The gift of prophecy is one of the most exciting spiritual gifts. Also, it is one of the most misunderstood.
I remember one of the first times I received a prophetic word. Emotionally, it felt like an overwhelming and celebratory experience. The only problem was that I didn't remember any of what was spoken over me.
I was so excited, praising God and praying while the prophecy was being released, that I missed 90% of the content of the prophetic message! This was a novice blunder that would teach me an easy lesson – LISTEN when God is speaking!
Other times I have received prophetic words and they seemed to bring more questions, uncertainty, and confusion to my life than answers. Years later, after having received hundreds of prophetic words and given thousands of prophetic words globally, God has taught me a lot about stewarding prophetic words.
I felt compelled to share some practical keys and spiritual insights to help those individuals who have unfulfilled prophetic words over their lives or words that have left a question mark in their minds.
One must first understand that prophecy, on the individual level, operates a bit differently than Biblical prophecy. Prophetic words found in the books of the Bible are concrete and absolute. They pertain to the plans and purposes of God for the Body of Christ and humanity. The fulfillment of these prophetic promises does not rest in the hands or actions of one individual or group of individuals.
Individual prophecies, or rather personal prophecies, are conditional – meaning they are subject to requirements or conditions being met before they can be fulfilled.
I have met individuals who have received prophetic words and complained that the person who gave them the word was inaccurate or that God did not keep His promises. Oftentimes these individuals received these prophetic words and took no action to partner with the prophetic word to see it come to pass in their lives. Figuratively, they lay back on their hammocks with their arms crossed and wait for the prophecies to come to pass with no application of faith or obedience on their part. They dismiss the conditionality of personal prophecy.
Seek God for Clarity
Have you ever received a prophetic word and didn't understand exactly what God was trying to say to you? I'm sure many of us have had a similar experience. Don't throw away these prophetic words. Put them in your proverbial “prayer box” and seek God for clarity. Prayer will help to fill in the blanks of what God is really trying to communicate.
God spoke to the prophet Samuel (Samuel 16:1), “…I have provided Me a king…” Samuel heard the prophecy correctly, but it was interpreted through his own soulish filter. In his mind, a king should have a certain stately and noble appearance, impressive to the eyes of the beholders.
Samuel received clarity by keeping his heart open to God. 1 Samuel 16:6-7, “And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, ‘Surely the Lord's anointed is before Him.' But the Lord said unto Samuel, ‘Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.'”
Samuel made the right choice by staying internally prayerful and allowing his heart to be tuned to the voice of God. The spiritual clarity he received resulted in David being anointed and later appointed as king of Israel. When we receive personal prophecy or prophetic instructions, it is important to ask for further clarity about what we have already received from God. Prophecy may give direction but we must ask God for details and specifics.
Seek God for Wisdom
The proper stewardship of a personal prophecy not only involves seeking God for clarity, but also for wisdom. Wisdom involves the proper usage of knowledge or the clarity that you have received from God. Joseph is a prime example of a prophetic dreamer who could have exercised more wisdom before sharing some of his revelations.
Genesis 37:5, “Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more.”
Joseph may have prematurely shared his revelation with his siblings who were not spiritually mature. It may have caused unnecessary backlash. Nevertheless, God caused it to work together for the mutual good of all parties involved.
Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”
Every prophetic promise requires an appropriate response. The wisdom of God helps us to respond properly to personal prophecy.
Some words may require you to take action. Other prophetic words may require that you rest in God and trust that He will bring the word to pass. Taking action could actually be counterproductive to God's divine providence in the matter. Other prophetic words may require that you make amends with people from the past or walk in a greater level of humility, faith, or love. Ask God for the appropriate wisdom as it relates to your personal prophetic promises.
Geography Plays a Part
Some prophetic words are geographically related. For instance, God's promise to settle, prosper, and multiply the children of Israel was directly related to them being planted in the Promise Land. The children of Israel wandered throughout the Arabian Peninsula and the land of Canaan for many years.
Many times we read where the people of Israel questioned the provision and prophetic promises of God. Prophetic promises began to be fulfilled in succession once they were successfully planted in the Promised Land. Also, the conditionality of prophetic fulfillment was revealed.
Numbers 14:8, “If the LORD delights in us, He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey.”
One great man of God, John G. Lake, received a prophetic word that God was going to use him greatly and powerfully to share the Gospel. God could have very well blessed and used him greatly in his hometown in Canada, but his prophetic manifestation was predestined for another territory. God used John G. Lake moderately in ministry in the USA.
When he obeyed God and relocated to South Africa, his ministry began to explode. Over a 5-year period his apostolic ministry efforts led to the salvation of thousands of souls and the establishment of several hundred churches. It was deemed as the most successful Pentecostal effort in southern Africa's history. Had John G. Lake remained in the USA, undoubtedly his prophetic promise would have remained unfulfilled.
The Timing of God
The prophet Daniel is noted for the ability he had to interpret visions, dreams and understand divine revelations. Daniel understood the importance of seeking God for the timing of prophetic fulfillment.
Daniel 9:2, “In the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”
While seeking God concerning an unfulfilled promise to free the children of Israel from bondage from Babylon, Daniel reads Jeremiah's prior prophecy of emancipation after seventy years.
Jeremiah 25: 11-12, “And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.”
Daniel read the prophecy of Jeremiah that had a two-fold implication. Firstly, the children of Israel would be freed from bondage. Secondly, the nation of Babylon would be judged for their iniquities. The Israelites would have felt that God had neglected them and forgot His promises to them. Daniel comes to understand that the prophecy had a time stamp on it – seventy years.
Oftentimes our own personal prophecies being unfulfilled can make us feel discouraged or that God has forgotten us. The truth is, many prophecies have a time stamp on them! Our job is to walk with God daily and grow in the knowledge of Him until He brings His words over our lives to pass.
Many prophecies come to pass when you least expect them to do so because they are in God's perfect timing!
Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your great love. I repent if I have doubted Your voice or Word. I thank You for every prophetic promise that has been released into my life – whether by dream, vision, or prophecy. Please grant me wisdom and clarity to understand the things that You have already revealed to me and the things that You are revealing to me.
Father, help me to not miss the pieces of my own prophetic puzzle. I ask that the Holy Spirit would give me both strength and patience to walk with perseverance and endurance until I see every promise that You have made me come to pass in my life.
In the midst of waiting upon Heaven's perfect timing in my life, draw me closer to You and Your heart. In Jesus name I pray. Amen!