As I said in Part One, it is often wise to wait on making prophetic revelation public, so that we’re sure we have the whole of what God wants to say through us. Revelation and its understanding tend to come in pieces.
First, we need to weigh what we have heard or seen to make sure it is really coming from the Lord, not our own imaginations, fears, or hang-ups. Once we are certain we have received something from Him, our next step should be to seek Him for the correct interpretation and application. Interpretations and applications are higher steps in making prophecy useful to the Body of Christ. We can ask the Lord questions such as:
“What specific events or situations are you speaking of? Who is this meant for?”
When I first began releasing things I was hearing, I often blundered in believing my revelation was specifically for our local church. Sometimes what I said was not received favorably, because it did not always fit with the inner witness of our leaders. What I did not understand then was, more often than not, I was hearing about the American Church at large, not specifically our local fellowship. It was only when I saw a few well-known prophets saying the same things — sometimes down to the last word in a sentence or phrase — that I realized what was really going on. What a huge relief! I was not “off” in my hearing after all. I had merely misapplied who it was for.
A still more common mistake is to apply to others a word God is speaking to us personally, and only to us. We eagerly prophesy it for the local church, thinking it’s for everyone else. This tends to happen especially when it is a corrective word which our flesh isn’t keen on hearing and applying personally. Revelation certainly can have an application beyond ourselves, but we should make sure God intends that before releasing a personal word as a one-size-fits-all prophecy.
“What is the timing — now or later?”
This can be really hard to discern, even for seasoned prophets.
Several years ago, a respected national prophet released a dream he’d had about California, which depicted a coming destructive earthquake of massive proportions. He strongly exhorted God’s people to leave California immediately. Of course, this information and the resulting advice was very upsetting to many California believers.
Meanwhile, I was personally hearing that revival and awakening were coming to California. Abundant fruit for the kingdom of God would come forth from that state. There would be a great shift in the ideology of Californians. I was also hearing to pray for an end to the severe physical drought going on there, and that the spiritual drought would also come to an end by the “rains” of the Spirit being poured out on that state.
Now, this messes with my mind extremely, to be hearing the seeming opposite of what time-tested, well-known prophets are hearing! My inclination is to think, “Lee Ann, you are just plain nuts!” But I asked the Lord about it, since I felt such an urge to pray blessings in upon California. He responded, “He [the well-known prophet] is seeing into the long-term future, while you are praying into My purposes for the shorter term.” The light bulb went on. It was not about one or the other hearing wrongly; it was about timing.
Unprecedented rains did come a few months later, and they continue to come in abundance. Currently, there are also some early signs of revival breaking out in a few places. The fullness of what God wants to pour out on California is still in its beginning stages.
“What if I continue to not understand or be certain of my revelation?”
Sometimes a word or vision will press on us, but understanding continues to elude us. We’re in good company. The prophets in the Bible often could not grasp what they were seeing, either. Some Bible prophecies are still awaiting fulfillment. This is just the way God works!
God may show us what our revelation is about at a later date, if we give it time. Or, it could be that He wants us to get the input of other trusted prophetic people. While we may have the actual word, how to interpret it may be given to someone else. Still another person may receive divine insight about how to apply it. In the New Testament body of believers, we are meant to work together, assisting each other in the ministry of spiritual gifts. We generally do not receive the whole counsel of God by ourselves. Even collectively, we are not always given the entire picture. The apostle Paul said, “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. … For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:9, 12).
As we continue to seek the Lord, trusting Him to purify what we hear and see, we will gain clarity and keener discernment. God has chosen to make revelation and the understanding of it a process to draw us into greater dependence upon Him. Our nature conforms to His as we learn to submit our imperfect prophetic leanings into His care. It’s a beautiful journey together with Him.