Question #1: What if I receive a message that tells me to do something very out of the ordinary?
Answer: You can’t rule out the possibility that God may at some time tell you to do something that seems to go against logic or reason, and requires extra faith or courage. Sometimes God does ask us to do things that seem odd or even ridiculous, but not usually.
So before you do anything drastic, it’s best to ask God to confirm that it is indeed what He wants you to do. Search the Scriptures. Look for a similar situation in the Word, or verses that support that course of action. Make sure it doesn’t contradict the written Word. Don’t rule out the possibility that you might have misinterpreted the prophecy or that it is incomplete. It’s a good idea to go back to the Lord with any questions you have about the first message; He may either give a further explanation or clarification that resolves the problem, or confirm His original message.
If you know others who also have the gift of prophecy or knowledge of the Scriptures, it may be helpful to explain your situation to them. Show one or two others the message you received and the Scriptures you found that support either side, and if they have the gift of prophecy, ask them to get a confirmation or clarification from the Lord for you. A confirmation received through a third party is often a big help at a time like this.
When you get God’s confirmation, either through His Word or through subsequent messages, or through the Word-based counsel of others, you will know it. It will increase your faith and give you peace of mind. With His confirmation, you can proceed by faith to do whatever He has asked you to do, even if it is out of the ordinary. But if you don’t have a peace about it, if you’re still not sure, you shouldn’t do it. “Whatever is not from faith is sin.”(Romans 14:23)
Question #2: What if the Lord tells me something, but I don’t want to do it? Will He take away my gift of prophecy?
Answer: When you ask the Lord to speak, you should be prepared to believe, accept and do whatever He asks of you. Don’t worry, though. This does not mean you will constantly receive messages that are difficult for you to receive or act upon. Jesus loves you, and He wants you to be happy. He has given you the gift of prophecy because He wants to make your life easier and better in the long run.
God has given us the majesty of choice. Life is made up of countless choices, which we are free to make without much interference from God. He points us to His Word and often reveals His will on matters that we ask Him about, but He allows us to decide which way we’re going to go, His or our own. He doesn’t force us to do things, or impose His will on us. How closely we follow is up to us.
Once you know what God’s will is, you are even more responsible for the consequences of your decisions. In prophecy, He gives you His Word, and it’s up to you whether you accept it, believe it, and act on it. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Cafeteria–style faith is not faith-you can’t just pick and choose. Prophecy, by its very nature, must be received with an open mind and a yielded heart.
Don’t worry though, if some things God tells you are a little difficult to believe at first. God is “plenteous in mercy.”(Psalm 103:8) He understands your human nature and weakness, and being the good Father that He is, has great patience with you. What matters most to Him is that you sincerely want to have faith and you want to obey Him. If you do, He will increase your faith and help you follow. “Faith is the gift of God.”(Ephesians 2:8)
If something the Lord asks of you still seems too difficult, even after you have fed your faith with the written Word, talk it over some more with Him. He may give you more details or explain it in a way that will give you faith to do what He’s asking of you, or He may suggest an alternative course of action that would be easier for you, though perhaps not always with the same results. “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”(1 Corinthians 10:13)
Often when God presents His will to us, He allows leeway for us to choose several options within His will. So if you don’t have the faith and confidence to enact some of what He’s told you to do, you can ask Him if there is any other way you can go about obeying Him, within His will. Of course, this isn’t to be used as an excuse to take God’s messages lightly, because most of the time His first message will contain His best and highest will, that which will bear the most fruit and bring about His plan in the most efficient way. At the same time “He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust,”(Psalm 103:14) and even if He doesn’t give you any other options when you go back to Him, He may give you just the message of strength and encouragement that you need to tackle what He wants you to do.
The ideal, of course, is that you obey Him no matter what He asks of you, and this is what will make you happiest in the end. “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”(John 13:17 KJV)
Question #3: If someone wants me to ask God for the winning lottery number, or wants to know some specific detail about their future-or if I have a question of that nature-will God tell me?
Answer: If you have a specific question like that, why not ask Him? That’s the surest way to find out if it’s His will to tell you certain details. He’s certainly able, and if that’s really what’s best for everyone involved, He just might!
On the other hand, He tells us that we sometimes don’t get the answers we want because we ask amiss, out of greed or selfishness. Our motives are wrong. He also reserves the right not to tell us things that we don’t really need to know, or are not in our best interest to know now.
A common mistake that people make is expecting God to tell them every detail about their future. Although the Lord can and sometimes does reveal secrets of the future, He sets certain limits on what He will tell us-and He does this for our own good. As our heavenly Father, He knows that we can only handle so much at a time, and that if we knew everything about the future, it would take much of the magic out of the present. It would also reduce our dependence on His guidance, because we’d feel like we “know it all.” We’d then be much more likely to make mistakes because we’re depending on our own wisdom instead of God’s.
