5 RIGHT WAYS TO RESPOND TO PROPHECY
This is the fourth and last post in our PROPHECY SERIES. By God’s grace, we’ve covered the following topics so far in this series:
Do read these posts if you haven’t done so to get the best out of the series.
Today’s topic examines what we should do when we receive a prophecy. Some people disregard every prophecy claiming the so-called prophets are fake and confusing themselves. Some other folks swallow every prophecy they come across. What really is the proper way to react to prophecy? What are the things we should do when we receive one? These are the questions answered in this post by God’s grace.
Do read, comment and share to benefit others. May the Lord enable you to hear His voice constantly and use what He tells you appropriately. You are splendidly blessed in Jesus’ name.
5 Right Ways To Respond To Prophecy
1. Do not despise prophecy:
That false prophecies are rife doesn’t mean true prophecies don’t exist. Don’t treat every prophecy with contempt. And I might add that many prophecies sound ridiculous at first. They seem so out of touch with reality but that doesn’t mean they are not from God and that they won’t happen.
In 2 Kings, chapter 7, it is reported that one day during a long siege and harrowing famine in Israel, Elisha prophesied that there will be plenty the following day and an army commander said it couldn’t happen.
“1. Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria. 2. Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.” – 2 Kings 7:1-2
If you read further down that chapter, you’ll see that it happened as the prophet said but the man who mocked was trampled at the gate where he was posted to take charge.
So we may not know at face value if a prophecy should be ignored or not. That brings us to the next step.
2. Judge (evaluate) the prophecy:
See if it agrees with Scripture and with the witness of the Holy Spirit within you. The Bible is the revealed word of God. It shows us the character of God and the things He said to His people of old. It is the yardstick by which we must judge every prophecy. If the prophecy violates the word of God, then it is not from God for God and His word are one. Anything contrary is probably from a strange spirit and the Spirit of God that dwells in your heart will be at odds with it.
“I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” – Psalm 138:2
“When the people instead of trusting God say to you, ‘Consult the mediums who try to talk to the dead and the soothsayers who chirp and whisper and mutter,’ should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? Direct those people to the law and to the testimony! If their teachings are not in accord with this word, it is because they have no dawn.” – Isaiah 8:19-20 (AMP)
As you’re assessing the prophecy, do the same for the prophet if you can.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” – 1 John 4:1-3
This is necessary because the enemy can speak words that seem right, even quote scripture, to deceive people or obstruct God’s purpose. We saw that when he tempted the Lord Jesus. Bear in mind that the devil isn’t going to announce himself and say, “Hello, I’m the devil. I’m about to tempt you!”The enemy can speak words that seem right to deceive people or obstruct God's purpose. Click To Tweet
5. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him “on a pinnacle of the temple, 6. And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9. And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” – Matthew 4:5-10
The enemy can speak a little truth as bait to draw in unsuspecting folks and then go for their jugular.
“12. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. 13. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” – 2 Corinthians 11:12-15
This is probably why Paul rebuked the girl with a spirit of divination in Acts 16 although she seemed to be saying the right thing about him and his missionary colleagues.
“16. And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17. The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. – Acts 16:16-18
You will recall if you’ve followed so far that the last post in this series looked at how we can tell true prophecy from false and it explained what to look for both in the words and the speaker.
3. Pray over the prophecy:
Cancel negative prophecies (ask for God’s mercy to avert them), but affirm positive prophecies (ask for God to bring them to pass). Do not reveal prophecies carelessly if they concern intimate matters.
When God told David through Nathan the prophet that he would build him a dynasty, David went into a long prayer concerning it, part of which is captured below.
“23. Therefore now, Lord, let the thing that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant and concerning his house be established for ever, and do as thou hast said. 24. Let it even be established, that thy name may be magnified for ever, saying, The Lord of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel: and let the house of David thy servant be established before thee” – 1 Chronicles 17:23-24.
