Prophecy begins by receiving a burden. It’s very important that we allow our hearts to be on the same wavelength as God’s. God, I believe, wants to give each of us a sense of burden. God delivered us from being in a church where most of the congregation doesn’t feel any sense of responsibility for the work. If we don’t feel a sense of taking on the word collectively for the church, we are missing out on the heart of God for the community. Every member of the church should be living with a sense of ownership for the work in the community in which they live. It is out of that burden that God will express his heart.
When I receive a burden we must ask the Lord questions. Who is it for? What is that you want to do? At the end of this prophecy, what is it you want to achieve in this person’s life? And what is the objective? It’s that sense of objective that helps us to be clear, specific and significant in terms of what your prophesying. It focuses the heart of God into the persons life. Without that sense of objective, we sometimes fudge the words or pad the prophecy out with too many human insights. That is because we don’t have a really sharp focus on what God wants to do.
Very often the first thing received is diagnostic. There’s a difference between diagnosis and prognosis. Sometimes we see a vision or have information that might actually be quite negative. We may see a fault, wrong. Very often this can be a diagnostic simply because prophecy has three elements to it. A word of knowledge opens up a situation, a word of prophecy speaks gods heart into it, and the word of wisdom tells us how to respond to God. The first thing we get may actually be a word of knowledge, not prophecy. God is giving us information about this person’s life, about his situation. God is helping us understand the context in which we are speaking. Don’t be in a hurry to prophesy. Many people feel that they have to get a word out of their mouth as soon as they receive it. Sometimes God just wants to give us a backstory. This is diagnostic. However the prognosis is what the Lord is going to do now and in the future, indicating what is to come. It’s not enough for us to simply point out what’s wrong if we have no heart to lead a recovery.
While ministering in Wales the Lord showed me a coleader who was taking every opportunity to criticize the main leader. This was a word of knowledge about what was going on, so I asked the Lord what to do with it. I called them both out in front of the meeting and had them stand back to back. I put a broom handle in the coleaders hand and told him the Lord has brought you two men together and stood you back to back in fighting position to guard each other because the enemy wants to destroy your life. I gave the coleader a charge to pray for his leadership and at this point he began to cry. Everyone thought it was out of a sense of privilege when in reality he was suddenly aware of his sin and backstabbing. Without me mentioning his sin in public, because love protects, the holy spirit brought him to a point of repentance. A prophet must be good news, even if that news is repent! If I had spoken in the word of knowledge it would’ve destroyed these relationships and brought embarrassment in front of everyone. However, going to God and asking him how to approach the situation allowed the coleader to receive repentance in privacy and strengthen the relationship of the leaders. Later that week while I was alone with the coleader, I shared with him what the Lord had showed me. He was so blessed to know that God cared enough to keep from publicly exposing him.
We can read scripture that contains Bible truths, but sometimes we need the now element of prophecy, allied to Scripture, to actually bring the word home to our circumstances in a dynamic way.
As one of my good friends says, prophecy is 80% preparation, 20% inspiration, 100% perspiration and 1000% trepidation.
I’m tired of what we call seagull prophets. People who fly in, make a loud noise, dump their word on everyone and fly out again. These prophets come into town, give people an ideal, then leave it up to local leaders to work through the reality on the ground. They often have no understanding of how prophecy is actually worked through in the local church. We need to understand that prophets are part of the fivefold ministry which is essentially a building ministry. In the past many churches have asked traveling prophets to come in, speak a word over their congregation, then head off to the next stop. While, this word can build up a congregation, the real building happens with a long term commitment. If a prophet is going to speak a word they should also be available to give advice and counsel. This building process needs a prophet, apostle, pastor, teacher, and evangelist to create steps that move the church from the actual of where they are now to the ideal of where God is really taking them.
The main cause of failure in the prophetic is that we are moving under pressure rather than in peace and relaxation and the knowledge of God. I am under a ton of pressure, everywhere I go, to move in prophecy. I accept that pressure as part of the ministry, but there is no way that I can live under the weight of false expectations. Every day I have to push away the burden of other people’s expectations. Worship is important to a prophet. Being at rest and peace in our relationship with God is vital. If we seek to process revelation with our minds, we will come into uncertainty and fear-fear of getting it wrong, fear of going out on a limb, fear of embarrassment and fear of looking stupid in front of others. That fear will cause us to cut our losses and say nothing. We are then reduced to saying something general that our mind can cope with rather than a word that is supernatural and significant.
While in London I ministered to a man in his late 40s who approached me with the relationship issue. He told me nothing else so I asked the lord if the relationship was male or female. It was a 50-50 chance, I heard female. The odds were significantly against me after that as I had to decide whether it was a wife, mother, sister, daughter, etc. The Lord showed me a mid to late 20-year-old girl. My mind screamed daughter, but my spirit said wife. I let my faith loose, ignoring my mind, watching this man weep as I spoke to him about his wife 20 years his junior who he feared would leave him for a younger man. The Lord showed comfort to him that day.
Some people are feelers in the prophetic. We feel peoples pain, joy, etc. We feel things from the heart of God. Some people are seers. We see pictures and have dreams. Some people are hearers. Sometimes we can move between all three. It is a good thing not to get locked into one methodology.
Do not move out on what you see or understand in the natural. A lot of prophetic people make the mistake of looking for clues from people, trying to pick up something from how someone looks, the way they are sitting, the air about the individual. This is a very soulish or emotional and produces prophecy on that level. It leads us into the room of the soul where we can give Satan opportunity to add to what is going on. What we get may be information, not revelation. Sometimes we can completely missed the mark.
While ministering at a conference a stunningly attractive woman approached me and I heard God say, ‘Son, his name is Richard, and I want you to tell him I know his name and that he must change.’ I took a deep breath and looked at this person. There was no way I could tell; All the clues said she was female. Choosing to live in my spirit through faith, I brought a measure of peace to my mind, which was almost imploring me not to do anything stupid. I had to overcome fear and embarrassment also in those seconds of quiet. I spoke what the Lord had said to me and before I could add anything else this person let out a string of obscenities, hiked up his long skirt and ran from the building closely followed by several other females.
Another time God gave me a word for a man who was going to give hundreds of thousands of dollars away to a church, and that he would be leading key business people to the Lord. The problem was the Lord pinpointed a guy dressed like a vagrant, an absolute down and out character, and right behind him was a man dressed in a suit who looked like money. I got the tramp to stand up and prophesied over him. He was looking at me with the stony face giving me no help whatsoever not a single movement. Try not to look at peoples faces for confirmation. Our own peace and rest in the Lord should be sufficient encouragement. Several moments later the Lord gave me a word for the guy in the suit that he was going to get a call back about the interview and that the job was his. As you can imagine, the enemy was not silent at this point. Everything on the inside was screaming at me, you fool, you idiot, you’ve got it wrong! I spoke to both of them later and found out that the vagrant was indeed an extremely wealthy individual and the man in a suit had just come back from an interview.
I have to say that I was so relieved and very grateful to the Lord. Prophetic ministry is never straightforward; it is ridiculously easy to make mistakes even after years in the ministry. People apply impossible standards to the prophetic office that they don’t sign to any other ministry. I do not have to be under pressure to be prophetic. I have to be myself and Jesus, and people can either cope with it or not as the case may be. As Jesus said, I can only do what the father is doing and say what my father and having to saying. Never move out by what you see; it will get you into trouble every time. Do not lean on your own understanding.
1 Sam. 16:7 – Man looks at outward appearances, but the Lord looks at the heart.