So the Lord tells us what we need to know at the time, and He sometimes prepares our hearts for the future in some way by giving us clues or hints. But the Christian life is one of faith, and God often tests our faith by only revealing His plan for our lives little by little, step by step.
Your path through life is like a winding road-you don’t always see what’s around the bend until you get there. Sometimes God sees fit to reveal things to us right before we get to the bend, if He knows that the information will benefit us, but He usually takes it one bend at a time.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”(Proverbs 3:5) If you’re trusting the Lord to guide you through life, He’s going to direct your paths and bring you through experiences He knows will benefit you in the long run.-So trust Him!
If you have a question, or face a tough decision, or you need guidance in some aspect of your life, by all means ask Him! Then be willing to receive as much or as little as God wishes to show you. If you ask in faith, He’ll either tell you at least part of the answer, or He’ll explain why now is not the best time for you to know. Whatever He says, you can trust that He who sees the past, present and the future, He who loves you more than anyone else ever could, has your best interests at heart.
Question #4: What if I try to follow the steps in this booklet, and I ask God for the gift of prophecy, but don’t receive it? Does He not give this gift to some people? If I don’t get it, am I at a disadvantage spiritually?
Answer: The Lord has promised that if we ask Him in faith, we will receive. There are times, though, when He answers differently than we expect, or His timetable is different than ours. For reasons we don’t always understand, the Lord doesn’t give some people evidence that they have received the gift of prophecy immediately when they ask. If you are one of those people, don’t give up! The Lord may simply be testing your faith, or teaching you patience and perseverance. Or He may be bringing you closer to Him by making you more desperate in prayer. Or He may make you wait in order to keep you humble, or to help you appreciate what a miraculous manifestation of His Spirit prophecy really is, when He does give you evidence of it further down the road.
In the meantime, keep trying. Often when people first receive the gift of prophecy, they only receive very short messages-perhaps only a few words or a paraphrased Bible verse. To them, that doesn’t seem like prophecy. Well, they have the gift, but theirs is a “baby” gift. The more they exercise it, the more it grows. So perhaps you do have the gift, and just don’t realize it. Thank God for every word He gives you, keep going back for more, and you’ll get more!
Even if you don’t have the gift of prophecy, that doesn’t mean you can’t follow the Lord or love Him and others, or even find His will in your life. There are other gifts of the Spirit, and the Lord may bless you with one or more of those instead. Perhaps He knows you need those more, or He will be able to accomplish more through them. And the most important gift of the Lord’s Spirit is love! The apostle Paul said: “Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge … but have not love, I am nothing. Love never fails.”(1 Corinthians 13:2,8)
If you didn’t get any proof that you’ve received the gift of prophecy as soon as you prayed for it, or even if you never get a prophecy, you can still avail yourself of the Lord’s living Words through others who have the gift.
And you can still draw very close to Him in your personal quiet time, by reading, studying, and meditating on His written Word; through praying and giving Him your cares, thoughts, desires and worries; through asking Him to speak to you in other ways; through simply enjoying being in His presence. As you continue to be faithful to take time with Him, He will be faithful to speak to You in one of the many ways that He uses, even if not in direct prophecy.
Question #5: If prophecy really works, and if God is willing to talk to anyone who will listen, then why don’t more people hear from Heaven?
Answer: The first requirement is to establish a personal connection with Jesus by accepting Him as Savior and Lord. But unfortunately, even many who have received Jesus into their hearts simply don’t believe they can hear from Heaven in prophecy. If they would only dare to try it, to put God on the spot by sincerely asking Him to speak to them, He would. That tiny step of faith is all it would take.
In most cases, their minds get in the way. Hearing from Heaven just isn’t logical! This is why Jesus said we have to become as children to enter the heavenly realm.(Matthew 18:3) Children don’t know any better, so they just do what God says.
“Not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise.”(1 Corinthians 1:26-27) Intellectuality can work against you when it comes to hearing God’s voice, although having several degrees doesn’t necessarily disqualify you. After all, Paul the apostle was a very educated man, and he heard God’s voice. At the same time, hearing from God requires humbling yourself before Him, and putting your own reasoning and intelligence in subjection to His will, if you’re going to have any success.
God is the one who gave us our ability to think, and of course He expects us to use our brains. But He also gives us the option of choosing His mind over our own. Those who choose to tap into His infinite knowledge and wisdom see and hear wonderful and marvelous things; those who choose not to are limited to the confines of their finite minds.
Question #6: What if I have the gift of prophecy, but then one day when asking the Lord to speak I don’t get anything?
