When Prophecy is Unfulfilled ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.’ (Proverbs 13:12)

You received a personal prophecy—or a prophetic word for your family or for your church.

You believed, positioned, prayed, and waited.

Now it has become evident that the prophetic word will never be fulfilled in the way that you believed it would.

Maybe it is too late for something to eventuate in your life, as a prophecy led you to believe. Maybe someone you cared about became sick and died contrary to prophetic words that he or she would live and do something more for God. Maybe other people around you, or in leadership over you, have made decisions that have ruled out the possibility that a prophecy will be fulfilled.

Questions now arise:

  • Was the prophecy wrong? If so, why did God allow me to believe it and pursue it? What about the person who prophesied—was he or she mistaken?
  • And how do we get past the hurt and the disappointment, the crisis of faith, and indeed the grief, of having a long-term prophetic vision die?

The Problem of Unfulfilled Prophecy

There are varying degrees of difficulty and pain associated with an unfulfilled prophecy. At the lower end of the scale, I have prophecies sitting in my drawer that I now realize will never be fulfilled in the exact way the prophetic minister described it to me. This does not cause me concern, because Father has clearly led me in a different direction.

At the other end of the scale, we have had friends pass away, leaving prophecies unfulfilled, questions unanswered, and pain in our hearts.

Why is My Prophetic Word Unfulfilled?

There are many reasons why a prophecy may not be fulfilled. Let’s explore a few of them:

The Prophecy was not Adequately Weighed up

If you are waiting on a prophecy to be fulfilled, then it was most likely a very specific, directive type of prophetic word.

For our protection, these kinds of prophecies should always be submitted to wise oversight and leadership in the church. [1] Without this Biblical safety net, there is a greater possibility of some of the following issues taking place. (1 Cor 14:29, 1 Thess 5:20-22)

Conditions Unmet Until Now

Some prophecy, especially concerning the call of God, is conditional upon us doing our part, obeying God, and allowing the Spirit to deal with us in maturing our character.

I received a prophecy many years ago concerning my future ministry. In the same prophecy, I was exhorted to ‘stay committed, stay submitted.’ I know without doubt that I would not be where I am today if I had not stayed committed and submitted to my church and leadership during testing times.

If you feel that you have delayed or made mistakes, it is not too late. You serve a God of grace; a God of the second chance! Take heart from these words about Jonah: Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.’ (Jonah 3:1)

The Prophecy has Already Fulfilled its Purpose

Sometimes a particular prophecy is a signpost that God uses to get you somewhere else. Instead of the destination you expected, you find that you are positioned for another, higher, God-given purpose.

This may also be an issue of inaccurate delivery of a prophecy. But we also need to understand the nature of prophecy:

Fulfillment of prophecy is not always like hitting a ‘bulls eye’ on a target. It may be more like a river that has twists and turns before reaching the Father’s intended destination.

The Prophecy was Delivered Inaccurately

‘For we know in part and we prophesy in part’ (1 Cor 13:9)

Following are some reasons that a prophecy may have been delivered inaccurately.

  • If the person prophesying knows the recipient of the prophecy, it is tempting to deliver the prophecy in the context of what is known currently. This can hamper the purity of a word
  • This also goes for prophecies made in church life. We may be receiving a revelation from God, but then we interpret and deliver that word in the light of our church’s current vision or circumstances, which may later change
  • The person may have prophesied out of the desires of his or her heart, rather than from a revelation from God
  • The person delivering the prophecy may be receiving an incomplete revelation, but then try to express the prophecy in specific terms when it has not been received that way.It is true that there is, on occasion, higher revelation and greater levels of accuracy (indeed we believe and strive for this), but we must also be content—and honest—when this is not the case.

The Prophecy was Interpreted by the Recipient Inaccurately

Maybe the prophecy was not mistakenly given, but there was a miscommunication, and the recipient took the prophecy the wrong way.

Just as the giver of a prophecy can interpret and deliver a word based on known circumstances, a receiver of a prophecy can also interpret a word based on what he or she knows or desires it to be.


At the end of the day, we may never understand this side of heaven why a prophecy remained unfulfilled, just as we do not understand why some sick people who are prayed for do not get healed.

