Prophetic Strands

A number of things got me thinking about prophecy – and the different strands there are to what are seen as prophetic statements. I am not thinking here of people misusing a prophetic gift, or people thinking that they are using a prophetic gift when they are not. I am thinking of the times when people are sincerely seeking to pass on something useful to someone else which they see as something that God has given them to pass on.

This is not a lesson in how to prophesy, but rather my observation of the different ways that people communicate. There is a crossover between these different strands, and in prophesying to someone there can be a moving between some of the strands.

I think that identifying which strand is being used can help 1) in receiving positively what is being said (rather than saying “That’s not really a prophetic word.”) and 2) in not mistakenly putting more weight on a “word” than is appropriate (like in saying, “because this has been prophesied, it must happen”).

I have noticed that when people are prophesying, they may not themselves identify which strand they are using (at times they may not even know), and at times they may introduce their prophetic words in ways which are not strictly accurate – (even when what they have to say is good, useful and a blessing), so sometimes giving people an expectation which the “prophetic word” itself does not contain.

Here are some different strands of “Prophecy” (with example statements which might accurately identify them). I accept that strictly speaking, some of them are not really prophecy, but they do get used when people are “prophesying”,

1. Specific, precise words or phrase or picture.

“Here is something that God has given me directly to say to you now.”

These are sometimes delivered in amongst words of another “strand”.

2. What Jesus would say (based on what I know of him and from the examples in the Bible)

“I believe that what Jesus would say to you in this situation is…. You are in a storm, so trust him, do not be afraid and he will take you through.”

3. Blessings, what could be, potential/possibilities as you move and trust in God.

“God wants to bless you and if you will trust him with this situation, you will come through to a new place, you could be doing things that you never thought possible.”

4. Reminders of Biblical truth.

“It’s a new day, the past is dealt with, you can look forward without fear, God wants to use you, has special plans for you. The Lord is your shepherd.”

5. Here’s what I want/wish/hope to see for you, think could be ahead for you.

“I believe that God will bring about what you are looking to him for, and that he will give it to you in his time.”

6. “Seeing” something about the person.

“You are affected by something that happened in the past and you are thinking that things will never change.”

7. “Seeing” a particular vision, scenario, or description in words relating to the person.

“I can see you in a meeting with lots of people and you are…..”

Some more thoughts on prophecy:

1. God speaks to each of us in a personal way which gives us personal encouragement, and he speaks to others in very different personal ways.

He speaks to one in “coincidences”; to another in dreams; to another in daily devotions; to another in bringing people to mind; and, of course, to each of us in quite a number of different personal ways at different times.

2. Our prophesying is affected by/ filtered through who we are, our background, what is in our consciousness / sub-consciousness of the Bible and our life experience, and our picture/word vocabulary.

– So we normally prophesy in our vocabulary of English. (I did have a prophetic word for Lossiemouth Baptist once in the local dialect! – but then it was a dialect that was in my vocabulary). People whose whole Biblical background was in using the AV sometimes prophesied using Thees and Thous . (My) Response to such could be, “That’s not the way God speaks in this century”, but it is probably better to recognise, “Here is what God is saying through this person.”

3. Our prophesying can be affected by our relationship with the people to whom we are prophesying.

Generally speaking, it is easier to prophesy to someone we do not know, and we are probably more likely to be more precise, since we will not include thoughts or be affected by feelings which come from our relationship with them.

(Some of the “strands” of prophesying can be more easily done with someone whose situation we know.)

If we are aware that we can be affected by our relationship with the person, then we can seek to look out for where that might be happening.

4. Since our prophesying can and will be affected by what is in our conscious/ sub-conscious, it is important to keep these areas clear – “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy, think on these things.” Phil 4v4

My advice would be to avoid reading/watching stuff which clashes with your particular calling, as it is likely to bring unnecessary confusion.

5. In the things that we “see” prophetically, while they may be completely accurate, we should be aware that unless they contain some kind of clear time indication, they may refer things that are past, present or future (or any mixture). Recently the thought struck me that something that was prophesied to me some time ago, which sounded like it was for the future, may have been a description of something that has already happened. I have a past experience which it could be an accurate description of!

6. When using in prophecy reminders of Biblical truth, we should be careful to consider its appropriateness.

I have never heard anyone point out that the verse “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord……” is telling the people to get used to the idea that they are going to be seventy years in Babylon before they will come back to the promised land!”

Also while “You’re in a storm. Don’t be afraid, trust Jesus and he’ll get you through” might be a Biblical idea, we should keep in mind that God may be saying to the person, “You are in a storm because you got in a boat that I told you not to, you need to start going in the opposite direction with the wind rather than against it!”

7. Very useful piece of advice I heard some years ago – Just because you see it, doesn’t mean that you should say it.

8. We prophesy in part – That is not meaning that we should expect to be inaccurate, but rather to recognise that whatever we see/ say will be incomplete. We will not know the whole story.

Now we see through a glass darkly – a misty mirror, so some of our prophesying will be a bit fuzzy round the edges – but useful nevertheless!

9. We should not make too much of people with prophetic gifting.

For a variety of reasons, many of which we will never know, I know examples of prophets – even “good” “high profile” respected ones – who have sometimes got it wrong.

Some whose prophecies have been accurate when using their prophetic gifting have lives that were in a mess.

10. It is of utmost importance, not only that we have been called to prophesy – but to whomwe have been called to prophesy.

An accurate prophetic word or picture given to the person or people for whom it is intended is a very helpful ministry to them (whether they recognise it or not!).

An accurate prophetic word or picture given to someone or to a group or church or whoever for whom it was not intended can be an extremely unhelpful ministry to them, even though it was a message that came from the Holy Spirit.

Mistakes are made by people who do receive revelation from the Holy Spirit but then do not accurately discern to whom the word/picture/ vision is meant to be given.

In Revelation chapters 2 and 3 Jesus had things he wanted to say to the Church – but he did not send just one letter. He sent seven different messages to the seven different churches. They were all messages from Jesus, but if John had sent to Laodicea the letter meant for Smyrna, it would have given them a completely wrong view of how Jesus viewed them and what he was saying to them.

11. We should be careful to stay within the boundaries of the revelation that we have received.

Sometimes people hear something from the Holy Spirit but then in passing it on, add to it or give explanations according to their understanding or viewpoint which is not what the Holy Spirit is saying, and so the message is distorted.

Sometimes the way that the Holy Spirit operates is to give someone a picture or word that they do not and cannot understand, but then when that picture or word is shared with the person the Holy Spirit gave it for, that person knows exactly what the Holy Spirit is saying to them because it links to something personal to them which the person who received the word/picture could not have known.

12. Sometimes prophetic pictures or words that seem to us very insignificant have can have important implications later.

If we are not aware of the meaning or the application of what we have received, it is good to keep a note of it and think about it over time.

Sometimes it can later coincide with a statement or revelation through another person, or it can lead to an unexpected and unlikely journey, the oddest of which for me was when the picture of a biscuit in a prayer meeting in London, led, about a year later to sharing a message from Jesus from the Bible with a person in East Berlin (when the Berlin wall still existed).

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