I’m pretty sure that I’m not the first person to have a strange or uncomfortable experience with prophetic ministry. From people touching me without asking to giving me strange and completely inaccurate words without even thinking to ask me if it made sense. Just because there are people out there who do the wrong thing, does it make the whole thing wrong? Of course not. Prophetic ministry is powerful and SO effective in communicating God’s love... when it operates under authority and with humility. When we create an environment of health around the prophetic we create space for people to learn and for the body to minister powerfully both inside and outside of church settings. Here’s a few simple tips for creating a safe and healthy prophetic culture.
To the person giving a word:
1. Be humble.
No one gets it right all the time and your delivery is everything. It’s wise to leave some space for human error when saying “God said”; especially if you end up being wrong, because, not only is that embarrassing for you, but it confuses people. Instead say things like “I think God may be saying...” “I could be off, but is it true that...” “Before I go on, does what I’m saying make sense?”. And if you do end up in a situation where you give someone a wrong word take ownership of that and apologize if necessary.
2. Understand the purpose of prophetic ministry.
Prophetic ministry always has the motive of demonstrating God’s love for the person. As we are being used as a conduit of that love we should NEVER minister to someone that we don’t feel able to love in that moment. Before saying anything to someone ensure you have no offense towards them and ask God to show you how he sees them. Then course we have to ensure we have healthy prophetic core values of comfort, encouragement and exhortation (1 Cor 14:3-4). Our motive should never be to look cool or to prove how well we can hear God. Prophetic ministry is meant to serve others in the church and serve as a sign to people who don’t yet know God.
3. Don’t be weird for no reason.
It doesn’t make me more spiritual to speak in old English, rattle my voice or shake around. Just be authentic, use regular words that people understand and let any manifestation of God’s presence be authentic. Be perceptive of the environment you are in and don’t make the person you are speaking to uncomfortable or insist that they listen to you. Awareness of body language can prevent a lot of awkward situations.
4. Understand authority.
Live personally submitted to authority and know how to act in other people’s spheres of authority. We are all made for community. We are able to function WITH authority when we are UNDER spiritual authority. It’s so important that we are teachable and able to be corrected at any stage of our ministry by leaders. When we live without spiritual authority in our lives we are disconnected from growth and can end up functioning like a loose canon with no accountability. Also, when visiting someone else’s ministry or church- understand that you are to submit to their authority. Don’t take liberties that haven’t been given to you without the blessing of leadership; It’s awkward and just shows immaturity.
To the person receiving a word:
1. It’s ok to say "no thank you".
We are all powerful people and it's ok to decline someone offering to pray or impart something to you. Allowing people a place to pray and speak into our lives is a trustworthy place; say no thank you if you feel uncomfortable. I personally don’t let anyone pray over me if I
A. don’t want them too or
B. I know they don’t have the covering of authority in their life.
It’s totally fine to loving say “no thank you, I’m good.”
2. Test the word
Tell someone if the word doesn’t resonate or if you feel that it’s out of agreement with scripture. Sometimes it can feel like we just have to take every word “from God” at face value. Even the most well-meaning people or people who get a lot of things right can be wrong. It’s actually a blessing for the humble to know when they’re wrong because it gives them a chance to grow. Also, we are empowered to understand that we are the gatekeeper of our own spiritual health. We are called to use discernment! Then there are times when something doesn’t make sense in the moment but we don’t feel to reject the word. In those cases we suggest that you “put it on the shelf”; it may be proven right or wrong over time.
3. Give people space and grace to learn without discouraging them.
We are all at different stages of our journey of exercising spiritual gifts. It takes practice. God is not after our performance, he’s after our faith. When people are first starting to take risks be encouraging to them! Even if the word is wrong they were brave to step out and try!
Here’s the main point: In a healthy prophetic culture there is responsibility on everyone to keep things life-giving and edifying. There are few things as powerful as a word from God to bring direction, confirmation, breakthrough and identity. Let’s use our gifts to glorify God and bless others.