When should you share a prophecy and when should you not? The “Golden Rule” of prophecy will help you decide.

 

How do you know when to share a prophetic word? When is it right to hold back a word, perhaps to share later?

I’ll try to answer these questions right here, and along the way I’ll explain exactly what the Golden Rule is.

But first let’s ask the question, why is it important?

To do that, I have a couple of real-life illustrations for you.

Golden Rule: When NOT To Share A Prophecy

I was once at a prayer meeting where one of the leaders called us to pray for a member of the congregation who was very ill.

We were in the middle of interceding for them, when I felt the Lord say that they would not be healed.

As you can imagine, this set up a struggle inside me. Should I share this difficult and emotionally charged word with those present?

Or maybe I just got it wrong? The consequences of giving air to such a word could be devastating.

Thankfully for me, the Lord spoke very clearly: he didn’t want me to say anything at that time.

Golden Rule: When To Share A Prophecy

I don’t fully understand why the Lord sometimes reveals things to me that are not for sharing.

However, I do know that:

  • he is training me to discern his voice more clearly
  • he uses those experiences to direct my prayers
  • any prophetic gift I have is for the benefit of others, so I can love those around me

On a different occasion, the sister of a friend was also very ill.

I was sitting in the congregation one Sunday morning, when I saw my friend go forward for prayer. At this moment, I felt the presence of Holy Spirit, and the Lord told me to tell my friend that she needed to say goodbye.

My immediate (if human), reaction was to say, “Oh Lord, please, no! Don’t make me say that!”. However, the prompting of Holy Spirit was insistent and I knew I had to obey.

A Very Personal Prophecy

I went to join the prayer team and as we prayed for my friend, the Lord showed me what was happening to her sister.

With a broken voice, I shared how her sister’s body was now too weak to continue as she was. Her frail body could not contain God’s glory that was growing within her.

My friend agreed that this was true and I said that the Lord was going to take her sister home.

We hugged and cried together, praying and thanking God for his mercy and his love. She was able to go and say goodbye to her sister, who died a day or two later.

Emotional Impact

Prayer and prophecy with and for others binds us together. It has a spiritual and emotional impact on both the speaker and the hearer – and that’s a good thing.

This was the most difficult prophecy I have ever had to speak out (a tear comes to my eye, even as I write this) and no doubt it was a difficult word to receive.

Despite the difficulty, the next week in church, my friend was giving thanks that God had brought peace and mercy into her situation.

She encouraged everyone to share whatever they hear from God, because we don’t always know or understand how he wants to bless his people.

Golden Rule Helps With Timing

You see, there’s one aspect of prophecy that doesn’t get discussed very much, but it’s crucial to be effective:

Timing.

When you share a prophetic word is just as important as what you share – and how you share it.

And sometimes, the best thing to do is not share it at all.

But how do you know which way is right?

Golden Rule: Go With The Spirit

First of all, the best way is the Spirit’s way. Follow the prompting of Holy Spirit and you can’t go wrong.

In the case of my friend, God gave her just what she needed, when she needed it. But she might never have heard it at all, if I hadn’t been obedient to what Holy Spirit told me to do.

One reason why we need to spend lots of time in God’s presence is to learn to discern his voice from the others that bombard us each day. We need to be sure that it is his voice we are hearing, not our own minds.

This is how Jesus operated. It was why he was able to say that he only did what he saw his father doing (John 5:19).

When I prayed for my friend, I needed to be doubly sure, because of the nature of the prophetic word in question. God’s palpable presence was his grace to both of us.

But what happens when you receive a word but don’t get this sense of his presence, or can’t seem to get much more detail about it?

That’s where the Golden Rule comes in.

The Golden Rule Of Prophecy

The Golden Rule lets you know what to do in pretty much any situation. And the beauty of it, is its simplicity.

The Golden Rule asks 3 questions:

  1. Is it biblical?
  2. Is it loving?
  3. Is it appropriate?

Even if you do have a clear indication from Holy Spirit to share a word, this Rule can help “clinch the deal”.

