I’ve always been intrigued by prophecy. Even though as a general rule I’m kind of a skeptic, the stories of people who’ve been given prophetic words that eventually came to pass have always fascinated me.
I grew up in an Assemblies of God family and never quite felt like I fit in because I’m so introverted and structured (I’ve always said I would have made a good Lutheran, but God has a sense of humor!), and as a kid I would snicker at the splashy headlines in my grandma’s Charisma magazines.
These days, I’m the one getting snickered at, because I’ve become a loyal Charisma reader myself in my [not-so-] old age. The prophecy section is my favorite part because it always leaves me feeling so encouraged and hopeful…which is exactly the point.
Prophecy is biblical. I’m not talking about fortune-telling or horoscopes or what you see on any of those weird reality shows. That stuff’s not biblical at all. Prophecy is.
Prophecy is one of the spiritual gifts listed in both Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, and it’s basically the ability to hear from God and speak his words to others. It is not meant to tear people down or be all doom-and-gloom; it is intended to uplift and encourage, to share God’s heart for someone, or to share a glimpse of his future for that person.
An even simpler definition of prophecy is just “speaking truth,” but I think there’s more to it than that. I like how Kris Vallotton says prophecy is intended for edification, exhortation, and consolation (You can read more of what he has to say here).
I didn’t hear from God a whole lot until I was in my mid-20s. I talk about that in more detail in these posts:
The Devotional That Changed My Life (How I Learned to Hear from God)
Five Ways God Speaks to You
Five MORE Ways God Speaks to You
At that point, I started hearing from God often. But I didn’t receive prophetic words from anyone else. I kind of wanted to (even though I was admittedly a little afraid of what they might say), because, like I said, I was intrigued! I knew all these things God had been telling me personally, but I was curious what he would tell other people about me. So naturally, I did the selfish thing: I prayed. 😊
I asked God to 1) increase my own prophetic gift, and 2) send others (specifically “legit” people) to prophesy over me.
Within months, he answered. I started praying that prayer probably a year-and-a-half ago. Since then, I have received many prophetic words from others. It’s really been incredible!
It all started with a friend hesitantly sharing something that God put on her heart for me when we were the last ones left at small group one night. She confirmed something I was already feeling and said about the most encouraging thing she possibly could have that day.
A few weeks later, another friend invited me to go hear a prophetic guy speak a few towns over. I was a little freaked out by this idea, because I knew the guy could turn out to be a total wacko, but curiosity won out. He had a prophetic word for me, and the things he spoke over me were so unbelievably accurate that I was in tears. This person – someone I’d never met or even heard of, and vice-versa – mentioned things about me that he could not have possibly known if not for God revealing them. His words were so specific, so encouraging, and even hilarious at times because of their accuracy. The same was true for what he prophesied over my friend. We were both laughing over what he said to the other, even though no one else in the room understood why. There is no way this guy could have known any of the details he referred to! If not for God.
Most recently, I was having kind of a down day. I was frustrated with my life in general, feeling like everything I tried failed and all my efforts were pointless. I was at a church meeting despite wishing I had stayed home to mope instead. 😉 During our worship time, I was barely paying attention when an old coworker asked if he could prophesy over me. He, too, left me feeling so encouraged by the words that God gave him for me. One of the things he told me is that I was in “the perfect place” and that God was proud of me. I’m really not a crier, but there I was, bawling again, all because God led a willing servant to speak something that I so badly needed to hear.
All I can say is that, so far, God has amazed me with the prophetic words he has provided ever since I asked. I only mentioned a few here, but each one I’ve received has been accurate, encouraging, and life-giving.
Yes, there are definitely false prophets out there. If anything a so-called “prophet” says contradicts the Bible, makes you feel worse than you did before, or just doesn’t resonate with you, that person (or that specific word) is probably not legit. Pray for God to give you discernment so you can recognize which words come from him. And if you’re hesitantly hoping for a prophetic word like I was, ask God for that, too! He might surprise you with his answer!
Although I was scared to do it, I’m glad I started praying that prayer so many months ago. Not only has God provided some seriously encouraging words for me from others, but he has occasionally given me a prophetic word for someone else, too.
My best advice? Write it all down. Write what God tells you personally, write what he tells you for someone else, and write down the prophetic words that other people give you. (Record them with your phone if you can, too, otherwise it can be hard to remember everything!) The best way to know if a prophecy is legitimate is to see it come to pass in the future. And when you have a written record that you can revisit weeks, months, or years down the road, it helps you track everything.
May God bless your efforts as you seek to hear him more, and here’s an encouraging word for you: the best is yet to come, and God has good plans for your life! (That one comes straight from Jeremiah 29:11. 😊)