What to do with a ‘bad’ prophetic word

Recently I was with some teenagers and we were going through what to do with your prophetic word. One of them expressed the fact that he didn’t like his prophetic word. Later, when I chatted one on one with this young person, he confided that he didn’t like it because it hadn’t said anything at all about what he wanted his future to be like ie a sports star. Thus, he didn’t like the prophetic word at all.

It really depends on why we think it is a bad prophetic word.

  • Is it because we didn’t like it?
  • Is it because we were wanting something else?
  • Is it because the ‘spirit’ of it was wrong?
  • Is it because it came completely out of left field and nothing that I had ever thought of before?
  • Is it because it brought confusion, fear, doubt, anger, jealousy?
  • Is it because it doesn’t make sense?

Prophecy can come from 3 sources:

  • Spirit of God (2 Peter 1:21) “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
  • Human Spirit (Jeremiah 23:16-21)This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes.
    They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord……But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord to see or to hear his word?……I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied.
  • Demonic spirit (Jeremiah 23:13) “Among the prophets of Samaria, I saw this repulsive thing: They prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray.”

Thus, not all prophesy comes from God. Most times you will find it does, but sometimes the person giving the prophetic word can prophesy out of their own spirit.

What is our responsibility when receiving a prophetic word?

If we look to the Bible, we find that it encourages us to ‘test’ all Prophetic Words:

  • “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1).
  • “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophesies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good.” (I Thessalonians 5:19-21)

If you get a bad word, don’t come into agreement with it publicly or privately. Break every word that is not coming from the heart of God and speak what you know to be His will over yourself.

These Scriptures warn us to test every prophetic word. Don’t gullibly take it all to heart.

  • Search God for yourself.
  • Test the prophecy, not the prophet.
  • If you don’t understand or like each part of the prophetic word, don’t immediately reject it as false. It may be that it is referring to something that is yet to come about in your life. Put it ‘on the shelf’ for prayerful consideration at a later time.

Living with imperfection:

There are no perfect prophets. There are very few perfect prophecies. Even experienced prophets get it wrong sometimes. A number of prophecies from God will be slightly contaminated by something the prophet has added from his own heart. This is normal even for experienced prophets, because all prophets are human.

I can remember a friend being prophesied over by a world class prophet. This prophet stated publicly that she would have a certain number of children and the first would be a boy. When this friend finally became pregnant, we bought her a blue item to congratulate her. I was 100% certain that she was having a boy as this prophet was meant to be so accurate. My friend delivered a girl. This really challenged my thinking at the time.

The solution is not to reject all prophecy, but to test all prophecy.

What to focus on:

  • Look for the inner witness within our spirit
  • Look for the confirming points – those things that God has already been speaking to you about.
  • Look for the encouragement, the strengthening and building up, the comforting.
  • Look for the hope for something that is coming to pass in the future.
  • Begin to pray over it and work with it to see it come to fruition in your life.

What do you do with a prophetic word that doesn’t make sense?

There are choices to make when a prophetic word doesn’t make sense.

  • We can throw it out because it is in no way witnessing with our soul and spirit, and we think the person who delivered it is way off in left field.
  • We can pray into it and see if the Holy Spirit confirms the word to us.
  • We can also put it ‘up on the shelf’ and see later if the Holy Spirit brings it down or not.

A word of caution – please don’t be too rash with discarding the prophetic word. Keep doing what you are doing for that season. When and if the word is for you, God will bring it back to remembrance, confirm it in His Word, the Bible, or bring another person to prophesy a similar word to confirm it to you.

No matter what, a prophetic word should never take the place of our own personal relationship with God. Several years ago, a woman kept asking my husband for a prophetic word after church for several weeks. What she was really wanting was confirmation about a husband. Instead, my husband gave her an amazing prophetic word about her and her relationship with God. The following week when she asked again, hubby stopped and basically said, “Please go home and work on last week’s prophetic word before you ask again.”

What do you say when you receive a ‘bad’ prophetic word?

Whenever you receive a prophetic word, especially if you have any doubts about it, some good questions to ask are:

  • Did the prophetic word resonate with what God has been talking to you about lately?
  • Did it speak into a situation you are currently facing?
  • Did the prophecy encourage you?
  • Did you feel honoured and respected by the person giving the prophecy?
  • Was the language appropriate?
  • Did the tone and facial expressions match what was said?
  • Which part of the prophecy was most impacting for you?
  • Which was the least impacting for you?
  • How did you find the manner in which it was given?
  • How do you feel it could have had more impact?

If the language was off putting or the prophetic word was negative, please give feedback immediately to the person as this will help them grow in the prophetic. Please do this in a loving manner. Please also encourage them with what part of the prophetic word you felt really resonated with you and was the most impacting.

In the prophetic group I was part of, we would often practice and get feedback from each other in relation to not only what we said but also how we said it.

This is a fantastic reason that the church our family is a part of (Stairway Church) has strong prophetic guidelines in place when people give prophetic words to someone. These guidelines are to help safeguard people and reduce the risk of ‘bad’ prophesying or hurtful words being said.

Part of those guidelines include:

  1. Check your heart – be filled with God’s love for the person and prophesy out of that.
  2. Your prophetic words must encourage, build and comfort.
  3. Appropriate permission, language, tone, timing and touch. Always ask people’s permission before you give them a prophetic word and respect their right to say ‘no’.
  4. Record the prophetic word.
  5. Anyone under the age of 16 has to have a parent, guardian or appropriate adult with them when they are receiving a prophetic word.

Basically, every Christian is hopefully wanting to grow in their relationship with Jesus and in hearing from God for themselves and others. How we do this is so important.

Prophetic Activations / Exercises to incorporate into your week:

Every week I list 5 prophetic activations/exercises under children/family, group, beginner, intermediate and advanced. The purpose of these exercises is to help us hear God’s voice in a clearer manner. They sharpen our senses to hear and see and sense God and His way of communicating with us. This enables us to grow in our relationship with God and also to impart to others what God tells us for them. Feel free to use as many of these activations each week as you can. The more you practice, the sharper you become at hearing God’s voice. Enjoy! Remember that whenever you give another person a prophetic word or picture etc, please make sure that it is encouraging, edifying (strengthening) and comforting (1 Corinthians 14:3) and that it comes from a place of love.

1. Children / Families Activation: Give out paper and ask each person to draw a tree. Label each branch with a family member’s name or a person close to them. Have pre-cut out ‘leaves’ from green paper. Ask each person to write at least one encouraging word on a leaf for each person they have labelled on a branch. Ask them to pause for a moment and ask God to tell, give or show them that word. Glue the leaf on to the appropriate branch. Repeat for each person/branch drawn.

2. Group Activation: Break into small groups. Brainstorm negative things that could be said when prophesying or negative situations or character traits you may receive a word of knowledge about. Chat about how you would respond. Share back in the large group. Then practice with each other.

3. Beginner Activation: Look through your own prophetic words (ie words given to you) and ask God to highlight to you any misconceptions. Ask God how you are to respond. Then write a prophetic word for the person who prophesied the misconception over you.

4. Intermediate Activation: Ask God to show you a teenager who is sitting exams at the moment. Write a prophetic word for this teenager and pass it on to them as soon as possible.

5. Advanced Activation:  Ask God to highlight to you someone who has made an unwise decision lately. Prophesy over them.