The promise of personal prophecy always draws a crowd. Many long to hear the voice of God and either don’t have confidence in their prophetic listening skills or are simply seeking confirmation about something they think God spoke to their heart.
I remember what it was like as a new believer when visiting prophets would roll through town. I waited in anticipation, hoping I would be the one called out to receive a life-changing prophetic word. Although I believe wholeheartedly in personal prophecy—and although I’ve attended many prophetic conferences—I’ve only had a “prophet” call me out with a word once. It was so far off base that it cured me of chasing personal prophecy.
Still, I get it. I understand that believers are sincerely hungry to hear God’s voice. And that, unfortunately, is one of the reasons prophetic ministry is so abused in this hour. It’s one of the reasons anyone who claims to be a prophet can so easily fleece some sheep or offer false prophecies that lead people away from God instead of closer to Him.
When ‘Prophets’ Release Witchcraft
Indeed, I’ve seen and heard of some prophecy lines where so-called prophets humiliated and even released witchcraft curses over the saints in the name of Jesus. Actually, I witnessed and experienced it firsthand some years ago at a prophetic gathering that featured a pastor from another nation who was convinced God had shifted his ministry into the prophetic office. He’d worked alongside a very accurate prophet for years and now claimed he was coming into his own prophetic ministry. God can certainly shift you into a new anointing. The problem was, not only did he lack accuracy—he was flowing in the wrong spirit.
I stood on the front row of the church for hours while the special guest literally prophesied over at least 100 people, one by one. I didn’t hear every single word but I heard a lot of it because he carried a microphone. What I heard turned my stomach more than once. This pastor-prophet had nothing but negative words to offer most people; words about how they needed to do this better, or do more of that or quit doing something else.
It seems he forgot the Scripture about the simple gift of prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14:3: “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” Nothing I heard him say edified anyone, exhorted anyone or comforted anyone. Rather, it tore them down, condemned them and discomforted them at best. And in my case it released spiritual witchcraft against my mind that left me seeking someone else to lay hands on me and break the word curses.
The Power of False Prophetic Words
Because I was in a leadership position in a controlling church, there was an unspoken rule that we had to go up for prayer after everyone else had their turn. If we didn't go up for prayer, we'd be rebuked later. I learned a hard lesson that day, but I'm glad I learned it then because it has helped me moving forward.
If the spirit of prophecy was there, it had long ago left because the prophecy grew more questionable as the lines dwindled. By the time I had my turn, the prophecy was the antithesis of the truth. He clearly missed it and everyone there knew it. When he released the words over me, it came with a spiritual force that made me feel as if I had been covered with goo. My eyes began burning. I felt like I was in a daze. It was spiritual witchcraft.
As spirit beings created in the image of God, our words are not just sounds or vibrations—our words are spirit (John 6:63). Proverbs 18:21 says "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." Spiritual witchcraft sometimes manifests in prophetic ministry that’s impure, immature or presumptuous. Witchcraft can tap into the death-and-life-producing power of the tongue, which James called a fire and a world of iniquity (James 3:4). James also called the tongue an unruly evil, full of deadly poison (James 3:8). Witchcraft relies on the power of death and life that is in our tongues—and other people’s tongues—to release its attacks.
Dealing With Erroneous Prophecy
And that’s just what happened. It turns out I was not the only one who left the prayer line feeling like they had been covered with goo, with burning eyes, and otherwise dazed and confused. I had several folks come up to me asking about the harsh "prophetic words" they received. Some just dismissed it as poor prophecy, but others were hurt.
When a prophet leaves a cloud of erroneous or outright false prophecy behind him as he heads off to the next city on his itinerary, it's important that we handle the aftermath with maturity. I helped some people work through those issues by dismissing the poor prophecy and breaking the words over them in the name of Jesus. Others helped me deal with the witchcraft-laced words spoken over me.
When the issue of the poor and hurtful prophetic utterances was brought to the leadership of the church, those who questioned this man’s ministry were sorely rebuked. This was probably the saddest part of all. Even the most accurate, mature prophet can miss it. As Spirit-filled believers we have the right and responsibility to judge prophetic words over our lives. We should embrace the true prophetic words and dismiss—and even break the power of words—that are not from God. The paradigm that sets prophets on a pedestal, not to be questioned, must end. Amen.