STEWARDING THE PROPHETIC WORDS GOD GIVES US – INDIVIDUALLY AND CORPORATELY
by Lyn Packer
When God speaks a prophetic word over a person, church, community or nation, He is looking for something – a response from us. He is looking for our belief, trust, faith and co-operation in order for that word to come to pass. He is looking for us to steward well the word He gives us.
There are some prophetic words that are sovereign and will happen no matter what, like the ones given about Jesus coming back, but most prophetic words involve the cooperation of mankind in some way.
So how do we treat a prophetic word? Are there steps and keys to follow in order for it to happen? Sometimes I wish there were, but no, there is no formula that will guarantee a prophetic word’s fulfilment. Each prophetic word must be weighed and acted on according to God’s instructions and timetable. Prophetic words speak to our potential but they are not a ‘fait accompli’; they are dependent on us cooperating with God to become that person and fulfil that destiny.
God sees us and speaks from our possible future into our present.
Graham Cooke says, “God gives you a future oriented prophetic word so that you will take hold of that and in faith pull it into your now.” In other words our prophetic words are not carrots dangled before us as something way out there in our future, but God shows us those things because He has already qualified us as ministers of the New Covenant to walk in them in our now.
Here’s a common misunderstanding about prophetic words – some people mistakenly believe that a prophetic destiny word from God will automatically happen, that they don’t have to do anything but sit back and wait for it to be handed to them in its fullness. This is often because they read a verse like Isa 55:11, “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” From reading that a person can think that God will make it happen on His own without any involvement from them. When it comes to your life you are not a puppet, a thing to be moved this way and that without consultation. God is a relational God and He works in our lives in consultation with us, so any prophetic word is an invitation to move forward in cooperation with God toward your prophetic destiny. You and God are in a relationship and He honours that. God will bring His promises to pass in your life, but He will not violate the principles of loving relationship to do so. For our destiny words to come to pass there must be a working together for the fulfilment of those words. He does not expect that we will sit on our backsides and do nothing while He does everything.
One aspect of working with God is that we must stand in agreement with Him about our destiny, then we must practise it in the Spirit until it opens up to us in the natural – dream it, see it, decree it, inhabit it and cooperate with God in following the strategies He shows us as we walk into it.
Who are you in your future? That’s what you get to become now in attitude, faith and character. Enter into it, explore it, and discover your next level of faith, favour and authority and you’ll draw your future towards you.
God says, “This is who you are – what I can get you to see is who I can get you to become. Act and think in the way that person would act and think. Begin to think from completeness not lack, from the place of your destiny, not your now.”
What do we do with a prophetic word when we are given one? The following things may be of help in seeing the full potential of your prophetic words realised. This is not a formula, or a hard and fast list, but are some things that I have found helpful.
On being given a prophetic word:
Weigh it up before God. You have as much power in this situation as the person prophesying. Scripture tells us to test /weigh prophecy. Use your discernment and your knowledge of scripture to weigh the word – is it from God or not? Sometimes people can read atmospheres around our lives and speak out of what they perceive instead of by the Spirit of God.
Believe it and embrace it. If, after praying about it, you believe it is from God then receive it, wholeheartedly embrace it. Believe that God would never call you to something you are not capable of achieving with His help. God is not a liar.
Don’t put it on the shelf – Sometimes we may not understand the prophetic word we’ve been given, and the temptation is to “put it on the shelf.” Many times I’ve heard people say that to others – “If you don’t understand it put it on the shelf.” Please, can I advise you, don’t do that. Words that are put on the shelf are generally forgotten. Instead ask God about it, ask Him to clarify it and give you understanding. Ponder on it, carry it in your heart until it becomes clear, ask the person who prophesied, or a leader, if they can give you any insight which will bring clarity. At the same time understand that some things may take time for clarity to form around them, and it may not be until you look back that you see how things fitted together.
Write it out. It is too easy to forget what is said, or to only remember the bits we particularly liked, if we don’t have a written record of it. This is also important when we need to war with it to see it established.
Look for identity statements – either direct or indirect/implied. These are the things God says about you in the prophetic word e.g. direct – “You are my much loved child”; “You are strong and courageous”. Indirect or implied – “I see a picture of the Lord forging steel in your backbone” – implies God will make you into a strong being. Out of these make an identity declaration that you can read, re-read, and declare over yourself, such as – “I am much loved by my Father in Heaven, I am strong and courageous.”
Look for any conditions that God is setting e.g. “As you spend time with Me I will show Myself to you and reveal to you My heart; prepare yourself, dig into My Word and I will reveal My mysteries to you” etc. Determine to give yourself to these things that God is asking of you.
Look for any promises without conditions e.g. “I will reveal myself to you; I will set you on high” etc. If any of these are ambiguous ask the Lord what He means e.g. What does He mean by “I will set you on high”? Is that a position of leadership, or a position indicating good sight? Write them into a declaration of God’s intent, and promise, to speak over your life.
