Some people set a standard for prophetic people that they always be 100% accurate or they should be stoned. What is ironic about this is that the same people who suggest this standard often consider real prophecy and prophets to be people who interpret the Book of Revelation and those people are almost always wrong! Yet you don’t hear them saying that these people should be put to death, or are not false prophets because of it. Last year, Godly people who I respect got all worked up about the Blood moons, and then the Shemitah. I told them frankly that nothing was going to happen and not to get worked up about it. In fact, I had someone chew me up and down for doubting these “prophets of God.” No one is claiming now that they are “false prophets” who should be stoned even though they clearly issued a false prophecy. It’s a funny double standard isn’t it?
First of all, in the New Testament we don’t stone people, we correct them, and failing that, we excommunicate them. Secondly, we live by a different system. We live by grace, not by the law. The letter of the law kills, but the Spirit brings life. (2 Cor 3:6) When we live according to the New Testament, we apply the Spirit of the law, not the letter. And the Spirit of the law is that a prophet who speaks must be exalting Jesus, and must be speaking by the Holy Spirit, not some other spirit. If he is speaking by the Holy Spirit, he will be accurate. If we find someone speaking by another spirit, we will find that they do not exalt Jesus, and we will find that what they say does not come to pass.
But all of that is not the subject of this post. The question is during the New Testament era, why do even the best prophets miss sometimes? In discussing prophecy, Paul makes this 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, some to a great dimension, and some very dimly. And the fact is that when you are looking through a glass dimly, sometimes you misperceive things. You see a shadowy figure in the glass… is that your mom or is it your son? It’s hard to tell, unless you polish the glass more. By that I mean work on your relationship with God. Turn off every input from the world, and meditate on his love for you and for others. For hours. A day. As you do this, your prophetic insight will increase noticeably. Also, I recommend practicing on a loved one. This can be a very low risk way to sharpen up.
One popular teaching states that many prophets are not really prophesying, by they are 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 and so it stifles both the would-be prophet and the recipient. It does hint at one reason why prophets miss however — you can be fooled by someone’s idol. An idol is a self-deception — something false that the person genuinely believes, and it is also a mask in the Spirit. So when you prophesy, you can be tempted or even fooled into prophesying in accordance with what the person believes about themselves instead of the reality. To be a true prophet, you must have the courage to cut down idols, this courage will allow you to see through them. The Lord showed me that this was the reason for a couple of misses that I had. Related to this is if you have an idol of your own. For example, you may 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.