Answer: The first thing to do is not be discouraged or think that you’ve somehow “lost” your gift of prophecy. There could be a number of reasons why you’re drawing a blank. Maybe you’re distracted by other thoughts or things going on around you. Or perhaps the Lord is just testing you to see if you’ll persevere and hold on for the answer. Sometimes He wants to see if you’ll have the faith to patiently wait for Him to speak, instead of just expecting it to always happen immediately. Or maybe He wants to see how desperate you are and how willing you are to receive, before He begins to give the answers you need.
If after some time you don’t get anything, then try re-reading some of your favorite verses or passages from the Bible to renew your faith, and pray earnestly. Check your heart to make sure there aren’t any unconfessed sins hampering your link with the Lord. Check that you haven’t been missing any of the basic requirements for hearing clearly from Heaven, like spending time with the Lord and His Word, or coming to Him humbly, or asking Him to help you set aside your own thoughts. Then try again. If you still don’t get anything, then maybe the Lord has a reason for not giving you the answer right then. But in any case, don’t let it discourage you from coming back to the Lord next time! He’s more willing to give than we are to receive, and even if He doesn’t reveal the answer to your specific question at that moment, He may give you words of comfort and reassurance.
Question #7: Are there other ways to find God’s will besides prophecy?
Answer: Yes, there are several other ways to find God’s will. These include the following: 1) Applying the written Word to your situation. 2) The “voice of the Word”-which is when you’re reading the Word and suddenly something stands out to you as being the specific will of God for you, or the answer to your question. 3) Receiving direct revelations in ways other than prophecy, such as dreams, visions, or impressions. 4) Seeking counsel from others who are strong in faith and knowledge of the Word. 5) Circumstances which you believe to be engineered by the Lord-also known as “open and closed doors.”(Revelation 3:8) 6) Personal concern or conviction. 7) Receiving specific, predetermined signs in answer to your requests-also known as “fleeces” after a story in the Bible when Gideon used a fleece of wool to test God’s instructions.(Judges 6:36-40)
When you face an especially important decision, or one that will affect other people, it’s wise to find and confirm God’s will through more than one means. Asking others to hear from the Lord for you is a good way to get an objective party involved, but if that’s not possible, you can ask God to use His Word or one or more of the other ways listed above to confirm what He’s told you in prophecy.
Question #8: What if God guides me to do a certain thing, but it results in failure? Does that mean God misled me?
Answer: You need to remember that even if something is God’s will, and even if you obey His voice and do your part to perform His will, things may not always work out as you imagine or hope they will. Why? Because by giving us all the majesty of choice, God has, in a sense, confined Himself to operate according to our decisions. He knows what would be best, and you may believe what He tells you and do your best to follow, but other people who are involved might disrupt the process with their decisions if they’re not also yielded to His will. Through their decisions they can also partly influence the outcome of prophecy.
If things don’t turn out exactly as you expect according to what God told you in advance, go to the Lord again and ask Him to explain what happened. In fact, it’s best to keep checking in with Him as things develop, so He can keep instructing you if and when the situation changes or when people make unexpected choices (good or bad) that affect what is happening. The Lord doesn’t control or force people; they have free will. But He can tell you what to do if their decisions change what He originally told you was His best. When people’s choices change the road conditions, He will show you the next best route to travel. Either way, He’ll get you to your destination.
It’s never God’s fault if things don’t turn out as you thought, or as He first indicated would be best. People fail, but God never fails. But the wonderful thing is, even when you mess up or others mess up, God is able to work everything out in the end if you love the Lord and are doing your best to follow Him by taking time in His Word and being a sample of His love to others. “All things work together for good to those who love God.”(Romans 8:28)
Question #9: What if I think I’m hearing from Heaven, but then the message doesn’t make sense or doesn’t work?
Answer: There may be times when you will get distracted, or your motives won’t be quite right. Or maybe you failed to ask the Lord to erase your own opinions or desires in the matter, or you were unwilling to let go of your preconceived ideas and be open to whatever He had to tell you. Or maybe you just misinterpreted what the Lord was saying. This is why it’s so important to confirm the messages you receive by one or more of the other ways to find God’s will.
As long as you do your best to stay close to the Lord and fulfill His basic requirements of filling up with His Word and putting aside your own will when hearing from Him, He will keep you on the safe and fruitful path of obedience to His will. God isn’t trying to see if He can trip you up or cause you to fail. To the contrary, He wants nothing more than to see you succeed. He is more willing to give than you are to receive. If you call upon Him, He promises to answer. He loves you! As He told His disciples and this is His message to us today also: “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”(John 15:15) He wants to be a part of your life, to guide you along the path of His perfect will, because He knows that will make you happiest and have the best results in the long run.