Look for gift or calling indicators – “I am calling you; You will pray for the sick and they will be healed; you will preach to many”; etc With this one you need to ask some questions of yourself and of God:
Ask the Lord – What needs to change in my character and habits to be a person who can walk in and sustain this call? Stocktake your life. Look at your life honestly. What are the hidden things that need to be changed in order for you to become the person in that prophetic word? The parable of the sower comes in to play. The word (prophetic) is the seed. It can be fulfilled 30 fold, 60 fold, 100 fold; it’s up to you.
What training do I need, if any? What do I need to learn, or begin to practice, in orrder to steward this call well?
Look for time indicators – look to see if there are any time indicators contained in the prophetic word. What does God want to do now, and what is a promise for the future?
Believe that the future God has promised you will come to pass. Ask the Lord what needs to happen in the immediate and what you need to do to prepare for the future promise. How long your future stays out there in front of you can depend on some things – How you work on your character, how you cooperate with what the Lord asks you to do. Take hold of your future and, by your obedience and cooperation with the Lord, draw it to you.
Be prepared to pray into, and war with, the words God speaks over you (1 Tim 1:18, 19) How do you war with a word? Verse 19 tells us part of that – holding faith; stand firm in believing the word God gave you, believing it, declaring it over yourself and cooperating with God in the character work and development of the gifts He has given you. Through those things you war on a belief level, and a practical level, to bring you to a place where you become someone who can walk in, and sustain, the promise. Recognise, and push back, the powers of darkness that would seek to tell you it could never happen, that God couldn’t use you. God’s boundaries for us are huge. The devil will always try and place a false boundary around our lives. Watch out for well meaning people who will try to make you see sense (squash the dream). Don’t allow them to talk you out of your destiny.
Submit the word to a trusted mentor or leader. Ask them to pray into it with you. Ask them what things they see in your life that would stop you from fulfilling this word. (Character changes). Get them to pray with you.
Be accountable. Make yourself accountable to others. People who are not accountable generally end up in deception.·
Deal with any unbelief, doubt and fears regarding the word, or God’s fulfilling of it, as they will paralyze you and possibly delay fulfillment of the word. Unbelief is most often rooted in lies that we’ve believed about the nature and character of God, or about ourselves. Ask yourself why you don’t believe that this could happen. What lies do you believe about God, yourself, or the Church?
Speak the word over yourself frequently. Job 22: 28 “You shall decree a thing and it will be established for you.” Pray prophetically over your life. Pray and thank God as if it was already reality in your life; this prepares the way for God to act (towdah – thanksgiving for things not yet received, Psa 50:23). Confession changes the dynamics around your life. Confession marks in the spirit realm, as well as in the natural, where you stand. Confession begins to shape and change your behaviour. Confession releases a motivational drive to live up to your beliefs. There are many other verses, as well, that speak about the importance of our confession.
See yourself doing it. Use your God given imagination. Paul tells Tmothy in 1 Tim 4:12-15 to meditate on the things that God has said over him by prophecy. That word meditate means to frame pictures in your mind or imagination. Your imagination was not given to you just so that you can live in a fantasy world; it is your God-given vision centre. Part of the reason it was given was so that you could dream with God! It is a vitally important part of your spiritual life. It is for dreaming dreams, for seeing into the future, into the potential that God has placed within you, bringing it into the now by your confession and your obedience.
Embrace the Holy Spirit’s training process. A prophetic word is God revealing His desired outcome and plan for you in a certain area. That means from the time that word is given to its fulfilment – everything in between is now designed to test us and train us to become the person that God saw when He spoke over us (Psa 105:19 about Joseph’s word). Graham Cooke says – “The process from prophecy to fulfilment is our training and proving ground, where we cultivate the identity and develop the faith, focus and favour required to move in the Spirit at that level.”
Take steps to get training, if needed. Ask the Lord what training you need to look at doing – is it to learn a language, learn a trade, learn about customs of a country etc? Also realise that He might allow your training to happen through things that you wouldn’t automatically gravitate to – He may make use of adverse life circumstances which teach us things that we will need for the future.
Faithfully do what is already before you. He who is faithful in little will be given much. What about if you’re asked to do something by a leader that you think doesn’t fit in to your plans? Do it with a good heart. We don’t always know exactly what God is going to do through a situation. Your humble obedience will work much in your life. This might just be a part of God’s training plan for you.
Know that God’s timing is accurate in your life. It’s been a while and your prophetic word hasn’t come to pass yet, and you are ‘chomping at the bit’ like a horse that wants to run; be patient! God knows better than you do when the time is right time to release you. Let the peace of God rule your heart and mind. Phil 4:6,7. You can depend on God. He cares for you. 1 Pet 5:7.
Begin to pray into that future now. Pray for those you will minister to, pray for those who will work alongside you, pray for the provision needed for the vision to come to pass. Pray for God to work in your life.
What about when a prophetic word doesn’t seem to come to pass?
You’ve waited on God, enquired of Him about it and now months, or several years, have passed and nothing has manifested. What do you do, how do you process that?
The following are some things to consider -
Potential or God ordained – Most prophetic words about people’s destinies are ‘potential outcome’ words not ‘God ordained, sovereignly fulfilled’ words. What’s the difference between these two things?
