God encourages, exhorts and blesses His people by bringing in prophecy to the church. This is one of the ways that He speaks directly to His beloved people. Prophecy can be communicated by God using an individual of the church or by bringing in a minister that he chooses.
As God speaks through His prophecy to a church, so too can an individual be spoken to by God. There are many Christians who are eager to hear what God has to say and hence will seek someone who can communicate to them a personal prophecy from God. These very people who are so eager to hear the words from God, will ignore many times the opportunities that God gives them to hear Him through His Word or prayer.
HOW IS A PERSONAL PROPHECY RECEIVED
There are various ways in which a prophecy is received by different people who have been anointed prophetically. Although the various ways achieve the same goal, the method may vary as per the individual. Certain prophets (those who have the prophetic gift) will hear the prophecy within themselves by way of words. While others may see visions or images that foretell a situation. Still some might see the prophecy by way of printed words as though on a screen.
Usually the prophecy will be incomplete, and it does not matter how it was received by the individual. God does not show all details of a personal life or the complete details that comprise a situation. The information will be just enough for dealing with what God intends to say.
It is often seen that the prophecy is allegoric by nature. Jesus often told parables to teach people and God has a similar way of speaking. This hold true when God is communicating through a vision and the images may not have any direct bearing to the concerned situation, but will be speaking directly and meaningfully to the needs of the person.
A prophecy usually comprises of three parts. Initially there is the vision or word which God communicates. God of course will be speaking accurately, but hearing Him accurately may not take place.
Even when God is correctly heard in a prophecy, the interpretation of such prophecy may be incorrect. It is easy to look at the prophecy given by God and come to conclude it wrongly. This is no fault of the prophecy, but our misunderstanding. You need to make sure to get the prophecy and not just what is interpreted. When you do this, you can always reexamine the prophecy if what is interpreted has come wrong.
Prophetic error mostly lies in interpretation and not in the prophecy. If you have received a word of prophecy that seems inaccurate, then examine the prophecy given originally and try to find the correct interpretation.
Sometimes the error of interpretation is not committed by the prophet, but by the one who receives it. God may proclaim that you are going to have a son by the name of David. Now a woman who is pregnant will think in terms of the child she carries. But it might be that God is communicating about a child that is going to be born after this or in the future. You have to be careful not to read things that God has not actually mentioned in the prophecy.
THE CONDITIONAL NATURE OF PROPHECY
All prophecy has to be acted upon by the recipient. Even when the prophecy lacks specific instructions, still some action is implied to be done by the recipient. If the action that God intends the person to take has to be determined, then the prophecy has to be examined by a senior member of the church and must be understood in context with the life of the person.
If we see the scriptures, God has always given a promise where some action is required in return. Usually such promises of God are with the words “if” and “then”. For example – If we follow what God has said then certain blessings of His will come our way.
God does not change. All blessings are given conditionally and it is upon us to obey and do the actions required by Him, that such blessings be received.
PERSONAL PROPHECY CAUTION
When the prophecy is directive, that is when it gives directions to you to act in a certain manner, it always has to be in confirmation to what God has already instructed you. It should not be taken as a new direction. If you feel that the prophecy is giving you new direction then it is best not to act on it, and keep it pending on a shelf, and see how God intends to guide you.
A “shelf of prophecies” is needed by all, to store the words of God that are going to be fulfilled in future. Quite a few people jump into action as soon as they get any directions from God. Such may not be His will always. Sometimes directions are given much before the time appointed for such actions as God is revealing His plan gradually. This is so because God likes us to see where he is leading us and is not meant to take immediate action. Many ministries are failing because they act ahead of the timing ordained by God.
The scripture should be considered while judging a prophecy and one should wait to see what timing God has ordained. When the time is right it shall come to pass.