Some influential Christians have said prophetic people need to 100% accurate or they should be stoned. Yet some of these same ministers have permitted false interpretations of the End Times to circulate, without calling those prophets wrong. Last year, godly people whom I respect got very worked up about the Blood Moons and the Shemitah. But no-one is claiming now that those they listened to are false prophets who should be stoned, even though they clearly issued a false prophecy. It’s a funny double standard isn’t it?
In the New Testament, Jesus illustrated that we don’t stone people, we correct them. In the most extreme cases, following Paul’s example, excommunication may have to occur. We live by a different system: by grace, not by the Law. The letter of the Law kills, but the Spirit brings life. (2 Cor 3:6). The spirit of the law in the New Testament is that a prophet who speaks must be exalting Jesus, and must be speaking by the Holy Spirit, not some other spirit. If someone speaks by another spirit, we will find that they do not exalt Jesus, and what they say does not come to pass.
But then this leads us to ask, if they are speaking by the Holy Spirit, how can prophets miss sometimes? In discussing prophecy, Paul makes a helpful statement in 1 Corinthians 13: “For now we see through a glass darkly.” If you are born of the Spirit, you are able to see into the Spirit realm to some degree. You may see to a great dimension, or you may see very dimly. When you are looking through a glass dimly, sometimes you may misperceive things. You see a shadowy figure in the glass… is that your mom, or is it your son? It’s hard to tell, so you have to polish the glass more.
Working on your relationship with God is one way to polish the glass. If you turn off every input from the world, get into the Word, and meditate on His love for you and for others–for hours, days, weeks, etc.–as you do more of this, your prophetic insight may increase noticeably. Find a trusted friend, or a loved one you can practice praying over as you get into this love flow with God. They can tell you when your revelation increases, and they will not mind when you need to tune-up a bit.
One popular teaching out there states that many prophetic people are not really prophesying, but offering psychic readings from the “soul realm.” This is a destructive and accusatory teaching. It equates something from God — a prophetic gift, with something from the devil — a psychic reading. No godly person wants to have anything to do with anything evil, so this accusation stifles both the prophetic minister and receiver.
Another reason why prophetic ministers may miss the mark is being fooled by someone’s idol. An idol is a self-deception — something false that the person genuinely believes. It is like a mask in the Spirit. When a minister prophesies, they can be tempted or even fooled into prophesying in accordance with what the person believes about themselves–the mask, instead of the reality. To be prophetic, you must have the courage to confront idols. This courage will allow you to see through them. Prophetic ministers may also have an idol of their own that can trip them up by praying. One common example is if you enjoy the feeling of playing matchmaker! This can lead you to see a match that does not exist.
Another reason why you can miss, is that you connect too many dots with your own mind. As the Lord begins to show us things, we have to piece that together into something coherent to tell the person. Sometimes we make assumptions about the person, and start to leap ahead of the revelation. For example, if you assume they are married, or poor, etc, that might influence what you think a revelation means. The end result is a true revelation is all gummed up by what you assumed to be true about the person. I have learned to slow down and either ask the Lord for clarity, or if necessary I will even ask the person a specific question before I continue. For example, recently I saw a woman with a daughter. I knew she had recently had a baby. So I asked if she had had a boy or a girl. When she said it was a boy, then I knew the picture I saw was about a baby that was coming, so I spoke to that, it was exactly on target. I could easily have given a wrong prophesy had I rushed it.
Another reason why a prophet may miss, is that they are not very spiritually mature, or have bad theology. Just because you are prophetic, doesn’t mean you have correct theology. Whatever you receive from God is going to be filtered through what you believe about Him. This is super common with words about the fate of the nation. People’s views of the end times and politics inevitably shade what they prophesy. They have failed to discern the times, so whatever God shows them gets siphoned into their pre-arranged and incorrect ideas about what he is doing.
Also, you may be moving out beyond your faith. I have honestly not had this experience a lot though. The further out and more specific I get, the more it seems to come to pass. This can become a bit freaky. When you start to move out into really specific stuff, you realize there is no room to hide. Either you will be wrong, or you will be embarrassed and potentially hurt people. But for me, I get a lot of time frames, but I have never gotten a specific name, except in a dream. If I move out and start to try and prophesy names, I’m beyond the level of my current faith and gifting and I know that. However, if I stretch for an age or a time frame, the odds are that it is correct, even if it is scary for me to give it. I’ve seen ages at when things happened to people, amounts of money that were accurate, and similar. I keep a journal of when God fulfills these things, because I need to read it to encourage myself later if I miss something.
So those are the big ones: idols, assumptions, bad theology, weak relationship with God, and moving beyond your level of gift. These are all ways that true prophets — and every true born again believer can prophesy at some level — can be wrong. So don’t get discouraged when you miss as if you are not hearing from the Lord, ask the Lord to help you tune up.