You are praying for yourself, another person, church or group and waiting for God to bring a prophetic word through you. Now you receive a revelation—a thought, picture, scripture verse, Bible story word, feeling, dream or other impression.

How do you know that it is from the Holy Spirit?

Our senses are constantly being bombarded with all kinds of thoughts and feelings. We need to carefully assess whether the revelation is from God and not our own opinion, imagination or even demonic in origin. This is important even when we are in prayer or waiting on the Lord for a prophecy.

As you grow in your prophetic gift, this process will increase in speed until it occurs almost simultaneously as you prophesy. As you start out, however, it can take a bit longer. In the early stages of developing your prophetic gift you may prefer to meditate on your revelation, journal it, or share it with a mentor or leader before sharing it as a prophetic word.

If you are unsure whether the impression you are receiving is a message from God, it is OK to dismiss it, or to shelve it for a later time. We need to give ourselves the grace that God extends to us in this process and not get hung up that everything we are getting has to be 100% perfect (see the post, ‘Not Word-Perfect’ for more about this). If this happens, pass over it and wait prayerfully for another revelation.

There are two things that we can do that will help us in this process:

  1. Assess the likely meaning of the revelation
  2. Assess whether or not the revelation is likely to be from God

1. What Does the Revelation Mean?

Broadly, revelations from the Holy Spirit can be either plain or symbolic in their meaning.

Plain Revelation

Plain revelation has an obvious meaning and can be interpreted in a straight-forward way. If the revelation were to be shared without elaboration—as is—to the person you are prophesying to, the meaning could easily be understood by them.

Some examples of plain revelation are:

*You think of a Bible verse, for example Psalm 23:1 ‘The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want’ or Proverbs 3:5-6 ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart… He shall direct your paths’

*A word comes to mind, such as ‘boldness’

*You have an impression, such as ‘God is releasing provision for an area of need’

*You have a feeling, such as, “I am feeling God’s compassion and love for this person’

*A non-symbolic picture or vision comes to mind, such as seeing the Lord embracing the person. Most visions and dreams, however, are symbolic in nature

Symbolic Revelation

Symbolic revelation occurs when the impression, picture or word you receive is representative of something else. It requires interpretation by yourself or the recipient in order for the meaning to be understood.

Some examples of symbolic revelation are:

*You recall a Bible story, such as David and Goliath (1 Sam 17). The presenting symbolism is that God is giving the person or group you are praying for victory over an enemy or adversity

*You have a symbolic picture come to mind, for example you see the person standing behind a huge shield. This seems to mean that God is encouraging them that they are shielded from something that could be potentially harmful. You are also reminded of Bible verses such as Psalm 3:3 that says that God is our shield.

Questions to ask about a symbolic revelation:

1. Is the symbolism Biblical?

If so, what does it mean in the Bible? Does it have more than one meaning? For example fire in the Bible is representative of the Holy Spirit—but it is also representative of trial and judgement (Acts 2:1-4, Ps 66:12, 1 Cor 3:13)

2. Is it non-Biblical symbolism? If so, does the symbol have a meaning in our cultural context?

A symbol can be a combination of both—for example, if a picture of a lighthouse comes to mind, you remember that Jesus said that His followers would be a light to the world (Matt 5:14). As the specific function of a lighthouse is to show ships the right way to travel and prevent loss and destruction, the symbol has an added value of meaning.

3. Is it a symbol you don’t understand?

Here you have a choice as to whether to dismiss the impression if you believe it may not be from God, or to proceed and share it as you receive it. The symbol may have a significant meaning to the recipient that you are unaware of—we will discuss this in the next blog post.

Sometimes a revelation can have both plain and symbolic elements.

2. How to Check Whether the Impression You Have Received is From God

Once you have assessed a revelation for its probable meaning, you can check the revelation, along with your interpretation of it, by passing it through a simple test:

A. Does it fall within the Biblical guidelines of being strengthening, encouraging and comforting? (1 Cor 14:3). In other words, does it ‘build up, lift up or cheer up?’

B.  Does it reflect God’s character and nature?

C.  Is it redemptive? (i.e., true to the ‘Good News’ of salvation, containing a positive outcome and speaking of God’s redeeming purposes)

D. Is it loving in expression towards the recipient?

E.  Does it adhere to scriptural principles?

F. Is it, or could it be relevant to the professed need of the person, group or situation that we are praying for or ministering to? (This may be difficult to ascertain, and this is where faith comes in as we mature in the prophetic gift)

G. Is it true to God’s voice as He normally speaks to you?

As you start out in prophecy, you experience doubts as to whether the impression you have received is really from God or was from your own imagination. However, if it is Biblical, and builds up, lifts up or cheers up, it can still bring encouragement.

You will know for sure whether it was from the Lord by the fruit, or outcome of the word after you have delivered it. Time will tell. Deliver the message in faith and watch what God does.

A good guideline for beginning in prophecy is, ‘No direction or correction; no dates or mates.’ If you strongly believe you are receiving a warning or direction from God for the person, group or church you are praying for, either refrain from bringing it and commit it to prayer, or submit it to a leader for guidance.

I encourage those who are maturing in prophecy to ascertain and communicate God’s redemptive purposes (that is, the positive outcome He intends), when the prophecy contains a warning.

Once we are comfortable with sharing the revelation we have received, we then need to decide how best to communicate that message from God.

In the next post, I will discuss the next stage of prophecy—which is deciding how to frame and then deliver your prophetic message.

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See also:

How to Exercise Your Prophetic Gift Pt 1: Understand the Process of Prophecy

How to Exercise Your Prophetic Gift Pt 2: How To Receive a Revelation From God

© Helen Calder   Enliven Blog

9 thoughts on “How To Exercise Your Prophetic gift Pt 3: How Can You Tell Your Revelation Is From God?”

  1. Helen, wonderfully written, and good common sense advise to those who wish to develop their ability to hear from God. After all He did say that he wished that all would prophecy… great stuff

  2. Thanks Rina! I think my personal challenge is to keep up the prophetic flow. There are times (usually after I’ve prophesied over a few people) when I can really get going, and the revelations just pour through me one after the other. But most of the time it’s like fits and starts. Definitely need to do some more prophetic activation in 2010!

  3. all I thought that it was just all about my imaginations, ,but how about if its a negative thought that you saw from a person? is it not from God? 😮

  4. I’m so glad to learn from you,indeed you are so problem is that…sometimes i receive revelation through scriptures and i release by faith,or if it is for me i work on it but it does not come to pass.But sometimes yes.Does this mean i get it wrong or what is it? Please help.

  5. Sarah Nasie Mmutlane

    Hi Helen
    Thanks to your blog the Singh of prophecy you talk about it is the way it happen to me before things happen I will dream about it .I am born again Christian since 1985 but the church I am attending does not believe in prophetic church .the name of the church is church of nazarene I will like to know about the prophetic ways so that I can help at my church so please help me

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