How a prophet shares a word they have for someone matters deeply. I never let prophets introduce their words with, “Thus saith the Lord,” because this implies an infallible authority. I realize that Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel all said, “Thus saith the Lord,” when they recorded their prophecies, but they were prophets to kings and to nations. When a prophet says, “The Lord tells me . . .,” that phrase tends to take away a person’s right to question the prophecy. It becomes another form of control. I always encourage prophets to take a humbler route, using a more tentative phrase like, “I think the Lord may be saying . . .”
Similarly, none of us, whether we are prophets or not, should give a critical word to someone unless we have specific permission from the Lord. And then we should do it gently and tactfully (Galatians 6:1). Two pastors whom I did not know came to see me about a problem in their church. I brought a gifted prophet into the meeting. We talked with the pastors for an hour, and then the men left. The prophet did not say a single word. I asked him if he saw anything while we were talking. He said, “Yes, the senior pastor is angry and full of pride. His pride is going to split the church.”
“Why didn’t you speak up?” I asked.
“Because you told me not to give negative words,” he said.
“I did not tell you not to give negative words; I told you to give them gently and tactfully,” I said.
“Well, how do you tell someone tactfully that their pride is going to split the church?” he asked.
“You say something like this: ‘I can tell you really love the church, and you want to do what is right. But some of the people disagree with you. The devil has set a trap for you. He will try to make you so angry with these people that you’ll get into a conflict that can’t be healed, and good people, people you want and need, will leave the church if you give in to that anger instead of listening patiently to the people who oppose you.’ ”
“If you frame the warning like that, it will probably be accepted,” I said. There is always a tactful way to warn someone.
Whenever we are in doubt, remember that the simple rule for giving prophetic words is to ask God’s permission before we give the word. If he says no, obey him. Simple, but it can be so hard to obey when we’re certain that what we’ve seen is true.
Are you interested in learning how to hear the voice of God in your life? This is an excerpt from Jack Deere’s new book, Why I Am Still Surprised by the Voice of God. This is the story of how Jack Deere learned to hear the voice of God and, in doing so, became a friend of Jesus. Now a modern classic, Jack wrote Surprised by the Voice of God over twenty-five years ago. Based on that first book, Why I Am Still Surprised by the Voice of God has been entirely rewritten and includes additional thoughts and insights from a lifetime of hearing God speak. Deere guides you through the Bible to discover the variety of creative, deeply personal ways God still communicates with us today. You’ll learn how God speaks with people apart from the Bible, though never in contradiction to it.
- Groups desiring to learn more about how prophecies, dreams, and visions function
- Individuals wanting to study the biblical foundations for hearing the voice of God
- Churches ready to embrace and experience God speaking in community
In these pages you will:
- Learn through Bible study, compelling first-hand stories, and sound arguments
- Witness the way God carries forth the biblical pattern for speaking to us in contemporary ways
- Be trained to hear and recognize the voice of God in your life