We need to have the fear of the Lord about our prophetic words. It is a great privilege to hear God speak to us, and we should reverence every word that He speaks. But there is a tendency to fall into pride when we hear from Him frequently. It’s all about Him, not about us. We must not forget that. When we do, we fall into misuse and abuse of the prophetic word.
Here are some ways that prophecy can be wrongly used:
Validating self – When we release a prophetic word, and later on it comes to pass, if we feel we have to remind everybody that we had prophesied it, we’ve got a problem. “I heard that!” “I had that one first!” “Do you remember that I said that was going to happen, back three months ago?” We are trying to build up our own importance. This is self-glorification, and it smells bad to those around us.
Manipulating through personal prophecy – When we want someone to do something we think they ought to do, it is mighty convenient to have a “word from the Lord” to nudge them in the “right” direction.
Many years ago, a young woman came to me with a “word from the Lord” for my life. It was that I had my eyes in the wrong direction concerning marriage. God wanted me to focus entirely on Him, and not allow myself to be distracted by the things of this world. She said God wanted to show me a better plan about who I would marry than what I was now seeing. The problem was, she and I were both interested in the same man, and she had perceived me as the competition! Although I’m sure she did not mean to do wrong, and sincerely believed her word was accurate, its effect was to try to manipulate my actions to bring about her desired results. (For those who are curious, I’ve been happily married to that man for thirty years now.)
Even if our word about someone is accurate, if releasing it to the person could be manipulative, it is best to just keep it to ourselves. If it is truly from God it will happen without our help.
Manipulating of leadership – There are more prophetic people than we could ever imagine who secretly want to rule the local church through their prophecies. God gives the vision for the church to the pastor (or the apostle, if apostolic government is in place), not the prophets. This is not well understood by many, and needs to be taught. Prophetic people aid the pastor (or apostle) by submitting what they are hearing. Their words may help him better define the vision God is giving him, but finding the vision for the church is not the prophet’s domain. For better understanding on this topic, I recommend reading Francis Frangipane’s article, Jezebel’s War Against Spiritual Authority.
Manipulating circumstances to bring about a prophecy’s fulfillment – Self-fulfillment of prophecy is not always possible, of course, but when the decisions others will make are involved, prophetic people are sometimes tempted to try this.
Some years ago, a woman I know had a dream that involved a series of events, culminating in a person she knew leaving a particular ministry. She told the person about the dream and the incidents that would lead up to his departure. The series of events did happen one-by-one, but, do you see that by planting in the man’s mind what his response should be, she manipulated him and the circumstances? She may have had a real word from the Lord, but by telling him he would leave that ministry when a certain string of events happened, she set him up to make a decision that would fulfill her dream and thereby validate her. Her dream may have been fulfilled anyway, but by releasing her information inappropriately, she manipulated circumstances for a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We will continue discussing misuse and abuse in the next post.
Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual