Did you receive a prophetic word from God or was it all just in your mind? Here’s how to tell.
When I hear from God, how do I know it’s not just my imagination? That’s the question I was asked recently, as we started my new training course on learning to prophesy.
In the introductory session I asked the group for their top 2 questions about hearing or listening to God. I gave them some time to think about it and a few days later the questions started rolling in.
It gave me lots to think about (they were good questions!), but one of the main themes was around how we can be sure that we really did hear God. Here’s my partial answer, where I’ll share one of the main keys I believe can unlock your journey into the prophetic.
I once drove to visit my sister when she was living in the middle of London. I found her place easily and managed to find a nearby parking space. We had a good catch up and later when I was about to leave, she warned me that there were plenty of one way streets around: I should go this way, then take that turning, etc, and I would be on my way.
I listened very carefully (as one does in such situations), and said my goodbyes. I headed off and tried to go the way she said. However, it soon became apparent that somehow I had messed up. What was supposed to be a simple “go straight on to get to the main road”, turned into a dead end junction with two choices: left or right.
Neither way looked promising and all I could see was residential areas, with small alleys on either side. A vision of being lost in one-way systems began to rise in my mind and my heart beat went a little faster.
In an effort to quell the sense of panic before it started, I naturally turned to the Lord. “Father, which way should I go?”, was my simple plea, perhaps edged with just a hint of desperation …and I clearly heard the word “left”.
Whether or not the word was truly audible is something I debated with myself for some time after the event. However, in the moment I simply obeyed, and with great results: I turned left, drove to the end of the road and there was a sign pointing to my home town!
When we listen to God, we can never be 100% certain that we heard him, or that we got it all right. There’s always an element of faith involved. And that’s a good thing.
When we listen with the ears – and watch with the eyes – of faith, we are putting our trust in God. We believe that he will come through and give us what we need.
Trust me, there’s nothing better than sharing a prophetic word with someone and hearing the feedback “that was spot on!”. It grows the faith that you have and can help you move up a level in your gifting.
My driving story is a simple example of a technique we can all use to grow in the prophetic. Let’s have a look at that now.
When you first start to prophesy, you may feel only 10-20% sure that it really is God you are hearing. However, there is a key you can use as you learn that will help unlock your gift, so you can increase your confidence in your abilities: ask the right questions.
Prophecy, just like any spiritual gift, is about cooperating with the Holy Spirit. That means that you can ask him questions as you listen to him. You can also ask yourself questions, as you continue to pray. It’s a good habit to get into, whenever you are giving or receiving a prophetic word.
Here are 4 examples:
1. Is this prophecy biblical?
This is the first and most obvious guide to understanding a prophetic word.
If that word doesn’t line up with scripture in some way, either with specific bible verses, or relating to a biblical theme, then it may not be from God.
2. Is there a witness of the Holy Spirit that this is true?
Sometimes, we just “know” that a word is from God.
If you’re like most people, you probably feel this kind of understanding happens only infrequently. The secret to experiencing it more often, is to practice listening to God all the time: engaging in a lifestyle of listening. The more you practice, the easier it becomes.
3. Is this prophetic word confirming what is already heard or known?
If a word is something completely new and unexpected to the recipient, then it may not be from the Lord.
Many prophetic words, but (importantly) not all, confirm something the Lord has already been saying. There are exceptions to this, but I don’t have space to expand on it here (let me know if you’d like to hear more about this subject).
4. Do I feel any sense of unease about this message?
This question can be a powerful indicator.
Sometimes, the answers to most, or even all of the other questions may seem to be a “yes”, but there’s something about the message that doesn’t sit quite right with you, in your spirit. This may be an indication that it’s wrong, but it can also mean that there are certain aspects or details of the message that are incomplete.
We can continue to ask these and other questions as we pray. In general, the more questions we ask, the more we can receive from Holy Spirit and the more we learn to be clearer and more confident in sharing prophetic words.
For me, gaining confidence in my ability to hear God is an important part of growing my prophetic gift. It’s about moving from a feeling of “I don’t know what I’m doing”, to the point where, like Jesus, “I only do what I see the Father doing” (John 5:19).
Discussion Question: What is your top question about hearing God’s voice? – and what do you think the answer may be?
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