Have you even been in a place where you heard words that seemed foreign to you? I am not referring to someone speaking in a foreign language or speaking in tongues. What I mean is: have you ever heard someone say something about you that seemed totally “out of the box”? I have.
In the 1970s I was in a prayer meeting. During the meeting a man told me he thought he had a word for me, he thought I was going to be involved in writing. Wow, a prophetic word, how exciting, right? If this happened today I would likely pay some attention to it because I have learned some things about prophecy over the years.
At that time I was not very impressed, what he said did not seem very likely. I did not like reading let alone writing! In fact, I thought that this man was projecting what he did for work on to me. You see this man wrote for one of the local newspapers. So what do you do with a situation like this? How should you respond if what is said seems highly unlikely? Do you just dismiss it?
The Bible demonstrates that God has done a lot of things that have seemed unlikely. For example, He gave a couple of dreams to Joseph which indicated that he would become a prominent person (Gen. 37: 5-11). As his life unfolded it did not look like it was going to happen. However, Joseph did eventually rise to become second in charge in the land of Egypt (Gen. 41:43).
Through the prophet Isaiah the Lord predicted that a virgin would have a child and it happened (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:21-23). These events, recorded in the Bible, were major events, the experience from my own life is small by comparison. But what do you do with a situation like the one that I had?
Well one thing I could not do was check the word that was given to me against the Bible. I can think of nothing in Scripture which indicates that God is against writing as a practice or occupation. It is not a moral issue; it is not in and of itself sinful. In addition, my name is not in the Bible with a complete list of all I am supposed to do with my life directly set forth.
After the man delivered the word to me, I did not pursue writing, I did not try to make it happen. As I said above, I did not even think the word was accurate. So, I did nothing about it. In one sense what I did was wait, though it was not a conscious decision on my part. I just went on with my life. You can do this too but I would suggest that you engage in a more active waiting.
If you receive a personal prophetic word, weigh it and watch to see if it starts to come to pass. If you are more serious about it, in addition to waiting, you can also pray about it. If the word rings true to you I am sure that you will pray about it!
I did not give much thought to that word over the years. But about eighteen years later I submitted an article for publication and it was accepted. That article was published in 1994 in a magazine that was put out by the denomination that I am part of. As time went on I continued to write for them and then began to have other opportunities. I contributed articles to a journal for Pentecostal and Charismatic ministry leaders.
As of today I have written for the journals of two seminaries, an academic journal, and an online journal for Pentecostal pastors. I have had some of my writing published overseas, in India and Indonesia. In addition to the articles and book reviews I have written, I have contributed chapters to books, and written a few books of my own. I did not believe the word I received in the 1970s, but I believe it now.
So how long do you wait for a word to be fulfilled? That is a good question. Some of the things the Lord revealed prophetically in Scripture took a very long time before they were fulfilled. The one truth we can take away from the prophecies of Scripture and from my experience is that the gift of prophecy is real. God can reveal what is yet to come, He did it in the lives of many of His servants, and He can do it for you as well. So “Do not treat prophecies with contempt, but test them all; hold on to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:20-21 NIV). They may reveal your future and they also have the potential of encouraging you in your present labor for the Lord (see 1 Tim. 1:18).
John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Western Connecticut State University, Zion Bible Institute, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME). He is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies and has twenty years of pastoral experience.