Cultivating The Prophetic
“Dad, will I be able to shoot fire out of my hands?” I couldn’t help but grin as I responded to my nine-year-old son, “Sure, you never know. Nothing is impossible with God.” My son asked me that question as we made our way to the car after an incredible evening of prophetic ministry with Charlie Sweet. Earlier Pastor Charlie had called him out and prophesied over him in front of the whole congregation. Needless to say, my son felt pretty special and was brimming with questions. Here are a few of my favorites….
“Dad, Charlie said I was like Joseph. Does that mean that mom is going to have eleven more boys?” He was joking of course (I love his sense of humor!).
“Does that word mean that I’ll be a prophet and won’t be able to play soccer or be in a band?”
“Will I be like Moses and split the red sea?”
Like my son, I’m sure there are many questions raised by the events of the weekend. Even if you didn’t receive a personal prophetic word, there were some pretty incredible words spoken over our church. And since we are the church, the words apply to everyone at Southgate. Here are a few quick thoughts on the prophetic.
1. What if the prophet gets it wrong?
In all of my years in the church I have yet to meet a prophet who is 100% accurate all the time. Does this mean that we should disregard prophesy all together? Absolutely not! When a prophet is active in their gifting you will often hear them talking about God giving them a sense or a picture of what He is saying. Sometimes that sense or glimpse is incomplete and we must have discernment to sift through what is being said and pick out the nuggets of truth.
In the book of Acts there’s an example of a prophetic word by Paul not coming to pass the way it was expressed. In Acts 27 when Paul was being taken by ship to Rome as a prisoner, he warned his captors that if they continued to sail, the ship and much of the cargo would be lost and that many on board would die. As it happened they sailed anyway and a terrible storm came up prompting all on board to loose hope. But Paul received further revelation that none on board would die and his prophecy came to pass. Since Paul’s first “perception” contradicted his second, does that make Paul a false prophet? No, his first sense was correct, a storm did come and it would have killed many but God was gracious and completed the picture by saving those on board.
Sometimes a prophetic word may be incomplete. Sometimes the word should be put on the shelve as it is way before it’s time and may be fulfilled much later on and sometimes it’s just off. In NLT translation 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “ Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.“
On this side of heaven we only catch a glimpse of what we will see perfectly in eternity. So how do we test the accuracy of a prophetic word?
First and foremost, does the word line up with scripture? Does it resonate with what you have felt God speaking to you about in your life at that time? Does it answer pressing questions that you have been asking God? Finally, is it confirmed by people around you who know you and can attest to what is being said?
These are just a few of the questions you can ask but ultimately a prophetic word must be received by faith, which leads me to…
2. What is my part in responding to the prophetic?
In order for a prophetic word to become a reality it must partner with faith.
Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
One of my favorite definitions of faith is that faith is agreeing with God. In other words, faith is activated by first receiving the word of God and then responding to it with action. Just because someone prophesies an accurate word over you there is no guarantee it will come to pass. You must activate it with faith.
For example, say you received a prophetic word where the prophet said they see you stepping onto foreign soil and preaching the gospel in a different language. What if you received that word and spent the rest of your life believing it but you never updated your passport and never bought a plane ticket? Do you think God is going to supernaturally transport you to where he wants you to go?
Now obviously He certainly could but I’ve found that more often than not, God is looking for people who will partner with him in faith. Or, to put it another way, God is looking for people who will orient their lives in the direction He is pointing them. I’m not saying you should make it happen but I am saying that you should put yourself in positions where God can fulfill the word.
If the word said you would bring healing, practice praying for the sick. If the word said you would feed the hungry, get involved in feeding the hungry. If it said you would see miracles, start praying and believing for creative miracles. You never know the level of influence God will bring you and the passion that will grow as you respond to His call by faith. Who knows, you may even split the Red Sea some day!