(By Ryan LeStrange) Prophecy is a very special gift that is given to the church to edify, exhort and comfort the people of God (1 Cor. 14:3). When a church, a ministry or a person embraces a prophetic spirit, there are great revelation, direction and strength that are released.
The prophetic ministry has the potential to be a powerful catalyst of change and progress to the body of Christ. The enemy hates authentic prophetic ministry and will do all that he can to sow seeds of discord and confusion.
“Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophecies. Examine all things. Firmly hold onto what is good” (1 Thess. 5:19-21, MEV).
We are given three instructions in these verses:
1. Do not quench the Spirit! There is so much more that is available to us when we step into the realm of the Spirit.
2. Do not despise the prophetic! No matter how messy it gets or what mistakes are made, we are told to value the flow of prophetic gifts.
3. Prove all things and hold fast to the good. We must learn to discern the real gift of prophecy in our lives.
When we receive a personal prophetic word, we are accountable to properly steward it! Many people have received volumes of prophetic words that have not produced fruit in their lives.
Why? I believe a common reason for unfruitful prophetic words is that we have failed to properly steward what the Lord has said to us. A prophetic word is not the destination but simply the gateway. It is an invitation to the journey but the way we navigate the journey will determine how and if we arrive at the final destination.
The first thing that you must do to steward a personal prophecy is to judge it. Is it a true word from the Lord? Here are some simple tips to recognize and judge personal prophecy:
1. Examine the vessel. The first question to ask is: “Who gave you the word and how was it delivered?” Why is this important? Many times, a wrong word is evidenced by the way it is delivered. I have seen many “parking lot prophets” who roam from church to church to engage in a renegade prophetic ministry that operates outside of any blessing from the house. This creates conflict by speaking to the ambitions of people instead of pure prophetic declaration.
“We ask you, brothers, to acknowledge those who labor among you, and are appointed over you in the Lord, and instruct you” (1 Thess. 5:12, MEV).
You should have some knowledge of a person’s character before allowing them to speak into your life. People who claim to be prophets yet disrespect order, tearing down more than they ever build up, are indeed deceived. The problem that arises is that sometimes a deceived person still has an accurate gift that will draw people in.
How can this be?
There are two answers:
- The gifts and calling of God are without repentance (Rom. 11:29). Simply put, God doesn’t remove a gift because a person gets in error. It is quite possible for someone to speak out a prophecy with accuracy but have poor fruit. The other important thing to know is that the highest level of prophetic operation is not just revealing the desires of a human heart; it is releasing the heart of the Father and revealing the end of the matter! Many times, personal prophecy also contains a dimension of rebuke in order to align the recipient with God’s heart and plan for him.
- There is a false spirit in operation. There are many people out there who have opened themselves up to wrong spirits. These individuals have communication in the spirit realm with demonic spirits. They can give accurate information but cannot release the Father’s heart because they are blocked by their deception. On more than one occasion, I have seen a spirit of divination operating through someone and mimicking the prophetic. The end result is destruction, which is why knowing the fruit and doing things in order are so important.
2. Judge all prophecies by the written Word of God. “But the one who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted because he has forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins” (2 Pet. 1:9, MEV).
“I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘See that you not do that. I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy'” (Rev. 19:10, MEV).
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1, MEV).
No prophetic word should disagree with the written Word of God. In fact, the church should actively examine prophetic utterances to make sure that they are in line with God’s Word and boldly toss out any that are not. For example, if a person prophesies that a married person is to leave their spouse and marry someone else, that prophecy is a blatant deception and witchcraft at work. If a renegade tries to prophesy to a church member that God wants them to rebel against the leaders, again, this prophecy is a deception and false spirit. Never accept a prophetic word that cannot be properly judged by God’s Word.
3. Is it something that God has already been speaking to you? Ask yourself if the word confirms something you’ve already felt led to do. For example, a person owns a business that God clearly directed him to have and God told him that it is a place of fruitfulness and ministry for him. Then he gets a prophecy that he is to sell the business and start a church. He should never just run out and do that. If the prophetic word does not bear witness in the inner man, then either put it on the shelf, as it could be for a future time, or throw it out. Never make a major decision based on a single prophetic word without any leading of the Spirit in your own life!
4. Get wise counsel. Take the word to trusted advisers and ask them to judge it. “For by wise counsel you will wage your war, and in multitude of counselors there is safety“ (Prov. 24:6, MEV).
When judging a personal prophecy, honor your spiritual relationships and seek the input of these trusted individuals. If your parents are godly people, ask them what they think. If you are married, and your spouse is serving the Lord, seek his input. The people who know you best and are committed to God’s will for you can often see things that you may not see. Also, seek the input of your spiritual leadership. Go to your pastor or apostolic leadership and ask him for insight. So many times I have seen a prophecy steer someone in the wrong direction and then this person’s lack of communication with godly leaders empowered the deception.
Once you have discerned that the prophetic word is accurate and speaking to you, then you must steward it. We’ll talk more about that in the next article.
Ryan LeStrange started in ministry after training and serving under his spiritual father Dr. Norvel Hayes. Ryan and his wife, Joy, lead Impact International Ministries based in Bristol, Virginia, which consists of several local churches and revival ministries. Through Ryan LeStrange Ministries, he travels the globe preaching, igniting revival and moving in the power of God. Ryan can be seen weekly on his television program, Power 4 Today, airing around the world on GodTV. He is the founder and apostle of Impact International Apostolic Fellowship, networking and fathering ministers around the world. Ryan has authored several books releasing an apostolic and prophetic perspective to the body of Christ. Please visit ryanlestrange.com.