How do we properly receive a prophetic word?
A prophetic word can be a very powerful experience. There are two types of prophetic words. The first is one meant for congregation within a service. The Holy Spirit speaks to the entire congregation. It applies to you personally sometimes but mostly applies to the whole church in their situation.
There is also a personal or private word that can be given by a prophet. A person with the gift of prophecy might speak a word over you. What do you do when the Holy Spirit speaks through another person?
Receiving a Corporate Prophecy
Paul gives direction for orderly use of the gifts in 1 Corinthians 14. He specifically speaks to the issue of prophets using their gift (1 Corinthians 14:29-33a). The prophetic gift must be used when:
- Up to two or three prophets give a word.
- Others with the prophetic gift weigh what is prophesied.
- They have the ability to stop for another revelation.
- They control their prophetic gift so that everyone can learn and be encouraged.
- They avoid confusion through orderly practice.
The congregation follows these steps to assure that people can respond to the prophetic word. Most prophetic words offer a call to action at the end. If they don’t, the pastor or leadership often apply the prophetic word to the congregation and called them to action.
Whatever the word concerns, that is what you must address in your personal life. It is a word of encouragement, comfort, edification, or even correction. However it is given is how you must apply it to your situation.
But it is also a word for the entire congregation. The congregation should respond by doing whatever the call to action demands. If it is repentance, then the church must repent. If it is encouragement in the midst of suffering, then the church should feel encouraged.
You should thank the Lord for bringing this word and issue to your attention. A prophetic word is always meant to strengthen and build up the church.
Receiving a Personal Prophecy
This is also an acceptable practice within the church. Paul received a prophetic word from Agabus on the way to Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-14). There are times when the Spirit wants to speak to you through a prophet personally.
The prophetic word should be taken kindly and pondered. Don’t just let it slip away. You may even want to write the prophecy down so that you can ruminate on it and ask the Spirit for guidance.
I have received personal words that came true and were powerful in my life. I’ve had prophetic words spoken over me by people who didn’t know my situation and yet spoke directly to it. These are powerful words. I knew it was the Spirit speaking.
And I have had a few words that didn’t seem to be directed toward me. How do you react to it if you don’t believe it’s for you? You take it kindly from the person using their gift. If you are in a place of leadership, you address the situation with that person privately and with love.
If you are not in leadership, it depends on how the leadership would want to deal with that situation. Some churches may have a policy on how to deal with gifts that may be used out of order. Other churches may not. Follow whatever guidelines are put in place or ask the leadership about the situation.
No matter what you decide to do with the prophetic word, receive it with grace and kindness. Whether it is thoroughly confirmed by the Holy Spirit to you or not, everyone is using their gifts to God’s glory. Even those who are still learning how to use their gift must step out when the Spirit prompts.