Prophetic Word, Now What?

Posted on June 23, 2021

By John Thomas

Someone Gave Me a Prophetic Word—Now What?

The other day, I sat down with a pastor who told me about a couple in his church who received a prophetic word from a well-known minister. 

In their eagerness to fulfill the word, they moved to another state, leaving jobs, family, church, and home—only to watch their dream fall apart. A couple of years later, they returned broken, disappointed, and disillusioned. Now the pastor is wary about prophetic ministry and isn’t sure he wants it in his church.

I sat there wondering, How did this happen? 

Did the couple spend time discerning the word and talking with friends and leaders about how to respond? Did they clarify the word’s timing? 

I realized that many churches have teaching on how to give revelation, but there seems to be little instruction on how to discern and respond to revelation.

How Do You Discern a Prophetic Word?

When someone says they have a message from God for you, there is no reason to automatically assume that what they’re about to tell you is from Him. 

Some of us are afraid of missing God, and this fear can push us to believe practically anything we hear. “You think this is from God? Okay!” 

Many of us believe that prophetic ministers are closer to God than we are, so we need to believe their words. Also, there are times when a prophetic word fits so well into what we already want, think, or feel that we assume it must be from God. 

When someone gives us a prophetic word, it needs to pass a series of tests before we accept it as God’s voice:

  • Bible test: A word from God will never contradict Scripture.
  • God test: You know God’s heart—did that word sound like Him? Did it feel like Him? 
  • Nature test: Did the word agree with God’s nature? Was it inviting or manipulating? Was it convicting or condemning? Did it leave you with hope or despair, faith or fear?
  • Relevancy test: Is the word relevant to your life? Can you do something with it?
  • Relationship test: Does it fit into the other things God is talking to you about? Prophetic words are one sentence in an ongoing conversation you’re having with the Lord.

Even if the word passes all those tests, you may need to wait before you act on the word. For instance, if the word calls you to do something, do you know what to do? And do you know when to do it? 

You don’t need to know everything in advance—an element of faith will be involved—but God doesn’t expect you to respond if you don’t know how to respond. 

If you receive a word from God, and it really is from God, but you don’t know what to do with it, ask Him for confirmation and clarification.

What Now?

Some prophetic words are about the future. They’re destiny words. When we get these words, one way we respond is by preparing ourselves.

If the word is about going to another country, you’ll need a passport. Should you learn the language or about the culture? What does God say when you ask Him?

If the word is about starting a business, do you need to learn management skills? If God said you’re going to invent something, what do you know about patents?

With a prophetic word, we don’t need to try to make it happen. If it is a word from God, He makes it happen. At the same time, we can be ready and prepared when He opens the door. It is wise to invite spiritual leaders we trust into this process to help us discern the word and the right response.

Some words are about how God sees us. They’re identity words. Do we believe what God is saying about us? Does part of our heart need to be healed so we can accept His words? Prophetic words about identity are great to use in declarative prayer—we declare over ourselves what God has said, asking Him to make it real to us.

Are the words about a coming miracle, breakthrough, or ministry? When we receive such words, we respond the way Paul directed Timothy:

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. (1 Tim. 1:18–19 ESV)

We turn the prophecies into prayers and keep praying until they are fully realized.

Holding Faith and a Good Conscience

Once we’ve discerned that a word is from God and we’ve responded the best we can, we trust. 

As you move forward, hold your understanding of the prophetic word loosely, and don’t let go of your trust in God’s goodness, faithfulness, and love for you.

Hang on to your faith in Him. Not faith in how it’s going to happen, but faith that God will accomplish what He planned. Not faith in your capacity to understand His plan, but in His ability to fulfill it. 

If you want to learn more, check out our new e-course, Discerning and Responding to Prophetic Words.