In the face of the unknown, we need to trust in the love and sovereignty of our Heavenly Father.

What to do About Prophetic Disappointment

There is a time to hold on to a prophetic word, but we also need to know when to release or shelve a prophecy. The time to release a prophecy is when holding onto it is not bearing good fruit in your life, or in the lives of others around you.

This includes disappointment, disillusionment, division or disunity, dissatisfaction, resentment, bitterness, grief, or any other negative fruit.

If you can relate to this, here are some things that may help in the process:

1. Allow the Prophecy to be Weighed up Again

Prophecy is subject to being weighed up. This does not only relate to assessing a prophecy at the time it is delivered. For our protection, we should also keep our prophetic vision submitted to godly leadership as time goes along.[1]

2. Forgive Whoever you Need to

If an unfulfilled prophecy has left you feeling disappointed or even bitter, it is vital that you forgive anyone that you need to. (Mark 11:25) This may be the giver of the prophecy, yourself, or anyone you perceived stood in the way of its fulfillment.

3. Stop Looking for Unfulfilled Conditions

If you are open to God, and the Holy Spirit is not forthcoming about a condition not being fulfilled, don’t labor over finding one—this may be distracting you from releasing it and moving on with God’s purpose for your life, or that of your family or church. Release it and trust Him to show you anything necessary.

If you can identify a wrong turning in your life, as you repent, the grace of God is released over your life. He will give you a new vision—He is the God of the resurrection.

4. Release Others from Expectations Relating to the Prophecy

Sometimes in our search for unmet conditions, it is tempting to blame other people for hindering the fulfillment of a prophecy. This may include a spouse, family member, vocational boss, or leader in a church.

We need to release them completely from expectations and remember that God is sovereign and able to fulfill His plans regardless of their actions. Look at the life of Joseph! (Gen 37-50)

5. Release the Prophecy Completely

You are not being unfaithful to God and His word when you release a prophecy and all expectations associated with it, if holding onto it is not bearing good fruit.

God is able to bring the word to you again if it was truly of Him. He can resurrect the promise in His time.

Sometimes it is helpful to release the prophecy, not only through prayer but to do something symbolic as well. We need to do whatever it takes to bring closure.

6. Ask, ‘Am I in the Father’s Will Right Now?’

If you know that right now your heart is right with God, then you are on track for His purposes to be fulfilled in your life.

Ultimately, we must trust in the absolute sovereignty of God—not in ourselves, others, or in any prophetic word.

When prophecy is unfulfilled, remember and be guided by the goodness of God.

‘The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand.’ (Ps 37:23-24, NKJV)

It May be Time to let go

‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?’ (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Is it time to let go of an unfulfilled prophetic word?

  • Let go, and you will be released from the place of disappointment and grief
  • Release it, and you will be able to receive the new word from God
  • Let go, and you will have the joy of discovering the new things Father is doing


[1] This can be a leader or pastor in your church, or Christian mentors (safe Christian mentors are themselves under authority). I am aware that many people have experienced unhealthy or even abusive leadership, at some stage of their journey. This must not put us off seeking safe Christian leaders who can speak into our lives.

Other Posts on This Topic:

Discover More in the Prophetic Guidance Master Class

Is the above article timely, or would you like to learn more on this topic?
In my Prophetic Guidance Master Class, I tackle some tough questions such as:

  • How do faith and wisdom work together when following prophetic guidance?
  • What extra care can I take when my prophetic insights are about relationships or emotional issues?
  • When I’m faced with a closed door, what can I do?
  • If my prophetic guidance is unclear, what actions should I take?
  • What is God doing when there are delays and disappointments?

These are some of the questions I explore in my Prophetic Guidance Master Class. Plus, I’ve uploaded the PDF transcript of these ten lessons, so you can keep your own summary for reference.
You can find the Prophetic Guidance Master Class in the Enliven Prophetic School here.

Modules on the School currently include: “How to hear God’s voice”; “How to Begin and Grow in Prophecy”; “The Seer Gift: How to Grow in Pictures and Visions”; “Discernment and Prophetic Warnings” and the “Prophetic Guidance Master Class”.

© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog

Enliven Ministries: in the David McCracken Ministries family

25 thoughts on “Prophetic Disappointment – Why is My Prophecy Unfulfilled?”

  1. A pastor’s wife prophesied over me about 5 or 6 years that she felt I would have another baby. As I’m in my 40’s, have two teenagers, and hubby has had the little op, I wasn’t pleased – I was panicked! Ever since I’ve wondered if the “baby” refers to a new thing God will birth in my life … not sure what though. I liked your point about forgiving the giver of the prophecy hough, this is something I definitely had to do.

    1. Yes, Janet I can understand that panic (being in my 40’s with young adult kids!!) It is possible she did receive a revelation (‘baby’) but interpreted and delivered the word wrongly. Prophetic insight and dreams about pregnancy and new birth often refer to the birth of a new ministry, or something else new that God is doing in and through you. Don’t cast it away altogether… consider what new things have been brought to birth in your life and ministry since the prophecy, and the exciting possibility that new things from God are up ahead! 🙂

  2. I think you have covered all the points really well Helen. I have had friends that have had prophecies that they would be healed or grow new limbs etc.. only to die. those around them have either fell away from the faith or just given up on God. I see prophecy as a confirming word to something that is already stirring in your heart, and that word can move you from where you are to where you are going, so I sense there can be ‘ movement ” in prophecy.. thanks for these great points ..

  3. Thank you Ann!
    Yes this is a really thought-provoking subject. So sad to hear of the things that have happened.
    I like what you say about prophecy confirming… this is one of the key differences between Old and New Testament prophecy. In the OT, prophets were the mouthpiece of God, but in the NT, believers are God’s children and can hear Him speak out of that personal relationship. So prophecy moves from being the primary voice to being a secondary, confirming voice.
    Your thought about movement is very insightful, something more to ponder over… 🙂

  4. Hi Helen,
    Thank you for all of your wonderful articles! I have a question for you: how do we know when to contend for a prophecy we have been given, versus when to let go because it’s not being fulfilled (for whatever reason, such as a condition not being met)? I am really struggling right now, after having interceded for over a year about a prophetic word I was given (several times, by different people, plus my own visions from God about the same thing, etc.) and I’m exhausted in trying to contend any more for it in prayer…
    Thank you for any insight 🙂

  5. Hi Leslie,
    Yes I understand that such a situation can be difficult, on one hand you want to be faithful to what God has promised and to do whatever it takes to usher that in, on the other, there is that uncertainty when time goes by and nothing is happening.
    I think it is really important to identify the difference between contending prayer that is led and empowered by the Holy Spirit, which is energising, and prayer that becomes laboured and striving and causes weariness.
    When contending in prayer crosses over to the second type, when there is not good fruit from the praying, that is the time to rest back in God’s arms over the issue, to trust in Father for His outcomes. When it is time to birth something in prayer, the Holy Spirit empowers and initiates it.
    Even the birthing in prayer has to do with timing. I’ve written more on this here:
    I hope this helps 🙂

  6. Hi Helen,

    Thanks so much for this article. It has been a difficult couple of years for my church and as an intercessor who moves in the prophetic I have received several insights and prophecies etc for my senior leaders during this time. ( I have enjoyed a good relationship in this regard with my pastors/leaders for several yrs now which has been a real privilege) On a few occasions during this difficult time the prophecies I have given have not been received well at all, or have been dismissed off hand, only later to be fullfilled. ( these were often prophecies of a personal nature for the recipient and were sometimes warnings also). I have definately experience some really deep feelings of dissappointment and been quite deeply hurt by this and have had to work hard, and ask God to help me, keep my attitude right and my heart soft during these times. Sometimes I have failed and have had to confess and repent of my wrong attitudes etc, but mostly God has helped me and I have been able to work through these feelings and kept my heart soft. Thankyou for writting this article as it has really helped me as I value and respect you and your ministry highly. It really helps me to know that others I hold in high regard have experienced this as well and that I am not just being dodgy or somehow am alone in my struggle. I will continue to read your articles as they are a real blessing and encouragement to me.

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