I enjoy prophecy. Whenever I prophesy over someone it gives me the opportunity to get a glimpse of how God sees him or her, and it has the ability to shift my perspective toward him or her as well. While it has other uses, including foretelling of things to come, most prophecy is geared toward encouraging people to continue moving forward in life, strengthening them for tasks ahead, and comforting them, as seen in 1 Corinthians 14:3. Many times we might will receive a prophetic word that tells us of the great plans God has for our future, but five, ten, or even twenty years later we find ourselves wondering what happened–why did that prophecy never come to pass? Certainly it is possible someone was incorrect when they spoke, but that is not the only option. I suggest something that is less understood is the conditional nature of prophesy.
I remember a message I heard a speaker share once. I forget who the speaker was, but I do recall he had a reputation as a prophet. He told a story of when he met with a couple who were trying to have a baby and were having difficulty. I don’t even think that was the reason for his meeting, but the Lord spoke to him and instructed the prophet to tell them they were going to have a baby. He began an internal dialogue with the Lord, basically arguing that he didn’t want to say it knowing the trouble they were already having, and not wanting to give them any false hope or encouragement. What the Lord responded back was, “If you don’t say it, it will not happen.”
The term self-fulfilling prophesy is in some ways redundant because the whole reason it even works is because the prophetic utterance carries power with it to accomplish the thing prophesied. When God told that prophet the word was conditional based on whether he said it or not, that is because prophecies carry power and are conditional. If we never release the word to begin with, no power is sent out to make it happen. However, even if we do give the word, there is still no guarantee it will come to pass. Why is this?
We have to remember that we are in a spiritual battle with forces of darkness who oppose us. If prophecy was a guaranteed once-and-done thing, we would simply prophesy everything into existence, once, instead of having to pray over things time and again. The devil and his minions are in the business of destruction, and whenever they can stop God’s will from coming to pass in our lives, they will. This is one of the main reasons we have to pray–and not just pray, but persevere in prayer until the things God has said to us come to pass. So much goes on in the unseen realm that we have to push forward in prayer until we see the answer manifest.
When I hear God tell or show me something, it is not a guarantee that it will come to pass. It is actually an invitation to experience an optional reality, and I have a part to play in whether that reality occurs or not. I like to think of it from a perspective where I imagine my decisions on a timeline as being like a road or path. Imagine that as we walk, every time we come to a fork in the road there are a billion choices of which path to take. On the majority of these paths, things will be largely the same—gravity will still be in effect, the sun will still rise and fall, and we will still have to pay taxes. Some of the things that change, however, are ones that can be decided by prayer and prophesy. If all we do is hear a prophetic word once, the power from that prophetic word will cause some of those roads to blink out of existence—negative outcomes that were prevented through the utterance. However, there are still the greater part of a billion paths left to take, so how do we know which ones will get us to the desired result?
If we stopped at that single prophecy, there really is no guarantee. If we pray into that reality, however, more and more of those paths that won’t bring us the desired result blink out, until all the road that are left are guaranteed to give us that which we seek. Eventually, it doesn’t matter which road we take because all of them are the right one.
Did you ever think about why there are so many prophecies about the coming of the Messiah? I think it was due to the conditional nature of prophecy–if God simply said it once, there is no guarantee it would happen, but as the timeline continued forward He spoke again and again throughout the ages to constantly shift the events that needed to be changed until it brought forth the reality God desired on our behalf.
Seeing a prophecy fulfilled is actually not just about prayer either—it involves action. If I receive a word about becoming a business owner, (and we assume for the sake of this example that it was an accurate prophecy), what happens if all I do is sit there and wait for a business to drop in my lap? I suppose I could inherit it somehow, but if none of my family are business owners then that isn’t a likely outcome. Rather, God is inviting me to come walk with Him on the matter; to join Him in the pursuit. I need to take practical steps to set up the business–coming up with a plan and carrying it out, but all within the context of praying it into existence and continuing to seek God’s wisdom, favor, and blessing as I set out to do what He has given me to do.
The conditional nature of prophesy is only a hindrance to those who don’t understand it—but once we grasp that God is actually wanting to partner with us it becomes more meaningful, and more real. What prophetic words have you received in the past that you are still waiting to come to pass? How can you pray, joining your faith with God’s will for you? What physical actions can you take to work toward that which you seek? Continue to ask, seek, and knock, because as Matthew 7:8 says, “For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Grace and peace to you as you engage the will of the Lord!