When God sent Jonah the prophet to pronounce judgment on the city of Nineveh, the people prayed and God annulled the judgment.
“4. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. 5. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. 6. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: 8. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. 9. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? 10. And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” – Jonah 3:4-10Be sure your prayer to affirm or cancel a prophecy is as led by the Holy Spirit. Click To Tweet
Continue to speak the prophecy back to God over time if it’s desirable and not for immediate effect. Declare it even when you’re not in prayer. Declare the cancellation of negative prophecies likewise.
We need to insert a caveat at this point on praying against ‘undesirable’ prophecies. A word may sound negative and our first impulse may be to say, “God forbid!” but we need to confirm what God is saying and pray in that wise. Paul the apostle received a negative prophecy from Agabus and others about his planned trip to Jerusalem but he didn’t pray against it or change his plans. He knew that his calling was to suffer for the name of the Lord Jesus and thus spread the gospel far unto the Gentiles. So he didn’t shrink from the negative prophecy (Acts 21:10-15). Sometimes in running away from unpleasant stuff the Lord brings our way to strengthen and make us more fruitful, we complicate our lives and dry up spiritually. Here’s a better point to say, “God forbid!” if you ask me.
We should also be careful who we share our prophecies with. If God tells you something wonderful about your life and you broadcast it prematurely, you may attract avoidable envy and attacks as Joseph did in Genesis 37. Just praying without undue announcement is wisdom.
Furthermore, if we receive negative prophecy about brethren, we should pray against it, not use it against them. Our duty is to help them pray against every evil foretold against them, not avoid and ostracise them on that account, especially when they are faithfully following the Lord.
This is very important for those who conduct deliverance prayers. If a believer comes from an idolatrous background, the powers of their father’s house will be witnessing evil against them because they have renounced those powers to serve the living God. We need to stand with them and tell the devil that only the counsel of God will be performed in their lives, not abandon them because of the evil reports received from the spirit realm. The powers of darkness don’t give up easily but we have overcome them because He that is in us is greater than they (1 John 4:4).
Everyone who has surrendered his or her life to Christ is a new creature with all the rights of heavenly citizenship (2 Corinthians 5:17. None should be treated like second class citizens because of the powers speaking against them. The power of the Lord supersedes all.Don't discriminate against faithful believers on the basis of prophecies or revelations. Click To Tweet
“13. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 19. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20. built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” – Ephesians 2:13, 19, 20.
“10. But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. 11. Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.” – Jeremiah 10:10 & 11
4. Take practical steps (if needed) towards the fulfillment of the prophecy or averting it as applicable:
“8. The king of Aram was at war with Israel. He had a council meeting with his officers and said, ‘I will set up my camp in this place.’ 9. Elisha, the man of God, sent a message to the king of Israel, saying, ‘Be careful! Don’t pass that place, because the Arameans are going down there!’ 10. The king of Israel checked the place about which Elisha had warned him. Elisha warned him several times, so the king protected himself there.” (NCV)
If the King of Israel passed those places as usual, he would have fallen to the ambush laid by the Syrians but, alerted by the word of the prophet, he arrived fortified to the dismay of his enemies.
Some people make the mistake of stopping at prayer when they receive a prophecy without making the necessary moves to actualise it. If God says you will be going abroad, you should apply for an international passport if you don’t have one and for a visa to the country he’s sending you to (at the right time) if one is needed. God isn’t going to do those practical things for you. Prayer can bring provision and smoothen your way but you’ve got to get up and do the needful.Don't stop at prayer when you get a prophecy. Take the practical steps that are necessary. Click To Tweet
However, what you do should be prayerfully determined and handled with wisdom. If, for example, God assures you of provision through someone, while you could make contact with them, it is not advisable to tell them that God says they should give you so and so. For starters, they may feel you’re trying to fleece them under the guise of prophecy. Call or visit and bless the person in question if you’re led to and allow God to work out the details.