A ‘potential outcome’ word is the most common sort of prophetic word given to people. That is, God says, “This is what I want to do for you.” But that word coming to pass is dependent on a few things – the cooperation of the person being prophesied over, the will of others and the cooperation of any others involved in the word’s fulfilment, circumstances coming together, timing, and more. The fulfilment of most prophetic words involves a continual relating to the Lord as you negotiate and walk the path from potential outcome to fulfilled.
Our prophetic destinies usually involve other people working with us to fulfil them. We aren’t meant to ‘go it alone’. We need each other, as scripture says in Rom 12:4-8 and 1 Cor 12:12-31, and other places, too. So that means that sometimes the will of those people needs to align with the will of God, in the timing of God. If for any reason that doesn’t happen it can sometimes mean delays, or even lead to some words being unfulfilled. But even if those people should turn down God’s invitation to be involved in a particular thing, He has others who will say “Yes” to that invitation. So your destiny is not held up or hijacked because a particular person decided not to be a part of that thing. God wants the prophetic words He’s spoken over you to come to pass, and He’s a master at working things out.
A ‘sovereignly ordained’, ‘God fulfilled’ or ‘God established’ word is one where God says, “This is what I am going to do.” In that sort of prophetic word God has chosen by His will that such and such will happen. The choices involved have been made, the cost has been paid, and it is going to happen because it is God’s sovereignty at work.
It can often be hard to discern whether a word is a ‘potential outcome’ word or a ‘sovereignly established’ word. Discerning which it is involves conversation with God, and asking Him about the word, and sometimes submitting the word to others for their wisdom and input as well.
The opposite may happen – There is a saying, “It is always darkest just before the dawn.” Sometimes in the lead up to a prophetic word coming to pass it can seem as if the opposite is happening. In scripture we see this happening to a few people. Samuel anointed David as king but then David was forced to go into hiding for many years as Saul sought to hunt him down and kill him. Moses received a prophetic word from God to deliver God’s people, but that word took years to come to pass. The apostle Paul had a powerful encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, was radically changed and got shown his destiny in God (his prophetic word), but he went through about 10 years following that where things looked the opposite to what had been promised.
Joseph had a promise from God about being a ruler and he got sold into slavery. The devil also had plans for Joseph’s life and that was to derail him from his prophetic promise and destiny. Yet in the midst of all that happened Joseph held on firmly to the promise in his heart, being an honourable man, and God worked it all out so that the prophetic word came to pass at the time when the skills and giftings in Joseph’s life were most needed by Pharaoh and Egypt.
Our perspective – Sometimes we can wait months, or years, for a prophetic word to come to pass and nothing seems to be happening, yet 10 years later we may look back and see things in context and realise that some of it has come to pass, just maybe not in the way we envisaged it would. Sometimes our perceptions and projections mean that we look for a prophetic word to come to pass in a certain way, yet God may bring it to pass in ways we weren’t expecting. A call to teach the word of God may involve platform ministry or it may be fulfilled through teaching our children the wonders contained within the Word of God. If we were expecting its manifestation to be platform ministry then we may miss seeing that it is being fulfilled another way.
Timing – Some prophecies seem like they are never going to come to pass, they seem to take so long. Prophetic words are often giving without a clear sense of timing and we tend to assume that it means a prophetic word is going to happen straight away. We need to seek God about the timing for a word coming to pass, as well as asking for confirmation about the word. Sometimes prophetic words coming to pass are a process of a bit being fulfilled here and another bit there. They don’t always happen in one moment of time. Be prepared for process to take place and time to pass as your prophesies get fulfilled. Become comfortable with process and time.
Metaphor, riddle, symbol, and unclear meanings – Sometimes we will hear a prophetic word and think, “I know what that means,” when it may not mean what we think. Sometimes God uses metaphor, riddle and symbols in the revelations He gives us, and that includes them being used in prophetic words. We must resist the temptation to apply our natural understanding to a word, and we should ask the Lord what He meant by certain phrases. For example God may say something that seems very obvious, such as, “In this next season I am going to bring healing into your life.” If you have a known illness the temptation is to immediately apply the word to that illness, when in fact God may be talking about healing certain childhood wounds, or healing a relationship, or correcting a warped belief and healing you from the effects that belief had on your life. True meanings are often only found through talking things through with God, asking Him, “What did You mean in this statement?”
God’s dreams for you are more than you could ever hope or dream. He wants to see you live a life that is full of rich experience, fulfilment and joy in service. And in all that He longs for you to be the blessing to others that you were created to be, releasing the love and power of the Kingdom of Heaven wherever you go. Choose to embrace all that God has for you; embrace the pioneering spirit that is within you and step out and become all God intends for you to be.
Lyn is recognised as a Prophet within New Zealand and other nations she’s ministered in. Her ministry is revelatory and catalytic, propelling people into encounter with God. The governmental prophetic gift she carries is expressed through prophetic, revelatory insight and strategy, prophetic words (personal, corporate and national), teaching, art, and writing. Click here for more info...