Because of the spiritual nature of our church services mature leadership is a must. We offer the following guidelines for prophetic operations during local church services and give examples of general prophetic error. Again, these are incomplete and suggested. They may change according to your particular church’s leadership and culture.
1. CAREFUL WITH “GOD SAID”
You have probably heard someone preface a prophecy with the words, “God said.” It can be used so often that we become callous to the saying and don’t pay much attention to it. There are times when God speaks prophetically, yet there are other times when God doesn’t say anything. If you are not sure that God said anything then say something like, “I sense that God is saying.” Later in this essay, we will give examples of people that used those words, “God said,” inappropriately.
2. BECOME A KNOWN PROPHETIC MINISTER
Become a known prophetic minister within your local church under the approval of the church’s leadership.
David sinned by arranging the death of a faithful servant Uriah and taking his wife Bathsheba. In response, the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to tell the king a story of a stingy, rich man that robbed a poor defenseless man of his only pet lamb. After hearing this “David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth the man that hath done this thing shall surely die and he shall restore the lamb fourfold because he did this thing and because he had no pity.” Nathan responded to David, “Thou art the man” (1 Samuel 12).
This was a dangerous prophetic meeting. Any prophet other than Nathan could have been killed for such a prophecy. Nathan, however, had a personal relationship with David. Because Nathan was a recognized prophetic voice in David’s life he received Nathan and repented of his sin.
I attended a special church service with a prophet from our ministry. After service, we were invited to a private dinner with some veteran ministry gifts. The prophet with me wanted to share a prophetic word with the leaders at the dinner. I wouldn’t let him for several reasons. First, I didn’t have a witness in my spirit to the word. Second, he was a young prophet in training. Next, the timing was inappropriate and the topic sensitive. Finally, he would not have been received as a prophetic voice since he was unknown to these particular leaders. When it comes to personal prophecy, prophetic ministry gifts are “better received” when they are recognized as from the Lord. This is the lesson we learn from the relationship between Nathan and David.
3. KNOW THOSE THAT LABOR AMONG YOU
As already said if a person is a ministry gift from Christ set in the local church that ministry gift should be recognized by the local pastor or set man. If the local pastor or set man does not recognize a person as a prophetic gift, then that individual is not sent as a prophetic voice to that particular congregation. I present this as proper order. Scripture says, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you” (1 Thessalonians 5:12). Some come like sheep to our churches acting like prophets who are ravening wolves. We can only know them by their fruits.
“Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15-16)
It takes time to know people by their fruit. The only plant that grows fast in a garden is a weed. We are not judging one’s salvation but we are rightfully inspecting their fruit. Pastors are responsible to know their flock. This also includes those allowed to labor prophetically. Scripture confirms this, “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks and look well to thy herds” (Proverbs 27:23).
4. USE CAUTION WITH AMBIGUOUS PROPHECIES
Ambiguous prophecies can be confusing and are open to many interpretations. Use caution with them. Remember not everyone that comes into a local church came for the same reason you did.
“I appeal to you, brethren, to be on your guard concerning those who create dissensions and difficulties and cause divisions, in opposition to the doctrine (the teaching) which you have been taught. [I warn you to turn aside from them, to] avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites and base desires, and by ingratiating (good words) and flattering speech, they beguile (deceive) the hearts of the unsuspecting and simpleminded [people].” (Romans 16:17-18 AMP)