I wonder how the woman of Zarephath would have reacted if Elijah the prophet had hit her right away with the prophecy he got that she would feed him during the famine in their time. The prophet applied wisdom. He asked for a little water, then a cake and gave the prophecy as a response to the woman’s explanation of her lack. She more or less saw the prophecy as God’s intervention to save her family and believed (1 Kings 17:7-16).
Besides, the person mentioned in the prophecy may be unwilling to help you even though they know it’s God speaking. Allow them to sort themselves out and give freely if they wish. God has over 7 billion people on earth He can bless you through. Don’t act desperate and belittle yourself.
Whatever happens, don’t fight or threaten anyone because they
don’t believe you or act according to your prophecy. Many of the prophets of old were not believed either. Help people around and under you to grow in faith, they will not only begin to believe and obey your prophecies, they will start prophesying to you as well.
5. (For the spiritually mature) Warn against false prophecy and rebuke false prophets:
This can be done specifically or generally as the Lord leads you. Sometimes, the Lord burdens some of His servants with things that are wrong in His body or external influences that could corrupt and mislead His children. False prophecies and the activities of false prophets squarely fall in this sphere.
We should fight against the enemy and his minions’ attempts to blur the line between light and darkness, between God and the devil, through their work. We should also fight against straying ministers of God bringing a reproach to His name. But this should be done in line with the nature of God and His word, which is essentially love. We should not allow our warnings and rebuke to degenerate to disrespect and vulgar abuse. Our goal should be to restore erring believers and hopefully convert the servants of the devil.Don't be rude in rebuking fellow believers or use that as a means to gain cheap popularity. Click To Tweet
“9 and have a good grip on the Message, knowing how to use the truth to either spur people on in knowledge or stop them in their tracks if they oppose it. 10 For there are a lot of rebels out there, full of loose, confusing, and deceiving talk. Those who were brought up religious and ought to know better are the worst. 11 They’ve got to be shut up. They’re disrupting entire families with their teaching, and all for the sake of a fast buck.” – Titus 1:9-11 (MSG)
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” – Ephesians 5:11
“3. Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Jude 1:3-4
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” – Galatians 6:1
“… Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” – 1 Corinthians 8:1
This is not something we should do lightly or use as a means to gain cheap popularity. It is something we should do after much prayer and by the leading of the Holy Ghost. It is not something a babe in Christ should undertake either unless he or she has been specifically anointed for this because:
a. New believers may not know enough of the Word of God or the workings of His Spirit to enable them identify and effectively refute false prophecy.
b. New believers may not be able to withstand attacks from the enemy if they arise from such a mission.
c. New believers may not know how to address the errors of fellow believers with such wisdom and discretion that their efforts do not do more harm than good to the Body of Christ.
In this series, we have seen that we need to know God personally and not run our relationship with Him by proxy. That will enable us to hear directly from Him for each of us is his/her own best prophet. In addition, we have learnt that prophecy is much more than predictions of the future and that it is not our duty as believers to chase prophecies. And what prophecy is and what it is not has been explained to us. We’ve also seen that not all prophecies are fake and we have been acquainted with some guides for distinguishing between true and false prophecies. In addition, we have gleaned the proper ways to respond to prophecy in this post.
I want to end this series by reminding us that God loves us and wants to direct our paths (Psalm 32:8). If we reciprocate His love and walk with Him, He would lead us like the shepherd leads his sheep. We would hear His voice and we would never be deceived by strangers (John 10:14, 2-5). More than that, we would be able to rescue fellow sheep who happen to lose their way.
Let it be so for each of us in Jesus’ name.
The scriptures used in this post are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible except where otherwise stated.
I would love to know if there’s anything you’re taking away from this post and do help me share it widely, if you will. You are richly blessed in Jesus’ name.
Used with permission. English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
Used with permission. Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.
Used with permission. New Century Version (NCV) The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Used with permission. THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.