking to you through an imperfect person. Many people that deliver prophetic words are learning to hear from God and are in all kinds of stages of developing their gift. And even the most seasoned ministers get it wrong. This isn’t a reason to just give up on the ministry of prophecy. It simply highlights the importance of running all prophetic words through the filter of the Word of God.
If a prophetic word has directions or themes that run contrary to scripture, the Bible always wins. The prophetic can be wrong…the Bible isn’t. So think through what’s been spoken and ask questions like “Does the Bible support this idea?” If a prophetic word was a district court, the Bible would be the Supreme Court. It’s ruling trumps anything said at the lower level.
On a practical note, the only way to do this is to know your Bible. It’s hard to answer the “Is it biblical?” Question unless you have a pretty good handle on the Bible’s themes and teachings. If you need help getting acquainted with the Bible, I did a post on my personal time with God in the mornings that talks about my personal bible reading plan.
4. Connect with your pastor on it
I know…this is coming from a pastor. But I’ve practiced this long before I was a pastor. And it’s been so helpful. You need to understand the authority structure in the church starts with the pastors and elders in a local congregation, not a traveling prophetic voice or someone that felt they’ve heard from God for you.
Your pastoral leadership should be familiar with the details of your life and be helping you walk towards God’s plan and calling. And while the prophet has a window of insight into some of the things God has in store for you, your pastor should know a lot more of the practical details of what’s actually going on in your life and the current state of your character.
Normally when I’m listening to someone in my congregation receive a prophetic word, my mind is filling up with things that I would like to say to them. Often times, there are things I’ve been wanting to bring up with a person but I’ve been waiting for the right timing and the prophetic word is a perfect platform for conversations that God wants to take place. You can use a prophetic word as a way to build a deeper relationship with your pastor. I know there may be some fears about his response or resistance to the word. But a true shepherd will love you and want God’s best for your life which is what the prophetic word was likely about.
5. Take it to prayer
1 Timothy 1:18 – This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare…
The prophetic word is often a window into the things that God wants to bring about and not part of your current reality. And the road to that preferred reality is prayer. God is showing you some of the things that He’d like for you but one of your responsibilities is to pray those things into existence. I’d encourage you to develop a system of revisiting key prophetic words in your life and praying through them with God.
6. Be open-minded and open-handed about its fulfillment
One of the things that can cause disillusionment with the prophetic is when someone forms a picture of exactly how this is all going to play out. Our idea of the journey to prophetic fulfillment is just so different from the journey that God knows we will need to take. Think about Joseph’s road to the fulfillment of his dreams. Think of David’s journey towards the palace and the fulfillment of Samuel’s prophetic word over his life. I don’t think these heroes of faith had every step in the journey figured out.
I get a little nervous when I hear people pridefully declaring that they “know what that word means.” The Bible makes it clear that we know in part and prophesy in part. We don’t have it all figured out. So I’d recommend receiving the encouragement and taking the word seriously…but also staying humble and open to all the different ways that God might choose to fulfill His promises.
7. Focus on your part of it
Every prophetic word has 2 different types of content within it. There are the things that God says He will do. Then there are the things that God is asking you to do. It’s really important to distinguish between these 2 categories. People tend to focus on what God said He will do. This might be the part of the word that gives you goose bumps. But when a prophetic word doesn’t come to pass, often times it’s because people didn’t do their part in walking in their prophetic destiny.
Think through what God said he will do and take those things to prayer. But focus on what God wants you to do. Make an action plan for how you are going to live differently or adopt new habits based on what God is speaking to you. God’s going to be faithful to His end…I’m the one I need to worry about.
One other note –
Often times I hear of people that leave a prophetic meeting disappointed that they didn’t get picked out to receive a word. I can so identify with this! In my early days being around this stuff it just seemed like it was never me. I started telling my friends that I must be called to martyrdom as God must have no real big plans for my life. If you are feeling like you missed out here’s my thoughts for you:
- Rejoice in what your brothers and sisters are receiving. They are a part of the body and cannot be blessed without you receiving from it. Think of the way we teach our kids to celebrate others when it’s not their birthday. We have to learn to be happy that God is blessing others, instead of being jealous or envious.
- Keep showing up to prayer times, special gatherings and mountain top events. God will keep showing up in powerful ways. I’ve noticed that God fills the hungry with good things. Don’t let “not getting picked” get you down…just let it drive you to be hungry for His word.
- Most importantly, you don’t need a prophecy to hear from God. You’ve got the Holy Spirit and the Bible! He can and will speak to your heart individually and this is a greater thrill than receiving a word from another person. Whenever I leave a meeting feeling like I missed out on receiving a word, I just decide to go home and get my own straight from heaven. Jamie wrote a great post that is very helpful on How to Hear the Voice of God.
Hope this helps! If you have questions or comments on the prophetic feel free to reach out.