Let’s say you receive a prophetic word. Or perhaps you get a picture, but you don’t have an interpretation for it.

Here’s how the Golden Rule can work out:

1. Is it biblical?

If a word aligns with scripture, then at the least, you know that it is “good stuff”.

If you are sure a word aligns with the bible, then you will feel a lot more confident about sharing it.

In general, it’s difficult to do any harm by:

  • quoting scripture
  • paraphrasing scripture
  • stating biblical concepts

After all, if it’s in the bible, then we know it originated in God.

However, a scripture quoted with a judgemental attitude or at the wrong moment, may cause all kinds of damage.

A Biblical Picture?

What to do in the case of a picture? On the rare occasion where I have no idea at all of the interpretation, I simply hand it over.

It takes honesty to do this. I usually say something like, “I don’t have an interpretation for you, but here’s a picture for you to pray over”.

If I have the beginnings of an interpretation, then I can consider whether the heart of the message is in line with the bible. Even if a specific bible verse does not come to mind, then it should still match up with biblical principles.

That’s why we need to consider the next two questions, before blurting anything out!

2. Is it loving?

As the bible says, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, then I am just a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).

If the picture or bible verse you want to share is about hell, then it may well be biblical. But it may not necessarily be the most loving thing to share!

Jesus spoke out of a heart of love

Of course, Jesus sometimes spoke judgement on people like the Pharisees. But we know that he always spoke out of a heart of love, even for them.

Jesus was perfectly in tune with his father. He always knew exactly what to say, and when to say it.

Similarly, the father knew that Jesus could be trusted to tell people his most difficult teaching.

For example, Jesus was the only person in the bible to speak explicitly about hell. Indeed, he did so in graphic detail:

No other prophet was trusted with such an important and emotive message.

Jesus was trustworthy and we can be too

Jesus could be trusted because he was completely full of – and overflowing with – the Holy Spirit. And he was fully in tune with his father.

We too can earn more of God’s trust as we learn how to respond to Holy Spirit, more and more. The amazing thing is how much he already trusts us, even when we don’t really know what we’re doing! It’s his grace towards us.

Ask Holy Spirit how to love people

So, ask Holy Spirit how he wants to love the person you’re praying for.

A good rule of thumb is to ask the question, “what would Jesus do in my situation?”. If you’re still not sure, then stick to positive, rather than negative words, if at all possible.

Once we have determined that a specific prophetic word is biblical and loving, we still need to ask one more question:

3. Is it appropriate?

A biblical word may be “good stuff” and a loving word may be what a person needs to hear. But right now may not be the best time for them to hear it.

As I mentioned above, timing is one of the most important aspects of prophecy. To underline this, I repeat my earlier words:

When you share a prophetic word is just as important as what you share – and how you share it.

One way of dealing with this question is to think about it like this:

What is the immediate situation and emotional context of the person you are praying for?

  • If they are seeking prayer for a specific need and the word speaks directly to that need, then it may be a perfectly appropriate and timely prophecy.
  • If they have just received bad news, such as a bereavement, then an unrelated encouragement may be biblical or even loving, but perhaps now is not appropriate.

Another example could be where it becomes apparent that deeper ministry is required. They may need to be referred to a healing or counselling team.

On the one hand, a prophetic word may be just the thing to help someone understand their need for further prayer. However, it may be better to share that word later, or write it down for them to receive during a counselling session.

Effect Of The Golden Rule

When you combine these 3 questions together, the effect of the Golden Rule is to make your path straight.

To summarise, the Golden Rule asks:

  1. Is it biblical?
  2. Is it loving?
  3. Is it appropriate?

Whether or not you get a clear sense of what Holy Spirit wants to do, this rule will help put you in a better place. When you ask these questions, you’ll be able to judge for yourself whether a word can, or indeed should, be shared.

That said, when in doubt, either check with someone you trust, or don’t share it at all.

There is usually time and space for more prayer, to ask God for wisdom. But once a word is spoken, it’s “out in the wild” and it cannot be taken back easily.

However, God is good and he has a mountain of grace for us. If we ask for wisdom, he will give it to us (see James 1:5).

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