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Personal Prophecy: How Much Can We Trust It?


Bible teacher Eddie L. Hyatt asks: What is the place of personal prophecy in the local church and our lives?

It seems that almost everyone has an amusing or thought-provoking anecdote about an encounter with personal prophecy. For example, a prophet once exhorted me that I no longer had to be concerned about my unsaved little brother. God had revealed to him, he said, that my little brother would be saved and there was no need for any concern. In private, I shared with this “prophet” that I had not been concerned about my little brother because I did not have a little brother. Obviously embarrassed, he replied, “I will have to be more careful.”

The above experience highlighted for me the potential danger of personal prophecy gone awry. An equal danger, however, is when the Church reacts to such extremes and rejects or discourages personal prophecy altogether. In 1 Thess. 5:19-20, Paul gives clear instructions in this regard. Do not quench the Spirit, he says, and Do not despise prophecies (NKJV). In vs. 21 Paul then balances the former two verses by saying, Test all things; hold fast what is good (NKJV). Paul’s approach to prophecy may be described as “openness without naiveté and discernment without judgmentalism.”

In Paul’s instruction on prophecy throughout his letters, several key guidelines emerge that are particularly relevant to personal prophecy: (1) It is given as the Spirit wills; (2) It is given for confirming and encouraging; (3) It is given as a free gift of grace; and (4) It is given to glorify Christ.

Prophecy Is Given As the Spirit Wills

Paul is very clear in 1 Cor. 12:11 that prophecy, along with other gifts discussed in this passage, are given as the Spirit wills. These are not gifts that a person carries and operates at his own will, but manifestations that come forth as the Spirit wills.

Recently my wife, Susan, and I were in our van about to back out of our driveway when the Holy Spirit interrupted us. As she was about to shift into reverse, Sue was suddenly aware of an inner compassion flowing out to our next-door neighbor who was working in her yard. We had only recently moved into this house and this neighbor, upon discovering that we were Christians, introduced herself as a backslidden preacher from Brooklyn, NY. We did not attempt to discuss our faith with her and in the succeeding days sought merely to be good neighbors.

On this day, with a sense of God’s compassion reaching out to our neighbor, Sue called her by name—“Adele!!” Upon hearing her name, Adele walked over to the side of our vehicle. Without a prior sense that it was coming, Sue broke forth with an utterance in tongues. I leaned across the seat and spoke the interpretation which was a personal word of prophecy to Adele, “My daughter, you are precious in my sight.” Adele burst into tears and then into praying in tongues. We had a mini-revival right there in our driveway. What a powerful experience it was, facilitated by a personal prophecy that came forth, not as we willed, but as the Spirit willed.

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Category: Spirit, Winter 2007

About the Author: Eddie L. Hyatt, D.Min. (Regent University), M.Div. and M.A. (Oral Roberts University), serves the body of Christ around the world by teaching with academic excellence and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He has authored several books, including 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity. His passion is to see authentic spiritual awakening transform the Church and impact the world in the Twenty-first century.

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