Every week I get at least a handful of digital requests from precious people all over the world desperately seeking a prophetic word. Some come begging. Others come demanding. Still others come with money in hand to buy a prophecy or dream interpretation.
Seriously, this happens just about every day and more than once on most days. It’s an unfortunate symptom of modern-day prophetic ministry—prophetic ministry that has too often taught people to depend on prophets to “go to the throne” and “get a word” for them instead of fulfilling the Ephesians 4:11-16 mandate to equip the saints.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not at all against personal prophecy. In fact, over the next two weeks I’ll be ministering on prophetic promises at my church. I fully expect the Holy Spirit to move. I fully expect many hungry believers to receive prophetic words. Personal prophecy—edifying, exhorting and comforting believers—is vital in this hour.
The Rise of Internet Prophets
But prophetic ministry doesn’t operate like a gumball machine. You can’t put in a quarter—or send an e-mail or Facebook message—and out comes a prophetic word. It just doesn’t work that way. Part of this misunderstanding is rooted in the proliferation of what I call the “Internet prophets.” Some actually take out Google Ads promoting how you can get a personal prophecy (even every day). Others promise a prophetic word delivered to your e-mail inbox for about the price of a tank of gas.
When I see this sort of stuff, it grieves me for two reasons. First, the gifts of the Spirit are not for sale. We saw Simon the Sorcerer try to buy the ability to lay hands on people and get them filled with the Holy Spirit. And we saw Peter sorely rebuke him for it. In fact, Peter said, ““Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity” (Acts 8:20-23).
And let’s not forget Elisha’s servant Gehazi. After Elisha helped Naaman find a cure for leprosy, the commander of the Syrian king’s army offered him a gift for his service. Elisha refused, even when Naaman urged him to take it. Gehazi ran after Naaman to collect a reward. Elisha found him out and Gehazi ended up a leper (see 2 Kings 5). I’m not saying that prophets cannot receive offerings for ministry. But we must be careful not to merchandise the gifts of the Spirit. Jesus said, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8).
Here’s my bottom line: I don’t believe in asking for “love offerings” in exchange personal prophecy. I think that relegates the prophet to the domain of your local palm reader who charges $5 for a 15-minute session. And I’m not sure the results of such an exchange fare much better for the one seeking supernatural guidance.
Don’t Put Prophets on Pedestals
When people come to me seeking, demanding, or offering money for prophetic words it also bothers me because, again, this is often learned behavior. These precious believers genuinely want to hear from God and they don’t know it’s inappropriate to approach a prophet like a psychic. Again, many saints have been conditioned to run to the prophet every time they need to hear from God. That’s not healthy. It puts the prophet up on a pedestal. Every believer can and should be able to hear from God for themselves. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).
Believers may need training in order to separate the voice of their mind from the voice of the devil from the voice of the Holy Spirit. One of the functions of five-fold ministry prophets is to help impart that discernment through practical teaching and training, as well as prayer. But too many prophets—and especially Internet prophets—have set themselves up as the answer man. In doing so, they are robbing believers of more than money. They are robbing believers of a chance to pursue a more intimate relationship with God.
Again, don’t get me wrong. I believe in personal prophecy. And I believe sometimes you need a word from a prophet or prophetic minister as confirmation. There are many voices out there and when you are under tremendous stress; when you are at a fork in the road and don’t know which way to turn; when you have pursued God with all your heart and remain confused… personal prophecy can build you up, offer you direction and warnings, and comfort you.
Prophetic Ministry Still Misunderstood
So when I get phone calls, e-mails and Facebook messages begging, demanding and offering to pay for prophetic words, it grieves me because I can see clearly that there is still a major misunderstanding about prophetic ministry in the body of Christ. And that can put these precious believers in danger of being merchandised, deceived, and otherwise steered in the wrong direction in the name of sincerely "seeking God." I don’t have time to respond to each and every one in detail about the role of the prophet, why it’s inappropriate for prophets to charge for prophecies, or how to hear from God.
But let me assure you of this: God wants to speak to you. In fact, He’s probably speaking to you more than you realize. I have a free prophetic teaching series on YouTube about how to discern the voice of God. It’s old and the quality isn’t the greatest, but it may help you. There are also many books on the topic.
Precious saints, God wants to speak to you directly. Don’t run to a prophet—and don’t pay a prophet—for prophetic words. Run to God and sow your time into fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit. You won’t be disappointed and you won’t walk away with a manufactured poor prophecy that leads you in the wrong direction. The Holy Spirit will lead you and guide you into all truth (John 16:13). That’s a promise from King Jesus. Amen.