When people hear the word “prophetic”, they can have very different understandings of what the word means depending on their background, teaching and beliefs.

Some people have had very good experiences with prophetic ministry. They have experienced encouragement and empowerment. They’ve seen prophetic ministry as an effective way to equip and develop the body of Christ. Some people, however, have seen the prophetic used in an ungodly manner and therefore, have not had good experiences. This has led to uncertainty and even to fear. They either have strong reservations about prophetic ministry or prefer to avoid it altogether.

People who have not seen a lot of prophetic ministry in action have very little idea of what prophecy is or what to expect. They may have a limited understanding of whether or not it’s for today. They may also have doubts about what the Bible actually teaches about the prophetic, except perhaps what their denomination has taught about end time prophecy.

I have written this article for the very reason that everyone has a different perception about prophetic ministry depending on their background and what they have been taught.

Over the past 15 years, our ministry Prophetic Activation School has had students from many different Christian denominations. It has at various times, included Seven Day Adventists, Anglicans, Uniting, Roman Catholics, Baptists and Pentecostals.

Common mistakes

I have been involved with prophetic ministry and around prophetic people for over 20 years.
In this time, I’ve seen the prophetic misused a great deal. Here are some examples:

– Leaders manipulating others using so-called prophetic words to convince them to do what they want.
– People manipulating their leaders by using the words “God says” or by using a prophetic word to try to get their own way.
– People being hurt when prophetic words have been delivered or spoken, incorrectly.
– Christians using witchcraft by making prophetic statements or, putting something onto a person that wasn’t God’s plan for their life.
– People giving words about God’s future potential for someone, but the person wasn’t ready for what was prophesied.
– Using flattery to “tickle the ears” of a person, stating what people want to hear in order to win them over.
Micah 2:11 says If a man walking in a spirit [of vanity] and in falsehood should lie and say, I will prophesy to you of wine and strong drink, O Israel, he would even be the acceptable prophet of this people! (AMP)

Promoting people in ministry

In 1 Samuel 16 God directs Samuel to go and anoint David as King. This is the point of David’s call but it wasn’t till many years later that David was appointed or commissioned and actually stepped into the role. There is always a preparation time and a distinction between the call and the commissioning.

On more than one occasion, I’ve seen people prophesied over by prophetic ministers who have declared that person as a prophet either prematurely or falsely . This can lead to a pressure of unbearable responsibility and a spiritual dynamic in the person’s life which then will bring confusion, since the person being “commissioned” didn’t want to disappoint God or it has caused the person to be overwhelmed and restricted under the pressure as God did not actually say what was prophesied over them.

God may well have been calling that person to become a prophet. However, at the time of being prayed for, they were not ready to go into that role formally. They were commissioned well before their time. Inappropriate prophecy has caused many reactions including causing the person to stumble in pride, or to develop a false sense of their own importance because they’ve just been given a title.

In these instances, there has been very little guidance from anyone in leadership. Unfortunately the person has been left to work it out alone. This type of pressure can cause devastation for a person prematurely or incorrectly commissioned. It can seem like a curse rather than a blessing. Illness, marriage breakdown and family disunity can often follow.
Prophecy does have the power to bring spritual life and death.
Consider Proverbs 8:21″Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” (NKJV)

These incidents would have occurred at the hands of a very immature prophet or prophetic ministry gone horribly wrong. It takes time for God to build the potential within us often decades as with David.
In some instances people are looking for the title of “prophet”. They think it carries a lot of glory and importance. If this is the reason a person wants to be a prophet they have no understanding of the role at all.

As a result of these mistakes, and the damage done by them, the prophetic really carries a stigma. Understandably, churches of many denominations, have shut down the prophetic and refused to allow it in their meetings because it has been misused. In many circles, when anything to do with the prophetic is mentioned, it is common for a discussion to emerge on how bad it is; how wrong it is; how weird it is and frankly, how ungodly these people are. This is because people have used the label “prophetic” and done things that don’t line up with the word or the nature of God. This discredits genuine prophetic gifts and, therefore discredits God Himself.

We have to out grow this stigma that clings to the prophetic. We live in a time like never before, where God is saying, “Be prophetic people, but do it with integrity and represent My nature, understand My ways.”

Some people believe that the prophetic should expose sin and tell people their weaknesses and how bad they are. This too, is totally unbiblical. God does confront sin and relieve people of their guilt and shame, but he does so gracefully and with love. Some people have used the prophetic to excuse themselves from the body of Christ. They isolate themselves as though this is God’s will. They use “God says”, to excuse themselves from being accountable to others.

In the Old Testament, prophets may have functioned in a certain way (seemingly harsh, correcting, rebuking), but we now live in New Testament times and a different behaviour is required to represent God correctly.

I believe two principles to be vital in this regard:

1. New Testament prophetic people are meant to be team players,:
“Submitting to one another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:21 NKJV)

2. New Testament prophetic people are meant to be accountable
“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17 NKJV).

Therefore, as prophetic people we have a responsibility to put ourselves in a safe place, to create and establish strong relationships around us, to encourage peers and mentors that help keep us accountable. Many prophetic people have been wounded and misunderstood. However Prophetic people should be strong and whole. Part of maturity is to be healed and to choose to trust again..We need to ask God to provide right mentors and right relationships for us so that we can submit. God is very faithful. “Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” (Psalm 36:5 NKJV) and “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13 NKJV)

If we really want right relationships, God will provide them. He has certainly done that for us in our journey in the prophetic.