Posted by: minnow | November 6, 2009

Prophetic Words

I used to love to hear a personal prophecy or word of knowledge whenever guest speakers came to visit our fellowship or hold a conference. I felt special–God was talking to me–WOW! And I don’t remember a single one that was an admonishment or set me up for a difficult task. A couple were a bit strange but that was okay because I felt special–God was talking to me–WOW!

When I started to get words for other people the feeling was a little different. Some of the words I got were borderline reprimands, some were for leadership. I was not about to tell one of my pastors that God wanted to give him a nose to sniff out the religious spirit in his life (especially when the teaching from the pulpit was to only speak words of encouragement) so I sort of left out the part about it being in his own life and hoped God would fill in the blank. Talk about handing someone a loaded gun and setting a congregation up for casualties. Not good and not God.

Both these illustrations reveal the danger in simply “practicing the prophetic”. When we tell our congregations that everyone can be prophetic and everyone should seek words from the Spirit, but at the same time do not teach them how to receive and give and receive both positive and corrective words, we neglect our responsibility to be teachers. Not only that but we set our fellow Christians up for failure, disappointment, and trips to Ego-ville on Pride-filled Lane.

In his book, Surprised by the Spirit, Jack Deere talked about the difference between “cold readings” and prophetic words. Everyone can get good at cold readings and when we know the people we are talking to personally our outside information has a tendency to find its way into our “words of knowledge”. Probably the number one reason fellowships that practice prophecy put the “only give words of encouragement” restriction on their congregations is because they have had too many lay psychologists running around trying to solve their friend’s problems by posing their own solutions as a word from God. They figured it was “safe” if they limited the well intended to only encouraging “words”.

The problem with “positive prophecies” is not that they are wrong. The actual “prophecy” is probably not even offensive, after all who wouldn’t want to see God smiling at them!? The problem is they eschew the spectrum until prophecy becomes nothing more than a “feel good” pop-psychology sessions in the name of God. In addition, being able to tell someone something nice probably doesn’t make the “prophet” feel too bad either (!) which is often more the point than the word itself. We like to feel good and we like to feel important. And, Satan likes it when we act like we have some big revelation from God that could just as easily be our own interpretation of a situation, wishful thinking, or worse–a distraction from how God really wants to minister. Saying nice things is easy compared to building relationship or doing the physical work of helping.

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